The extension is being made to give the new administration an opportunity to review reporting requirements.
At the end of June, OSHA filed a proposal to delay the compliance date of its rule entitled “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.” The initial deadline “by which certain employers are required to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A to OSHA electronically” was originally set for July 1, 2017. The action extends the submission deadline to December 1, 2017.
Waiting for the New Administration
The Department of Labor announced that it was extending the deadline “to provide the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation and allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, which will not be available until August.” This rule would simply require that employers with 250 or more employees and those with at least 20 employees in certain high-risk industries start to submit electronically information already being kept in their OHSA logs. For establishments OSHA deems high-risk, please see this list:
Lack of Resources
“They just don’t have the resources right now to be able to put all that into place,” Edwin Foulke, an Atlanta-based partner at Fisher & Phillips L.L.P. and a former OSHA assistant secretary of labor told Business Insurance. “To me, it seemed like it was a stretch anyway to require all this. The (Occupational Safety and Health) Act talks about recordkeeping and collecting data, but it never envisioned such a broad sweeping thing. I just don’t think the agency is equipped to handle all the data they would get from a technical standpoint.”
Proposal to Reconsider, Revise or Remove Certain Provisions
In addition to postponing the compliance effective date, OSHA “also intends to issue a separate proposal to reconsider, revise or remove other provisions of the prior final rule.” OSHA is referring to the rule’s public reporting and anti-retaliation provision, which employers have strongly objected to.
Much of the reason for delaying compliance and forestalling decisions about whether the other rule requirements will be “reconsidered, revised or removed” are in recognition of the fact that an assistant secretary of labor of occupational safety and health has not yet been nominated. That could change a lot of things.
But it doesn’t mean employers should be lax about these rules. “Employers need to make sure the logs are right,” Mr. Foulke told Business Insurance. “They should be making sure that all that data is in place and correct and available. Assuming that come Dec. 1 (OSHA) decides that they’re not going to change that, (employers) should be able to put that information quickly into the system.” Foulke also thinks that if OSHA was able to collect and mine all the data from OSHA 300A logs the information would be quite valuable for improving safety and health programs, investigating accidents and determining their root causes.
Employers, however, remain concerned that the anti-retaliation law as proposed would ban or limit safety incentive programs. They are also concerned about making data from their logs public.
We’ll try to keep you updated on when the new electronic compliance date takes effect and changes in the original provisions regarding public reporting and anti-retaliation.