• Another Blueprint for Enforcement: OSHA Announces Final Rule Amending Recordkeeping Standard
  • September 29, 2014 | Author: Daniel R. Flynn
  • Law Firm: Leech Tishman - Lisle Office
  • On September 11, 2014, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) announced a Final Rule that will significantly amend the recordkeeping standard. The Final Rule will go into effect on January 1, 2015*. The amendment will provide OSHA with two additional paths to initiate significantly more workplace inspections.

    Increased Reporting Requirements

    Under the current recordkeeping standard, facilities under OSHA’s jurisdiction need to report to OSHA “[w]ithin eight (8) hours after the death of any employee from a work-related incident or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident”. 29 C.F.R. § 1904.39(a). These reports typically result in an OSHA inspection of the workplace. Indeed, under OSHA’s Field Operations Manual, such fatality/catastrophe inspections are second in priority only to inspections of situations in which workers are exposed to imminent danger.

    The Final Rule will require employers to report to OSHA “[w]ithin eight (8) hours after the death of any employee as a result of a work-related incident” and “[w]ithin twenty-four (24) hours after the in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees or an employee’s amputation or an employee’s loss of an eye, as a result of a work-related incident.” 29 C.F.R. § 1903.39(a) as amended. OSHA will likely use these additional reports as a basis to initiate additional workplace inspections as it has historically done in response to reports submitted under the existing recordkeeping standard.

    Employers should take the opportunity to proactively evaluate existing safety and health programs to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, even the most safety-conscious employers experience workplace accidents. Following a workplace accident, employers should evaluate whether the accident could have been avoided through certain corrective actions in order to enhance the employer’s safety and health program, and thus the safety and health of the work environment. Since any workplace accident that results in an in-patent hospitalization or amputation will likely result in an OSHA inspection under the impending revisions to the recordkeeping standard, employers may wish to take steps to ensure that portions of accident investigations remain privileged while the employer finalizes the investigation and evaluates possible causes and corrective actions.

    SIC to NAICS

    OSHA’s current recordkeeping standard provides an exemption to OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping requirements for a number of employers listed in a number of Standard Industrial Classification (“SIC”) codes. The Final Rule will amend this list by utilizing North American Industry Classification System (“NAICS”) codes instead of the previously-used SIC codes. The result is that an estimated 200,000 employers that were previously exempt will now have to comply with OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. Additionally, all employers that are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, including those that fall in an exempted NAICS code, must comply with the new reporting requirements described above.

    * This amendment is separate from the amendment OSHA proposed last November that would require certain employers to submit 300 logs and 301 forms on a quarterly basis.