WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHEN?
March 2, 2020 is the suspense date for around 360,000 entities in the U.S. private and public sector to send their completed 2019 300A Forms electronically to OSHA Headquarters. In 2019, OSHA revised the reporting requirement so that only the 300A Summary Page now has to be submitted rather than the complete 300 Log. OSHA is also requiring that each electronic submission contain the organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN). Establishments included in this reporting requirement that had no OSHA Recordable Incident Events during 2019 will still have to submit their completed 300A Forms to OSHA.
WHY SHOULD MANAGERS & BUSINESS OWNERS PAY ATTENTION TO THIS?
This could be very important for business entities because this electronic submission requirement presents a considerably greater OSHA compliance risk for many work locations than the mere posting of a paper 300 Log on an employee bulletin board. It has been reported by several compliance experts that OSHA has software to scan the electronically submitted logs so as to identify those entities with significantly higher OSHA recordable incident rates and DART rates than their industry group average.
There is also the opposite problem that a given establishment could report an OSHA Recordable Incident Rate that in effect appears just too good to be true. An example would be large sawmill with 200 workers that reported no OSHA Recordable Incidents during the course of the entire year. As the average OSHA Recordable Incident Rate for such an establishment with 100-full time workers should be around 6.0 annually, it is not surprising that having no such events with twice the number of employees could well be considered by OSHA as an example of intentional underreporting of workplace injury and illness events.
WHAT DOES THE COMPLETED OSHA 300A FORM TELL ABOUT AN ORGANIZATION?
The completed OSHA 300A Summary Page is required to be submitted electronically to OSHA Headquarters. The form lists the entity’s overall OSHA Recordable Incident Rate for that year along with the DART rate, which are those injuries that require time off from work, light duty or work transfer. The rates are based on the number of workplace injury and illness events per 100 fulltime workers annually. OSHA pays more attention to an establishment’s DART Rate because it is a reflection of the severity of the workplace injuries while the Recordable Incident Rate is a reflection of accident frequency. The affected organizations will still be required to maintain copies of their 300 and 301 forms onsite. In addition, a copy of the 300A form must be posted at a prominent establishment location from February 1 to April 30 each year.
IS THE DATA ELECTRONICALLY SUBMITTED TO OSHA KEPT CONFIDENTIAL? WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
OSHA is currently required to keep submitted information confidential, but this has been challenged in court and there is no guarantee that OSHA won’t release individual 300A Forms in 2020. This could be potentially damaging if an entity that has a higher than average Recordable Incident Rate is the subject of a lawsuit, a union organizing effort or engaged in bidding on a competitive project. In addition, employers should take measures to insure that unauthorized parties do not get access to OSHA 300 Log data that contains employee personal information such as names, nature of injuries and involved body parts. Currently, employees, former employees, their personal representative and authorized employee representative have the right to demand access to 300 Log information.
CAN THIRD PARTIES SUCH AS HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT OR SAFETY CONSULTING FIRMS MAINTAIN 300 LOGS FOR A GIVEN EMPLOYER AND SUBMIT COMPLETED 300A FORMS TO OSHA ON THEIR BEHALF?
Yes, OSHA allows for such third party activity. However, the completeness and accuracy of the data submitted is the sole responsibility of the employer and not the third party.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL COMPUTER HARDWARE OR SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS FOR SUBMITTING A COMPLETED 300 FORM TO OSHA?
No, only a working internet connection and the ability to upload information. OSHA provides a secure website with instructions for direct data reporting. Establishments have the option of submitting Recordable Incident Rate data by attaching an electronic file in a CSV or API format. Entities can access the secure OSHA website by clicking here.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES IF AN ENTITY FAILS TO SUBMIT THEIR 300 LOGS AS REQUIRED?
OSHA has estimated that around one-third of those required entities have failed to submit 300 Forms in the past. This type of violation normally can be subject to fines of almost $13,000. So far, the OSHA response to this mass noncompliance has been uncharacteristically mild, with that agency mostly sending warning letters to entities to submit their OSHA 300A logs in the future. On a more practical scale, OSHA simply lacks the manpower and compliance resources to take action against such a large number of employers who failed to submit their OSHA 300A Forms. However, OSHA’s position on this subject could change in 2020 and Centurion Insurance Services strongly urges organizations not to use this as an excuse for failing to submit their electronic OSHA 300A Forms by the required deadline.
OSHA has a history of being more vindictive with establishments that intentionally submit false or misleading information on their 300 Logs. OSHA can consider these “Willful” Violations and employers could be subject to a maximum fines of more than $132,000 per occurrence.
IS YOUR ORGANIZATION REQUIRED TO SUBMIT A 300 LOG TO OSHA?
Many industry groups are required to submit their 300A Logs if they have from 20 to 249 employees for a single location, which OSHA refers to as an “establishment.” Most establishments, unless specifically exempted from such record keeping by OSHA and having more than 249 employees at a single location, will also be required to submit electronic forms.
What can Centurion do to assist you with OSHA 300A reporting?
Given ample time to conduct an analysis, Centurion’s compliance experts can review the OSHA 300A Summary Page before you submit it. We can compare your OSHA Recordable Incident Rate and DART Rate to your specific industry group average, by benchmarking it against U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. If we think that your 2020 Incident Rate numbers are high enough to attract OSHA attention, we can assist you in reviewing your completed 300 and 301 forms in order to determine if they may contain any potentially inaccurate or misleading information such as over-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses. We may also need to compare your completed 300A Form with your workers compensation insurance loss run from the same time period to identify any workers compensation claims that actually qualified as OSHA Recordable events but were not recorded as such.