OSHA to require additional employers to submit injury, illness data; two states push back
Washington — OSHA recently announced that employers in the seven states currently without electronic reporting regulations must submit their 2017 injury and illness data to the agency. Two of those states, however, have taken issue with the mandate.
An OSHA official said the agency will meet internally to address the disagreement, but admitted it ultimately can’t issue fines or citations for non-compliance in those seven states: California, Maryland, Minnesota, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
OSHA states in an April 30 press release that it is correcting an error regarding the implementation of the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule published in 2016. The agency previously required only employers under federal OSHA jurisdiction or those in State Plans states that have adopted regulations to submit data.
The Office of the Solicitor disclosed the error to the agency, OSHA Office of Statistical Analysis Director Dave Schmidt said May 2 during an Independent Electrical Contractors webinar on OSHA's electronic reporting requirements and Injury Tracking Application.
In the press release, OSHA states, “Section 18(c)(7) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and relevant OSHA regulations pertaining to State Plans, require all affected employers to submit injury and illness data in the Injury Tracking Application online portal, even if the employer is covered by a State Plan that has not completed adoption of their own state rule.”
The final rule applies to establishments with 250 or more employees and those with 20 to 249 employees in certain industries with historically high injury and illness rates.
On May 1, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries issued a special announcement – titled “OSHA’s reporting requirement does not apply to Washington employers until Washington adopts rule” – stating that it expects to adopt an electronic reporting requirement later this year. It adds that employers in the state have the option to provide information voluntarily to federal OSHA and follow the revised regulation.
The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services issued a press release May 2 that states, “The electronic reporting requirement does not apply to Wyoming OSHA covered employers.” The department added that it could adopt its own electronic reporting requirement by June 19.
“We’re going to be meeting internally on the issue so there’s no confusion,” Schmidt said during the webinar. “We’ll come to a resolution.”
OSHA’s release states that employers will have to submit their Form 300A data by July 1. That deadline moves to March 2 beginning in 2019. OSHA also states that “there will be no retroactive requirement for employers covered by State Plans that have not adopted a state rule to submit data for Calendar Year 2016.”
OSHA taking ‘liberal approach’ to non-responders
Schmidt said during the webinar that OSHA received about 214,000 data submissions – approximately 200,000 fewer than expected. One potential reason, he said, was the less-than-smooth rollout of the Injury Tracking Application. Schmidt said the agency is trying an outreach program that includes postcard reminders to a sample of organizations. He added that employers can avoid citations by providing their 2016 data to OSHA compliance safety and health officers during inspections.
“We’re taking a pretty liberal approach on dealing with non-responders,” he said.
According to Schmidt, OSHA intends to issue, before the end of June, a new notice of proposed rulemaking that changes the rules for establishments with 250-plus workers. Those establishments won’t have to submit their Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses logs (Form 300) or their Injury/Illness Incident Reports (Form 301) if the rule becomes final.
Schmidt added that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is prohibited from sharing data with OSHA, and that filling out a BLS survey doesn’t mean an employer has met the electronic reporting requirement.