On May 12, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the final rule called “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses” which revised the Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses standard. This revision did not add or remove any recording requirements for employers covered by the standard, but not surprisingly, the final rule did come with some extras that were not well described in the proposed rule.

The final rule includes the following elements which employers must comply with:

  • Electronic reporting of injury and illness records for certain size companies
  • Informing employees of their rights for reporting injuries and illnesses
  • Employee access to company injury and illness data
  • Compliant incentive programs

The provision of the final rule that requires electronic submittals becomes effective on January 1, 2017, but note that the provisions on employee rights and access to injury and illness records (1904.35 and 1904.36) go into effective on August 10, 2016.

According to OSHA, this revision was necessary to modernize the reporting system and provide more timely injury and illness data, as well as enhance the availability of these records to the public. Even though there was much opposition to the proposed rule, and several industries submitted comments to OSHA about concerns of data accuracy and privacy, the final rule shows that OSHA dismissed many of these comments and moved forward with the proposed agenda.

Electronic Reporting

One main element to the final rule is the requirement for companies to electronically submit their injury and illness records. Again, this requirement goes into effect January 1, 2017, but will be phased in over several years. OSHA outlined this requirement dependent on company size and type of industry. The printing industry falls under the manufacturing sector and the following is the phase in periods for submitting records electronically:

Company Size

Year 2017

Year 2018

Year 2019 and thereafter

Establishments with at least 250 employees

Must submit their 2016 Form 300A information by July 1, 2017

Must submit all 2017 Forms (300A, 300, and 301) information by July 1, 2018

Must submit all Forms (300A, 300, and 301) by March 2

Establishments with at least 20 employees, but fewer than 250

Must submit their 2016 Form 300A information by July 1, 2017

Must submit their 2017 Form 300A information by July 1, 2018

Must submit their Form 300A information by March 2


Keep in mind that if your company was previously exempt from this rule but are notified by OSHA to electronically submit the records, you are obligated to follow those instructions.

Once these electronic records are provided to OSHA, they will be posted on a publically accessible website. OSHA had previously stated they would not post personal information to the public website that could be used to identify individual employees. However, during a stakeholders meeting, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, had a different view, stating that OSHA will include personal information from an incident when it’s considered a “public event” and/or where there is a police report or newspaper article written about the incident, and that OSHA’s legal obligation to not include personal information is different in these cases.

Employee Rights

Under the standard (1904.35), employers are also required to provide employees with reporting procedures that are “reasonable,” and explain the rights of employees regarding the reporting of injuries and illnesses, and how the employer is prevented from retaliating against anyone who reports work related injuries and/or illnesses.

This means that as an employer, you must implement procedures that allow employees to promptly report work-related injuries and illnesses and be able to show that employee have been told of their rights. Further, the prevention of retaliating against employees means employers cannot discharge or discriminate against any employee who reports a work-related injury or illness.

Employee Access

Another requirement that was not well-addressed in the proposed rule is for the employer to provide employee access to their company’s injury and illness records. While this was a general understanding under the previous rule and should not add any compliance efforts, it has nonetheless been specifically addressed within this final rule.

Safety Incentive Programs

For some time, OSHA has felt that certain safety incentive programs worked to discourage employees from reporting any work-related injuries and illnesses. Through this rule change OSHA believes that prohibited incentive programs, as well as those including post-accident drug and alcohol testing, will be corrected.

However, OSHA has not clarified what incentive program elements would be considered prohibitive. Rather, it seems this assessment would be at the discretion of the OSHA compliance officers during inspections, leading to a more critical view of a company’s incentive and/or disciplinary program. Under this vague approach, it’s likely that OSHA wants to see “proactive” safety policies and a process to “prevent” an accident or illness. Programs and policies that address issues after the fact are likely to be deemed a violation. 

What employers should do is examine all incentive programs and determine they are structured in a way to avoid any potential discouragement of reporting work-related injuries and/or illnesses. It is OSHA’s position that a lack of reporting injuries and illnesses leads to a lack of recording injuries and illnesses, which leads to inaccurate recordkeeping, and ultimately will result in violations and penalties.

Now Is the Time to Act

This new rule holds the potential for increased and more targeted OSHA inspections, and if you couple this with the coming increase of OSHA penalty amounts that are just around the corner (an 80% increase), non-compliance just a got a lot more expensive.

So this is the time to review your records and safety policies and make sure they are spot on accurate and compliant.