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OSHA, States Spar Over Electronic Reporting

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

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Weeks after the U.S. Department of Labor announced it had corrected an “error” in the implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new electronic injury and illness reporting rule, confusion remains as to the status of employers in states with their own occupational safety plans.

Laptop computer
© iStock.com / patrickbanks

The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Rule requires some employers to submit their injury reports through an online form.

The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Rule went into effect partially in 2016 and fully in 2017 after repeated delays; among other provisions, the regulation requires employers with more than 250 employees, or smaller firms in certain “high-risk” industries such as construction, to electronically submit workplace injury and illness data to OSHA. The data in question is already kept by employers, but was not previously submitted electronically.

Rule Update

OSHA announced at the end of April that it had corrected what it called an error in the implementation of the rule, which had allowed employers in states with state occupational safety plans that had not yet adopted their own electronic-reporting rule to forego submitting records.

The agency said that it informed state plans that all employers they cover will be expected to comply with the rule for calendar year 2017, with a deadline of July 1, 2018, for reporting. Employers in states that already adopted such a rule, and those that do not have their own state plan, were required to report calendar-year 2016 injuries and illnesses already. OSHA says employers in the states in question who were not required to turn in data for 2016 will not be made to retroactively report for that year.

According to Safety + Health Magazine, the states that have not yet implemented their own electronic reporting rule are:

  • California;
  • Maryland;
  • Minnesota;
  • South Carolina;
  • Utah;
  • Washington; and
  • Wyoming.

Some of these states have come out in opposition to OSHA’s contention that the rule applies regardless of the status of the rule in any given stated. Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services issued a press release May 2 insisting that the “electronic reporting requirement does not apply to Wyoming OSHA covered employers despite an April 30, 2018 OSHA news release stating all employers across the country are subject to the rule.”

Department of Labor
Ed Brown, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Labor says employers must file 2017 injury reports online by July 1, regardless of their state plan's status regarding the rule; some states disagree.

Washington’s State Department of Labor & Industries still says on its website that “rulemaking activity is underway” on the topic of electronic reporting in that state, and advises employers, “in the meantime, continue to keep your OSHA 300 Log as before.”

California’s occupational-safety agency, Cal/OSHA, by contrast, said that employers “are advised to comply with federal OSHA’s directive.”

Rocky Implementation

The rollout of the electronic-reporting rule was colored by numerous delays as legal challenges wound through the court system and the administration of President Donald J. Trump took office in 2017 and re-examined many of the new regulations put into place at the tail end of Obama administration.

The online Injury Tracking Application went online Aug. 1, and weeks later was taken down again over concerns about security. The form went live again in October and reportedly no breach was found.

   

Tagged categories: Government; Health and safety; OSHA; Regulations

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