Almost 200,000 worksites neglected to file their 2016 annual injury and illness log summaries by Dec. 31, 2017, breaking compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) new electronic recordkeeping rule, according to www.constructiondive.com. Although OSHA had anticipated 350,000 worksites would file, only 153,653 did, in addition to nearly 61,000 worksites that were not required to file electronically but did so.
Legal experts say the low compliance rate for Form 300A could be because some employers thought they were exempt based on their size or industry. In other cases, some employers may have expected the compliance date to be delayed again or that they would be better off withholding their summaries rather than giving OSHA the information it could use to plan future inspections. In addition, some employers might not have wanted their summary information to be posted online as the rule mandates.
OSHA has until June 15 to inspect locations for violations of the electronic reporting rule. For those not in compliance, the agency could issue an other-than-serious violation citation, which carries a maximum penalty of $12,934. Companies who reported technical difficulties in trying to file electronically could be exempt from a citation, as are those who can produce a paper copy of the report or show they have filed their 2017 summaries. Some experts believe OSHA is inviting companies to violate the rule by not being more aggressive in its compliance efforts.
The information on 300A is a summary of logged injuries and illnesses kept throughout the year on Form 300. That form includes work-related deaths, as well as injuries or illnesses that cause a worker's loss of consciousness, restricted work activity, transfer to another position, days away from work or medical treatment beyond first aid. Form 300 is also where confidential employee information is maintained. In addition to the electronic filing requirement, Form 300A must be posted at the worksite from Feb. 1 through April 30 each year.
Originally, the electronic reporting rule required that employers also submit Form 300 for publication online, but the agency received pushback from construction industry groups and others affected by the mandate who claimed the provision violated employers' First and Fifth Amendment rights and could reveal proprietary information, including employee work hours. Critics also said posting injury and illness information without including the measures employers took in response would give the public a one-sided view.
In November 2017, OSHA said it would issue a proposal in an effort to amend the rule so employers would not have to submit Forms 300 or 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) electronically.