Unless you spend every minute of the day standing over the shoulders of OSHA rule writers, the chances of understanding a complete breakdown of the recent OSHA recordkeeping changes involving construction and manufacturing businesses is, well, minimal to none. As it currently stands, facilities within the United States that are legally under OSHA’s jurisdiction must comply with these new recordkeeping changes on January 1, 2015—less than five weeks from now.
Statement by OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor
In a statement that is sure to impact the construction and manufacturing industry, Dr. David Michaels issued a description of one of the new recordkeeping rules: “OSHA will now receive crucial reports of fatalities and severe work-related injuries and illnesses that will significantly enhance the agency’s ability to target our resources to save lives and prevent further injury and illness.”
Although this statement seems straightforward enough, the underlying premise of the announcement is that: “This new data will enable OSHA to identify those workplaces where employees are at the greatest risk and target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources accordingly.”
Now that construction and manufacturing companies must submit detailed reports on fatal accidents in addition to all work-related sicknesses and injuries, OSHA’s ability to enforce even stricter rules regarding a company’s operational methods and systems becomes even more powerful. In fact, neglecting to obtain precise instruction concerning OSHA’s newest recordkeeping regulations could potentially cost fines, penalties or worse.
Summary of OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rules
- Contains an updated list of industries exempt from keeping illness and injury records.
- Expands the list of serious injuries occurring to on-the-job employees that must be reported to OSHA. In addition, all work-related fatalities must be reported within eight hours of the event. All amputations, losses of an eye, and in-patient hospitalizations must be reported within 24 hours.
- Allows OSHA to implement guidelines that are more focused on preventing fatalities, recurring illnesses, and serious work injuries. This rule also facilitates the access of workers, employers, and the pubic to workplace health and safety information.
- Calling OSHA’s number or contacting OSHA’s closest office in the area remains the primary methods for reporting incidences. OSHA also plans to provide an online form for expediting reports as well.
OSHA’s Reasons for Implementing Changes to Recordkeeping Rules
According to OSHA, more than three million job-related illnesses and injuries occurred in the past several years—and 4,000 of those instances are workplace fatalities. These changes are meant to provide a more detailed and expedited information, so that OSHA can coordinate and initiate inspections more effectively. In addition, OSHA reports that it is promoting an Injury and Illness Prevention Program that encourages employers to be more proactive in identifying workplace hazards instead of simply recording illnesses and/or injuries.
Some employers say that while submitting information to OSHA won’t be difficult, the implications of publishing provocative material could be profound. For example, employers will need to make sure that all information put into a report is absolutely correct.