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Report: OSHA Missing Records from 200,000 Companies

Monday, March 19, 2018

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A recent investigation by Bloomberg Environment has revealed that about 200,000 worksites have failed to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new electronic record-keeping rule.

According to records obtained by Bloomberg, the agency was expecting about 350,000 companies to submit their 2016 records by the Dec. 31, 2017, deadline and have only received submissions from 153,653.

Ed Brown, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A recent investigation by Bloomberg Environment has revealed that about 200,000 worksites have failed to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new electronic record-keeping rule.

OSHA’s director of enforcement, Tom Galassi, issued a memo at the end of February explaining how the agency plans to handle the lack of participation. The memo states:

  • If the employer failed to submit, but immediately abates during the inspection by providing a paper copy of the records, an Other Than Serious citation will be issued with no penalty;
  • If the employer failed to submit its 2016 data but shows it has already submitted its 2017 data, an Other Than Serious citation will be issued with no penalty; or
  • If the employer does not produce any records, an Other Than Serious citation will be issued with the appropriate penalty.

The Cause

In addition to the low number of records expected, OSHA also received 60,922 reports that were turned in by workplaces that didn’t need to file.

Attorneys representing employers say that several factors have gone into the confusion, which boils down to the fact that the rule itself just isn’t black and white.

Officials estimate that reasons for the low compliance rate could include:

  • Employers mistakenly concluded that they were exempt from filing;
  • Employers thought that the deadline would be delayed again, since it had been several times;
  • Employers withheld their summaries on purpose because they didn’t want to risk an inspection; or
  • Employers didn’t agree with the rule in the first place and just refused to file.

The Rule & Enforcement

The rule, first announced in May 2016, requires establishments with 250 or more employees in OSHA-covered worksites to submit information from their 2016 Form 300A, and establishments with 20-249 employees in certain “high-risk” industries—such as construction—must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A.

© iStock.com / patrickbanks

In addition to the low number of records expected, OSHA also received 60,922 reports that were turned in by workplaces that didn’t need to file.

OSHA has until June 15 to inspect and issue these citations, as they can only cite for a rule violation if it has been violated within six months of an inspection.

OSHA will likely not fine all 200,000 companies (the maximum penalty is $12,934) and former agency administrator David Michaels says that doesn’t look good.

“OSHA is making a serious mistake,” Michaels said. “By not making meaningful efforts to enforce this legal requirement, OSHA is encouraging law-breaking employers, most likely those with the highest injury rates, to ignore OSHA’s regulation.”

Employers’ 2017 reports are due on July 1 of this year.

   

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

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