The compliance date for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s electronic reporting rule, Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, has been pushed back to December 1, 2017. Delaying the July 1, 2017 compliance deadline allows OSHA more time to review questions of law and policy and provides employers with four extra months to compile and submit required data under the new rule.
Created by Congress in 1970, OSHA is tasked with assuring safe and healthful working conditions for employees by setting and enforcing standards, providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. For over forty years, OSHA required employers to keep track of their workers’ injuries and illnesses in OSHA logs and then submit those logs to their employees and to OSHA. A final rule that became effective on January of this year revised the long-standing requirements for recording and submitting this information.
Establishments with 20 to 250 employees must now electronically submit information from their OSHA log forms; this information will then be posted on the OSHA website where it will be visible to the public. By implementing this rule, OSHA hopes to encourage employers to provide workers with worksites free of recognized serious hazards and prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. Their rationale is that by publicly disclosing the data, employers will be incentivized to improve workplace safety. OSHA also plans to use the data to research ways to improve safety and improve allocation of compliance assistance.
Other Factors Included in New Rule
The rule contains anti-retaliation protections in the form of three provisions: employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation; the procedure for reporting must be reasonable and not deter employees from reporting; and employees must be able to exercise their rights under the law without retaliation.
Some employers believe that OSHA has overextended its authority to create reporting requirements by arguing that Congress has not authorized OSHA to publicize such sensitive information and that publicizing it will go against the intent of Congress to protect the confidentiality of certain establishment-specific data. Also, despite OSHA’s acknowledgement that 30 percent of recordkeeping submissions in 2010 were not submitted electronically, the new rule provides no option for paper record submission. In its attempt to reduce paperwork, OSHA may be placing a burden on employers who will now have to transfer paper records to electronic format and implement an electronic recordkeeping system.
In preparation for the December compliance deadline, companies should discuss the new reporting requirement with their employees, establish a method for electronic submissions and review their policies to ensure compliance with OSHA rules. Companies that do not comply with OSHA standards may face penalties for their violations. Workers have the right to receive safety training, to be provided with information regarding workplace hazards and applicable OSHA standards, and to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Fight for Those Injured in Workplace Accidents
If you were injured in a workplace accident or diagnosed with an occupational illness and need to file a Workers’ Compensation claim, you need experienced, effective legal representation. At Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A., our Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers understand the Workers’ Comp system in South Carolina and have a record of success in helping injured workers get the benefits to which they are entitled. Contact us at or contact us online for a free consultation. We represent clients in Columbia, Lexington County, Richland County, Kershaw County, and throughout South Carolina.