Each year, you must post your OSHA Form 300A Summary report from February 1 through April 30, even if your employees have not experienced any workplace injuries or illnesses. As of today, May 1, you should take the report off the bulletin board, and file it in your records. Note too that both federal and state OSHA offices require some evidence that the form was actually posted for the proper period. You can make a signed, written note on the back of the form to that effect.
All employers required to keep Form 300, the Injury and Illness Log, must utilize the annual summary Form 300A to comply with posting requirements even if there have been no recordable injuries or illnesses, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue to focus on record-keeping violations during the year.
The summary must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in the covered year. More than 1.4 million establishments are required to maintain OSHA logs on an annual basis. The summary Form 300A reports a business’s total year-end number of fatalities, missed workdays due to injury or illness on the job, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on Form 300. It also includes the number of employees and the hours they worked for the year.
Which Employers Must Track Injuries and Illnesses?
Nonexempt employers with more than 10 employees must track injuries and illnesses and post the form. Certain low-hazard industries are exempt. Businesses that employ 10 or fewer workers or those that fall into an exempt category must also record injuries if they are required to by OSHA or the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics for survey purposes. Only the summary must be posted; the log does not have to be displayed but must be available to employees, their representatives or OSHA inspectors. Companies with multiple jobsites should keep a separate log and summary for each location that is expected to be operational for at least a year.
Newly Covered Employers
The list of industries exempt to the rule changed Jan. 1, 2015. Prior to 2015, the exemption list was based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system; going forward the list is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The exemption for employers with 10 or fewer employees was retained.
OSHA requires that a company executive certify the 300A summary. Company executives are defined as:
- An owner of the company.
- An officer of the corporation.
- The highest-ranking company official working at the site.
- The immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking company official working at the site.
This official must certify that he or she has reviewed the related records and that the posted summary is accurate and complete, to the best of his or her knowledge. HR managers normally cannot sign the OSHA 300A summary unless they are an officer of the company. Being an HR manager is not good enough. The certifier must be a senior executive. OSHA describes this requirement as imposing senior management accountability for the integrity and accuracy of the reported data.
The 300A summary must be posted at each jobsite from Feb. 1 to April 30, in a conspicuous area where notices to employees are customarily placed. Copies of the form should be provided to any employees who may not see the posted summary because they do not regularly work onsite. Employers have a duty to update and maintain records for five years plus the current year and provide them upon request for inspection by OSHA investigators. Employers must also ensure that the annual summary is not altered, defaced or obscured during the posting period.
Those employers who maintain these records in electronic form should still retain the signed posted summary after the Feb. 1 to April 30 posting period, to prove that it was properly signed.
Generally, only serious injuries resulting from workplace activity must be reported. A business should review an employee’s activities to determine whether an injury is work-related. Businesses are not required to report injuries that stem from activities that are merely incidental to work responsibilities. A serious injury is one that results in a fatality, loss of consciousness, days away from work, a restricted work schedule or job transfer, or a significant injury or illness diagnosis by a health care provider, or that requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid. Employers should not report incidents that require only basic first aid. If the injury is of a sensitive nature, such as sexual assault, then the employer should write “privacy case” in the box for the worker’s name.
Before the annual summary is prepared, the [OSHA] record-keeping rule imposes an express duty to review the log to verify that entries are complete and accurate. Employers must review the records as extensively as necessary to ensure accuracy.
OSHA requires companies to enter the average number of employees and the total hours they worked on the summary form. An employer can plug those figures into a formula to calculate injury and illness incidence rates and compare them with the data of other establishments in similar industries.
OSHA scrutinizes the injury and illness record-keeping forms for even minor errors in descriptions and boxes checked. Take time to review the forms for technical errors as well as to review accident reports, first aid logs and other related materials to ensure that all recordable incidents have been included and that records are consistent.