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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
April 3, 1998
Organization Resources Counselors, Inc.
1910 Sunderland Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-1608
Dear Mr. White:
Thank you for your letter of March 9 asking for a clarification of OSHA's injury and illness recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR 1904) as they relate to the maintenance of forms using computer systems. As you noted in your letter, the existing regulations (1904.2 (b)) allow for computerization and centralization of the OSHA 200 Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, but are silent on the issue of whether or not an employer may maintain the OSHA 101 Supplementary Record of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in such a manner.
OSHA has decided to modify its previous policy as set out in the enclosed 1992 letter from Stephen A. Newell to Charles R. Payne. We will now allow employers additional flexibility to maintain the OSHA 101 records in a manner that best suits their individual needs without affecting the value of the information to the government. In addition, OSHA believes the entry of this information into a computerized database will make it easier for the employer to analyze the data for management of workplace safety and health activities. While OSHA does not require employers to conduct these types of analysis, we do encourage employers to use their occupational injury and illness information to improve workplace safety and health conditions.
Thus, an employer may keep the OSHA 101 forms on data processing equipment, at a central location, or both, if three conditions are met as follows:
- The employer can enter the data for the OSHA 101 Form into the computer system within 6 working days after receiving information that a recordable injury or illness case has occurred, as required by 1904.4.
- The printed records from the computer system contain all of the information included on the OSHA Form 101, as required by 1904.4.
- The employer can provide, upon request, the printed records for a representative of the Secretary of Labor for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the OSH Act, and by representatives of the Secretary of Health and Human Services during an investigation under section 20(b) of the act, or by any representative of a State accorded jurisdiction for occupational safety and health inspections or for statistical compilation, as required by 1904.7.
The current regulation does not include a time within which the employer must produce the records during an OSHA inspection. OSHA's February 1996 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) included provisions, that if adopted as a final rule, would require employers to produce the records within 4 hours of a request during an onsite visit. However, these provisions have not been finalized and are not in effect at this time. Under the current system, the employer must produce the records for an inspector within a reasonable time frame that may vary depending on the circumstances of the request. It is our position that the employer would be in compliance with the current regulation's "reasonable time frame" and OSHA's NPRM position on the issue if he or she can produce the supplementary records within 4 hours.
Should you have any additional concerns in this matter, please contact the Division of Recordkeeping Requirements at (202) 219-6463. Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health.
OSHA Information Technology