Employers are required to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) accident, illness or injury reporting and posting requirements, unless they are specifically exempt.
Government regulation of workplace safety through OSHA requires every employer who is subject to its rules and regulations to comply with certain recordkeeping and posting requirements. There are exemptions from these requirements, but unless you fall under a specific exception to the rules, consider yourself covered.
The following are the general rules regarding OSHA-required recordkeeping and posting requirements:
- Accident reporting requirements apply to all employers.
- Illness or injury reporting requirements apply to businesses that have more than 10 employees and those that are not exempt.
- Posting requirements apply to all employers.
If you're a considered a small business under the OSHA recordkeeping rules (you have 10 or fewer employees), it's important to understand that although small businesses are exempt from most of the injury and illness recording requirements, the small business exemption does not apply to the following accident reporting requirements:
- Within eight hours, you must report by telephone or in person to the nearest OSHA office (or by calling 1-800-321-OSHA) any accident that results in one or more fatalities or hospitalization of three or more employees.
- You must provide the public with material safety data sheet (MSDS) data upon request.
OSHA recordkeeping and reporting
Every employer covered by OSHA and not exempt must maintain certain records of job-related accidents and injuries. OSHA Forms 300 and 300A are injury and illness logs used for these records. The forms:
- contain a line for each injury or illness, other than minor first aid treatment that does not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, or job transfer
- provide a summary that includes the total of the previous year's injury and illness experience
- recap the year on the last page that must be posted in the workplace from February 1 through April 30 each year even if there are no illnesses or injuries reported
The OSHA 300A form must be made available to employees who move from work site to work site and to employees who do not report to any fixed establishment on a regular basis.
Filing and recordkeeping rules. The following filing and recordkeeping rules apply:
- Do not file Form 300 with the government unless requested to do so.
- Keep the completed form on file at the work site and make it available to employees and OSHA compliance officers upon request.
- Preserve the forms for five years.
HIPAA compliance. Employers do not have to remove the names from the Form 300 log before providing access in order to comply with the privacy requirements contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The exception for disclosures required by law applies because the recordkeeping rules require that employees, former employees, and employee representatives have access to the complete log, including names, except for privacy concern cases.
Accident reporting. OSHA Form 301 is an individual accident report that must be completed within six days' notice of a situation that is recorded on Form 300. This form provides additional details about each injury or illness listed on OSHA Form 300. Some insurance or workers' compensation forms can substitute for this form in order to avoid duplication.
Form 301 should contain:
- employer's name
- employer's mail address
- location, if different from mail address
- employee's name and social security number
- employee's home address
- employee's age
- employee's gender
- employee's occupation
- employee's department
- place of accident or exposure
- whether the place of accident or exposure was on employer's premises
- what the employee was doing when injured
- how the accident occurred
- a description of the injury or illness in detail and an indication of the parts of the body affected by the injury or illness
- name of the object or substance that directly injured the employee
- date of injury or initial diagnosis of occupational illness
- whether the employee died
- name and address of the attending physician
- if hospitalized, name and address of hospital
Additional information that is required includes the case or file number, the date of the report, the name of the person who prepared the report, and the person's title/official designation.
Take these recordkeeping requirements seriously to avoid problems with OSHA. OSHA offers a handbook to help you with the latest recordkeeping requirements.
OSHA posting requirements
Your business is subject to different posting requirements under OSHA rules:
- OSHA posters. Regardless of the size of your business, if you have any employees you must display posters that inform employees of their job safety rights. Spanish and English copies of these posters (OSHA 3165 and 3167) are available at the OSHA web site.
- Material safety data sheets (MSDSs). MSDSs must be available and displayed prominently in the workplace.
- Forms 300 and 300A. If your company is required to complete Forms 300 and 300A, Form 300A must be posted in the workplace from February 1 through April 30 each year even if there are no illnesses or injuries reported.
Penalties. Failure to follow these posting requirements may result in a citation during an OSHA inspection.