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SLC 2024 Preview: Understanding OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Requirements

May 22, 2024
It’s not always easy to determine which workplace incidents needed to be recorded on a company’s OSHA 300 log.

If a worker gets hurt on the job, you need to report it to OSHA—or do you?

The answer isn’t always clear cut, and there are implications for both underreporting and overreporting to OSHA. Plus, you also need to be mindful about your workers’ compensation requirements.

Attorney Micah Dickie of the Fisher Phillips law firm will offer some hypothetical illnesses and injuries and explain whether they should be recorded on OSHA’s 300 logs at the 2024 Safety Leadership Conference that’s taking place Aug. 26-28 in the greater Denver area. More information, including registration, can be found here. Below is a preview of what to expect from Dickie’s presentation.

EHS Today: The mere mention of OSHA will elicit many emotions from safety professionals, including anxiety and dislike. The agency is charged with keeping workers safe, but some ways they try to do that aren't viewed favorably. Is there something you wished folks knew about OSHA and how it works?

Dickie: Great question. Remember that inspectors are people like you and me. That means that they don’t have perfect knowledge about an employer’s worksite or every conceivable safety and health standard that could apply.

One key takeaway is that safety professionals need to be vigilant in dealing with OSHA inspectors to ensure that workers are kept safe while the company’s legal rights are being protected. Safety professionals should be cooperative without being helpful to the detriment of the employer, particularly where employee safety is not even at issue. That means carefully considering each interaction with OSHA at each stage of an inspection.

What's something many safety professionals would be surprised to know about OSHA's recordkeeping requirements?

That recordability for OSHA purposes is not the same as an injury or illness being compensable under a state’s workers’ compensation system, and vice versa. The “work related” test for OSHA recordkeeping often results in injuries or illnesses not being recordable on an employer’s OSHA 300, but that same injury may very well be compensable under workers’ compensation.

What's something you wished safety professionals did more of with regards to OSHA logs?

I wished safety professionals would retain the signed/certified copy of the 300As they post each year for a period of five years.

What's something you wished safety professionals did not do with regards to OSHA logs?

I wished safety professionals didn’t think that they don’t need them because they’ve had no injuries, or that OSHA will not routinely ask for the last five years of OSHA 300 and 300A summaries.

How can safety professionals better communicate what OSHA's 300 logs mean (and any potential implications or affects) to management and frontline workers?

That these logs are required per OSHA regulations and that recordability is determined by OSHA regulations and not employee fault or compensability.

Can OSHA 300 logs demonstrate the ROI of safety? Why or why not?

Not exactly. OSHA logs and the data from them are lagging indicators, so yes, they reflect safety issues. But given that they have to be kept for five years, they may not accurately reflect a company’s current safety efforts.

The law is rarely black and white. How do you help clients navigate the gray areas, such as whether an accident constitutes a recordable?

I advise clients daily on recording issues, and each situation must be closely reviewed based on its facts to determine if it is recordable. Often, I will send clients a memo to rely on for close calls, where OSHA has not put forth guidance on a particular point.

Why is recording an injury such a fact-intensive exercise?

There are dozens of standards that come into play. When you add the hundreds of guidance documents OSHA has published plus its extensive FAQs, recording issues can be surprisingly nuanced.

There's the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. How do you advise clients to be good actors for both?

For recording, the letter of the law is the key, whereas for overall safety matters, OSHA standards are the floor that many safety professionals use as a starting point for ensuring worker safety. Knowing what OSHA standards apply to an activity or worksite is a key step in complying with the letter of the law and then being able to go past that when appropriate.

What's one thing you hope attendees take away from your session at the Safety Leadership Conference?

I hope attendees learn some great tips on when injuries and illnesses are recordable and gain a better awareness of that fact-intensive inquiry that is needed.

About the Author

Nicole Stempak

Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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