Learn about OSHA before making a potentially costly assumption about injuries or illnesses in the workplace. OSHA is well-funded under the Biden administration and enforcement is increasing substantially. Here are some useful OSHA facts, definitions, and guidance you should know before someone is injured or becomes ill at your work:
Recordable Injury or Illness: Employer is required by law to report these to OSHA and must be recorded on official OSHA recordkeeping forms.
Employers with 10 or fewer employees and those in low-hazard industries are partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records; they are not automatically considered “covered employers.” Covered employers could be any business with a machine, like a steamer, sewing machine, or stove.
Serious safety violations of OSHA can cost $13,000 per violation and if unabated, daily fines of $13K are assessed. Repeat serious safety violations cost $130K. Safety violations are most often related to fall protection deficiencies, hazard communication, scaffolding, PPE, and machinery.
The OSHA Form 300 Log must be maintained by covered employers. The OSHA Form 300A must be posted by covered employers in a highly visible, high-traffic place (annually, 2/1-4/1). The OSHA Form 301 must be completed thoroughly for each recordable incident that occurs at a covered employer.
Employers must retain all OSHA Forms for Recording Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (300, 301, and 300A) for a period of five years following the end of the calendar year the records pertain to. OSHA also requires that employers update their stored 300 Logs during this five-year period if changes occur. Changes include newly discovered recordable injuries or illnesses and any changes that have occurred in the classification of previously recorded injuries and illnesses. If the description or outcome of a case changes, you should remove or strikethrough the original entry and enter the new information.
Determine if an injury or illness is recordable when, as a result, the employee misses days of work, has restricted work, receives medical treatment beyond first aid, transfers to another job, loses consciousness, is diagnosed by a physician/medical professional with significant illness or injury, and dies.
Different levels of incidents have varying deadlines for reporting to OSHA.
Finally - remember that retaliation against employees/whistle-blowers is strictly prohibited. A certain way to engender an enemy of your OSHA inspector is to act poorly to the employee or employees who report unsafe working conditions to OSHA.
While this may feel unnecessarily loaded with details, this isn’t even a fraction of a percent of potentially relevant guidelines your business could be subject to in the unfortunate event of a workplace injury or illness. COVID-19 has only ratcheted up the ante, in that, there is an entire body of established and developing regulations pursuant to COVID-19 and employer responsibilities under OSHA.