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OSHA Issues Final Rule on Electronic Reporting

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule on electronic reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses which takes effect on August 10, 2016. The final rule requires employers with more than 250 employees or employers in “high risk industries,” such as agriculture, construction, utilities, and manufacturing, with 20-249 employees who are currently subject to record-keeping regulations must begin electronically reporting workplace incidents by July 1, 2017. Paper reporting will no longer be accepted. OSHA will no longer accept alternate “equivalent” forms. Companies will have to file OSHA form 300A, 300, or 301 electronically.  OSHA will publicly disclose the information obtained from electronic workplace injury and illness records, absent any details or explanations. Additionally, the guidance that accompanies the rule indicates that employers may not have policies in place that discourage a reasonable employee from accurately reporting a work related injury or illness. This could have serious implications for many employers as it immediately calls into question any policy that offers a reward for a safe work environment, or that may deter an employee from choosing to report an injury due to unfavorable consequences, such as post-accident drug and alcohol testing. In preparation, employers should review current policies in employment handbooks and contracts which may contain language that could be suggested as deterring employees from reporting, which under the guidance to the final rule, may be a violation of the law. Employers are responsible for informing employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses and should establish a reasonable procedure for employees to report promptly and accurately. If you have questions or concerns about how OSHA’s final rule affects your company policies, please contact one of our attorneys.