New OSHA recordkeeping rules go into effect

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:23 pm

New recordkeeping rules for employers to follow regarding worker illnesses and injuries are now in place. The revised OSHA rule is designed to simplify the overall recordkeeping system for employers, and provide better information. In addition, an employee’s privacy protection will be better than the former rule covering the log usage.
The previous recordkeeping requirements had been in effect since 1971. The log was originally designed to help employers recognize workplace hazards and correct hazardous conditions by keeping track of work-related injuries and illnesses and their causes.
As with the former rule, employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from most requirements of the new rule.
OSHA has also exempted a number of industries classified as low-hazard, such as retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate sectors. Even though some industries are exempted, they must continue to report any workplace incident resulting in a fatality or the hospitalization of three or more employees.
The revised rule took effect Jan. 1, except for provisions covering hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders. OSHA is reconsidering those issues and is delaying including those provisions until Jan. 1, 2003.
The new regulation is written in plain language. In order to make the rule easier to understand, it uses a question-and-answer format, checklists, and flowcharts. The new rule claims to create simpler, clearer and, in some cases, smaller forms. For example, the log of work-related injuries and illnesses is now a legal-size form rather than ledger-size.
The new rule defines restricted work or light duty, and makes it easier to record those cases.
The new rule provides a single set of recording criteria for both work-related injuries and work-related illnesses. Regardless of severity, the former rule required employers to record all illnesses. A work-related injury or illness resulting in one of the following: death; days away from work; restricted work or transfer to another job; medical treatment beyond first aid; loss of consciousness; or diagnosis of a significant injury/illness by a physician or other licensed health care professional are required to be included.
The new rule includes new definitions of medical treatment, first aid and restricted work to simplify recording decisions.
A significant degree of aggravation is required before a preexisting injury or illness is considered work-related. The new rule adds further exceptions to the definition of work-related and clarifies the recording of "light duty" or restricted work cases. OSHA is requiring employers to record cases when the employee is restricted from his or her "routine" job functions. The new rule addresses the issue that employers must record all needlestick and sharps injuries involving contamination by another person’s blood or other potentially infectious material. There are separate provisions describing how to record cases involving the work-related transmission of tuberculosis.
Employers are going to be required to count calendar days rather than workdays. The term lost workdays has been eliminated and the new rule requires recording of days away from work or days restricted or days transferred to another job. Employers must establish a specific procedure for employees to report injuries and illnesses. The annual summary must be certified by a company executive and posted for three months instead of one.

OSHA’s Web site ( highlights key provisions and major changes of the new recordkeeping rule.
Debra Redell is president of Construction & Industrial Safety Consulting Services, based in Racine

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