OSHA rule aimed at improving workplace injury tracking

OSHA has developed new rules to help improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Not everyone is happy. The National Association of Home Builders and other industry groups have filed a lawsuit against OSHA and the Department of Labor. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand what’s now required and to be in compliance until the legal fight is resolved.
Here’s what business owners need to know:

1. Electronic injury and illness reporting: Certain employers will now be required to electronically submit the injury and illness information they are already required to keep under OSHA regulations.

OSHA did this to increase accountability and prevent injuries. The electronic submission requirements took effect Jan. 1 and OSHA is phasing them in.

2. Anti-retaliation: OSHA believes it can ensure accuracy in reporting only if employees feel free to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation. The rule’s anti-retaliation component went into effect Dec. 1, 2016.

The anti-retaliation component includes three provisions:

Employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses, free from retaliation. Employers can fulfill this obligation by posting the Job Safety and Health — It’s The Law poster. OSHA also recommends employers make it clear in their employee handbooks and new-employee orientation materials that employees have the right to report workplace injuries.

An employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and must not deter or discourage employees from reporting. For example, procedures that do not allow a reasonable amount of time for an employee to realize they have suffered a work-related injury or illness could violate this provision.

An employer may not retaliate against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. OSHA cites three types of policies that could be considered retaliatory under this provision: disciplinary policies, drug-testing policies and incentive policies.

The rules apply to companies with at least 250 workers. Also impacted are establishments with 20 to 249 employees in certain high-hazard industries.

About the Author

Larry Hannappel

Larry spent 16 years with Century Casino’s and was instrumental in the start-up and growth of the company through expansions in Canada, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Poland and on several cruise ships as well as in Colorado. He was most recently the SVP, Principal Finance Officer and COO of North American operations for Century Casinos Inc., a multinational, Nasdaq-traded gaming company. Earlier in his career, Larry worked at the Johns Manville Corp. Larry spent 13 years in various accounting and finance functions in the company’s fiberglass manufacturing division and was key in the start-up of a molding plant in Indiana. Larry and his wife Kathy and three children live in Colorado. He enjoys four-wheeling, motorcycling, golfing, skiing and brewing beer.

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