OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA REVISES RECORDKEEPING REGULATIONS
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a revised rule to improve the system employers use to track and record workplace injuries and illnesses.
OSHA's recordkeeping requirements, in place since 1971, were designed to help employers recognize workplace hazards and correct hazardous conditions by keeping track of work-related injuries and illnesses and their causes. The revised rule will produce better information about occupational injuries and illnesses while simplifying the overall recordkeeping system for employers. The rule will also better protect employees' privacy.
"Recordkeeping is a critical part of safety and health efforts in every workplace," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "The revision we are announcing today will not lessen an employer's recordkeeping responsibilities, but it will make it easier to successfully meet the requirements."
The final rule becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2002, and will affect approximately 1.3 million establishments. OSHA is publishing the rule now to give employers ample time to learn the new requirements and to revise computer systems they may be using for recordkeeping. (During this transition period, employers must adhere to requirements of the original rule).
Like the former rule, employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from most requirements of the new rule, as are a number of industries classified as low-hazard-retail, service, finance, insurance and real estate sectors. The new rule updates the list of exempted industries to reflect recent industry data. (All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act must continue to report any workplace incident resulting in a fatality or the hospitalization of three or more employees).
"After three decades of what many employers considered complicated recordkeeping requirements with cumbersome forms and limited technological assistance, OSHA is revising this rule to address some of these concerns. This rulemaking completes a larger agency effort to revise, update and simplify requirements that many considered too lengthy and complex," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "The new rule combines previous regulatory requirements and interpretations into one clear and precise document that will aid an employer's ability to increase workplace safety."
The revised rule includes a provision for recording needlestick and sharps injuries that is consistent with recently-passed legislation requiring OSHA to revise its bloodborne pathogens standard to address such injuries. This provision is expected to result in a significant increase in recordable cases annually.
The recordkeeping rule also conforms with OSHA's ergonomics standard published last November. It simplifies the manner in which employers record musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), replacing a cumbersome system in which MSDs were recorded using criteria different from those for other injuries or illnesses. The revised forms have a separate column for recording MSDs, which will improve the compilation of national data on these disorders.
One of the least understood concepts of recordkeeping has been restricted work; the new rule clarifies the definition of restricted work or light duty and makes it easier to record those cases. Work-related injuries are also better defined to ensure the recording only of appropriate cases while excluding cases clearly unrelated to work.
The revised rule also promotes improved employee awareness and involvement in the recordkeeping process, providing workers and their representatives access to the information on recordkeeping forms and increasing awareness of potential hazards in the workplace. Privacy concerns of employees have also been addressed; the former rule had no privacy protections covering the log used to record work-related injuries and illnesses.
Written in plain language using a question and answer format, the regulation for the first time uses checklists and flowcharts to provide easier interpretations of recordkeeping requirements. Finally, employers are given more flexibility in using computers and telecommunications technology to meet their recordkeeping requirements.
OSHA's recordkeeping requirements provide the source data for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Injury and Illness Survey, the primary source of statistical information concerning workplace injuries and illnesses. BLS collects the data and publishes the statistics, while OSHA interprets and enforces the regulation.
The recordkeeping rule is scheduled to appear in the Jan. 19, 2001 Federal Register. A fact sheet providing highlights of the rule follows this release. For detailed information on the final recordkeeping rule, view OSHA's web site at:
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HIGHLIGHTS OF OSHA'S RECORDKEEPING RULE
OSHA's rule addressing the recording and reporting of occupational injuries and illnesses affects approximately 1.3 million establishments. The revision improves employee involvement, creates simpler forms, provides clearer regulatory requirements, and allows employers more flexibility for using computers to meet OSHA regulatory requirements. The final rule becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2002. The following is a brief summary of some of the key provisions of the recordkeeping rule.
Updates three recordkeeping forms:
Eliminates different criteria for recording work-related injuries and work-related illnesses; one set of criteria will be used for both. (The former rule required employers to record all illnesses, regardless of severity).
Requires records to include any work-related injury or illness resulting in one of the following: death; days away from work; restricted work or transfer to another job; medical treatment beyond first aid; loss of consciousness; or diagnosis of a significant injury/illness by a physician or other licensed health care professional.
Includes new definitions of medical treatment, first aid, and restricted work to simplify recording decisions.
Requires a significant degree of aggravation before a preexisting injury or illness becomes recordable.
Adds additional exemptions to the definition of work-relationship to limit recording of cases involving the eating and drinking of food and beverages, common colds and flu, blood donations, exercise programs, mental illnesses, etc.
Clarifies the recording of "light duty" or restricted work cases. Requires employers to record cases when the injured or ill employee is restricted from their "normal duties" which are defined as work activities the employee regularly performs at least once weekly.
Requires employers to record all needlestick and sharps injuries involving contamination by another person's blood or other bodily fluids.
Requires employers to record standard threshold shifts (STS) in employees' hearing. (An STS is an adverse change in an employee's hearing threshold, relative to his/her most recent audiogram). Provides a separate column on the OSHA Form 300 to capture statistics on hearing loss.
Applies the same recording criteria to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as to all other injuries or illnesses. Employer retains flexibility to determine whether an event or exposure in the work environment caused or contributed to the MSD. Forms include columns dedicated to MSD cases.
Includes separate provisions describing the recording criteria for cases involving the work-related transmission of tuberculosis or medical removal under OSHA standards.
Eliminates the term "lost workdays" and focuses on days away or days restricted or transferred. Also includes new rules for counting that rely on calendar days instead of workdays.
Requires employers to establish a procedure for employees to report injuries and illnesses and tell their employees how to report. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who do report. For the first time, employee representatives will have access to those parts of the OSHA 301 form relevant to the employees they represent.
Protects employee privacy by (1) prohibiting employers from entering an individual's name on Form 300 for certain types of injuries/illnesses (e.g., sexual assaults, HIV infections, mental illnesses, etc.); (2) providing employers the right not to describe the nature of sensitive injuries where the employee's identity would be known; (3) giving employee representatives access only to the portion of Form 301 which contains no personal identifiers; and (4) requiring employers to remove employees' names before providing the data to persons not provided access rights under the rule.
Requires the annual summary to be posted for three months instead of one. Requires certification of the summary by a company executive.
Changes the reporting of fatalities and catastrophes to exclude some motor carrier and motor vehicle accidents.
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