Many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses.
A recordable injury or illness is any of the following:
- Work-related fatality
- Work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job
- Work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
- Work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums
However, certain low-risk industries are exempted and minor injuries requiring only first aid are not required to be recorded.
Examples of first aid are:
- Using a nonprescription medication at nonprescription strength
- Administering tetanus immunizations (other immunizations, such as the Hepatitis B vaccine or rabies vaccine, are considered medical treatment)
- Cleaning, flushing, or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin
- Using wound coverings such as bandages, gauze pads, etc., or using butterfly bandages
- Using hot or cold therapy
- Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress
There are also separate recording criteria for work-related cases involving needle sticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis.
Small Employer Exemption
Under the small employer exemption, employers with no more than 10 employees at any time during the preceding calendar year are not required to maintain Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records of occupational illnesses and injuries during the current year unless requested to do so in writing by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Employers with 11 or more workers at any given time during the year are not eligible for the small employer exemption in the following year. This total includes all workers employed by the business, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. However, the owners and partners of sole proprietorships or partnerships are not considered employees and would not be counted. Similarly, family members on family farms are not counted as employees. Alternatively, corporate officers who receive payment for their services are considered employees of the corporation.
Partial Exemption for Establishments in Certain Industries
OSHA regulations also provide a partial exemption for certain low-hazard industries. To determine if an employer meets the requirements for this exemption, an employer must determine their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code number, available on the U.S. Census Bureau NAICS main webpage or by contacting the nearest OSHA office or state agency for help.
Once the NAICS code has been identified, use the Partially Exempt Industries Table to determine if the industry is exempt from the recordkeeping rule.
Important: States with OSHA-approved plans may require employers to keep records for the state, even though employers are within an industry that is exempted from doing so under OSHA regulations.
Maintaining and Posting Records
Each February through April, employers must post Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) recorded from the previous year. Also, if requested, copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives. The records must be maintained at the worksite for at least five years.
Electronic Submission of Records
Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, as well as establishments with 20–249 employees that are classified in certain high-risk industries, must electronically submit Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA).
Establishments with fewer than 20 employees at all times during the year do not have to routinely submit information electronically to OSHA.
Employers must submit their completed Form 300A to OSHA by March 2 of the year after the calendar year covered by the form. For instance, an employer’s calendar year 2023 Form 300A must be submitted by March 2, 2024. OSHA provides a secure website with the following three options for data submission:
- Users can manually enter data into a web form;
- Users can upload a CSV file to process multiple establishments at the same time; and
- Users of automated recordkeeping systems may transmit data electronically via an application programming interface.
OSHA’s ITA is accessible from the ITA launch page, where employers can provide their OSHA Form 300A information.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements
Work-Related Fatalities and Severe Injuries
All employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report the following work-related incidents to OSHA, even employers who are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA records due to company size or industry:
- Fatalities and any amputation within eight hours
- Loss of an eye or inpatient hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours
Of note, only fatalities occurring within 30 days of the work-related incident must be reported to OSHA. Further, for an inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye, incidents must be reported to OSHA only if they occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident. Employers do not have to report an event if it:
- Resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway (except in a construction work zone);
- Occurred on a commercial or public transportation system, such as an airplane or bus; or
- Involved hospitalization for diagnostic testing or observation only.
What to Report
Employers reporting a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye to OSHA must report the following information:
- Establishment name, location, and time of the work-related incident
- Type of reportable event (i.e., fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye)
- Amount and names of employees who suffered the event
- Contact person and their phone number
- Brief description of the work-related incident
Employees and their representatives must be involved in the reporting and recordkeeping system as follows:
- Employers must inform each employee how to report a work-related injury or illness.
- Employers must inform each employee that:
- They have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses; and
- Employers are prohibited from discharging or in any manner discriminating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.
- Employers provide access to their injury and illness records for employees and their representatives.
OSHA regulations do not specify how the employer must accomplish these objectives, so employers have the flexibility to set up systems that are appropriate to their workplaces. The size of the workforce, employee language proficiency and literacy levels, the workplace culture, and other factors should be considered when determining what will be most effective for any particular workplace.
Employers must retain OSHA forms on file for five years following the year to which they pertain. Employers must also update Form 300 with any changes that may occur to the recorded cases during that period.
Employers must complete the following OSHA injury and illness reporting and recordkeeping forms:
- OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
- OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
- OSHA Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report
OSHA Forms 300 and 301 are maintained on an ongoing basis and recordable injuries and illnesses must be entered on these forms as they occur throughout the year. The OSHA Form 300A is completed after the end of the year, summarizing the number of recordable cases that occurred. Employers may use equivalent forms in place of these forms as long as the equivalent forms contain all of the same data elements and are as easy to read as the OSHA forms. Any work-related injury or illness that meets certain severity criteria must be entered on the forms within seven calendar days of learning about its occurrence.
Employers must fill out Form 301 for every recordable work-related injury or illness. Together with Form 300 and Form 300A, the employer and OSHA can develop a picture of the extent and severity of work-related incidents.
Common Mistakes when Maintaining OSHA Forms
The following are common mistakes most often found when employers complete OSHA 300, 301, and 300A forms:
- Failure to keep the log
- Failure to post the summary log from February 1 to April 30
- Failure to include a unique case number on Form 300 and the same case number on Form 301, or wherever is appropriate on the 301-equivalent form, in place of an employee identifier
- Failure to provide a detailed description of the injury
- Marking more than one column for classifying the case
- Incorrectly entering the number of scheduled workdays missed
- Incorrect addition resulting in unequal totals on the log and summary
- Failure to get the summary signed by the highest-ranking person at the site
- Confusing OSHA-recordable injuries with workers’ compensation claims
- Recording every injury or illness, and ensuring all incidents meet the OSHA recordable requirements
Employers may not discourage workers from reporting an injury or illness and may not retaliate against employees for such reporting. Employers must also inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, and an employer’s procedure for reporting must be reasonable so as not to deter or discourage employees from reporting.
Ensure Your Recordkeeping and Reporting is Compliant
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