Labor & EmploymentWhat High-Hazard Employers in Texas Should Know About OSHA’s New Submission Requirements for Injury and Illness Records

03/19/2024by Thomas Fee

According to its mission statement, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exists to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” To that end, OSHA consistently updates regulations and employer requirements. A recent update addresses high-hazard industries and how and when they submit work-related injury and illness information to OSHA. For help navigating these new requirements, reach out to the experienced Texas labor and employment attorneys at Fee, Smith & Sharp LLP.

OSHA’s New Submission Requirements

Under current regulations, OSHA has required certain establishments to record particular work-related injuries and illnesses sustained by their employees on a specific OSHA Form 300 Log under regulation 29 C.F.R. Part 1904. These establishments have also had to report specific information on Incident Report Form 301 regarding work injuries requiring in-patient hospital care, those involving amputations or loss of an eye (within 24 hours), and work-related deaths (within 8 hours). Additionally, these establishments have had to complete and submit an Annual Summary using OSHA Form 300A.

Starting on January 1, 2024, OSHA established new requirements – a “Final Rule” – for businesses with 100 or more employees and categorized as “high-hazard” – those at high risk for producing work-related injuries or illnesses. These establishments must now electronically submit data from their 300 Log Form and 301 Incident Report Forms to OSHA. OSHA plans to use the information to analyze job-related injuries, illnesses, and work environments with hazardous conditions.

Confirming Submission Requirements

The Final Rule requires establishments employing 100 or more workers in “designated industries” to submit data. OSHA provides a list of those designated industries in Appendix B to Subpart E of the 1904 regulation.

Texas operates under OSHA regulations, meaning OSHA covers most private sector workers in the state. Because they fall under OSHA jurisdiction, Texas establishments in a high-hazard industry with 100 or more workers must submit data. However, state and local government workers are not covered under OSHA or an OSHA-approved State Plan, and these establishments do not fall under the OSHA recording requirement.

Submission of Form 300A Data

Though they may be exempted from submitting 300 and 301 data, establishments employing 20-249 workers in specified industries must continue to submit OSHA Form 300A data (annual summary) every year.

Further, any establishment employing 250 or more workers and not exempt from OSHA’s illness and injury record-keeping regulations must also continue to submit this information.

Reasons for OSHA’s New Electronic Data Collection

OSHA’s “Final Rule” explanation states that having “access to establishment-specific, case-specific injury and illness data” will help OSHA “identify establishments with specific hazards.” As a result, the agency will be able to communicate with these particular establishments and, through different measures, address and mitigate dangers to create safer work environments and improve workers’ health.

Further, the new structure for data collection will “increase the amount of information available for analysis,” leading to more accurate findings for job-related injuries and illnesses and more specific details regarding the industries affected by such injuries and illnesses.

The data collected will be publicly accessible, allowing employers, workers, potential workers, customers, potential customers, and others to make reasoned decisions about health and safety in the workplace overall and in specific establishments.

Ultimately, OSHA’s goal is to see this information and access it, leading to decreases in work-related injuries and illnesses.

Privacy Concerns

Data collected will be publicly available, which gives rise to privacy concerns. OSHA has put measures in place to keep the collection of “personally identifiable information” (PII) to a minimum and to protect sensitive information. For example, while establishments must submit an injured worker’s date of birth, the ITA will convert this date to an age before publicizing data. OSHA has additional automated and manual protocols in place to “scrub” PII from public data.

Establishments must be mindful of PII, working to protect it throughout the submission process and removing the following employee details from submissions:

  • Names and addresses
  • Social security numbers
  • Identification numbers or codes
  • Phone numbers or email addresses
  • Healthcare providers
  • Family information
  • Indirect identifiers, such as gender, race, ethnicity, or job position

How to Submit Required Information Electronically

Establishments required to submit electronic information can do so using OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application ITA website, and there are submission-process options. Establishments can:

  • Enter data manually using the ITA web form
  • Upload a CSV file to the ITA website
  • Transmit information using an application programming interface (API)

Data must be submitted annually and by March 2nd of the calendar year following the year covered on reporting forms. More simply stated, establishments must submit forms covering the calendar year 2023 by March 2nd of 2024. If establishments miss the date, they can still submit data late through the ITA website – until December 31 — though they may face penalties for lateness.

Implications for High-Hazard Employers

Employers may experience new administrative responsibilities and expenses under the new rule. They will need to create an account on the OSHA website, comply with deadlines, and input the required information. With the increased regulation and oversight, some establishments could find themselves facing fines or citations for non-compliance.

The public availability of injury information also puts potentially more “eyes” on an establishment and could affect an employer’s reputation – for better or worse. The information could draw potential customers or workers or turn them away.

Get the Knowledgeable Legal Guidance You Need

When employers or establishments fail to comply with OSHA regulations, they open themselves up to serious consequences. Fines, citations, and other penalties will almost certainly follow. The introduction of any new regulation typically poses challenges to employers already managing a load of administrative duties, everyday responsibilities, and the unexpected “fires” they must extinguish. It makes sense that these employers might overlook or misunderstand the fine print included in OSHA’s Final Rule – but the labor and employment lawyers at Fee, Smith & Sharp LLP can help. Reach out with your questions and concerns to get the knowledgeable guidance you need and keep your establishment on OSHA’s good side.

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