What's New with Safety in 2017?
Here are some insights from Safety Consultant Ron Humphreys
OSHA’s new Electronic Injury/Illness reporting regulation has generated a good amount of confusion -- and even anger -- as it extends to Anti-Retaliation Protection for workers reporting on-the-job injury. The new rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data online in addition to recording incidents on the already required OSHA Injury and Illness forms. OSHA believes analysis of this data will help enforce compliance more efficiently. Additionally some of the data will be posted to the OSHA website with the belief that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.
Anti-retaliation Protections prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness. Employers are required to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation, which can be satisfied by posting the already-required OSHA workplace poster. It also clarifies that an employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting; and incorporates the existing statutory prohibition on retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. These provisions went into effect December 1, 2016.
Changes in Reporting Rules
Even with these new rules in place, what I often find among employers is lack of preparation for an OSHA inspection or investigation. Investigations have become more prominent due to the reporting rules that went into effect in 2015 requiring employers to report any incident requiring hospitalization of a single employee, any amputation, or loss of an eye. Previously the rule required an employer to submit an injury report if three or more employees were hospitalized, or an amputation injury only if it occurred from a mechanical power press. The uptick in reporting often results in a visit or a letter from OSHA requiring investigation and corrective action. This has also generated more citations/fines for employers.