Workplace Injuries in the Digital Age: Federal OSHA and Electronic Reporting In 2020

For electronic reporting, what will be done with the data and how time consuming will it be to enter? This article elaborates on OSHA's answers and provides action items for how to accurately report to OSHA.

The OSHA electronic reporting database has now been operational for the reporting of 300A information since 2016 for federal OSHA states, and since 2017 for state plan states. Despite being utilized for a period of time now, there is still some confusion around who has to report and what data they must enter into the system.

By way of history and the data requirements, when the system was first proposed and rolled out two questions kept coming up: What will be done with the data and how time consuming will it be to enter? Both of these questions have been clarified by the current administration at OSHA.

Mobile phone and stethoscope next to computer keyboard

What Data is Actually Required for this Year's Reporting?

Originally, the intent of the system was to collect all 300 log and 301 data from employers. The current administration now only requires the data found on the 300A summary, saving employers hours of data entry work. It also helped answer the question of what would be done with the data (see next section).

Because only the data summary is now required (see previous section), the adjusted requirements alleviated concerns over personal data privacy. The names of injured employees, injury types, and other personal data found on the 300 log and, even more so on the 301 form, are no longer required or even accepted. This effectively eliminated the collection of employees' personal data in the incident tracking system.

Further, statements from the former head of OSHA suggested that employee data would be used to put peer and public pressure on employers, which would require the data to be made public. Now, OSHA has posted on its record keeping page that all 300A form data is confidential and won't be released to the public.

While the data received is not released to the public, it does further OSHA's mission to decrease worker injuries as an enforcement branch of the government. OSHA uses it to develop lists of NAICS codes and specific employers for enforcement efforts and emphasis programs.

FAQs Around OSHA's Electronic Reporting System

A few years into its use, the electronic reporting system continues to prompt some frequently asked questions:

What Has Changed About Keeping 300 Logs and 300A Summaries?

Essentially nothing. What is/is not recordable, the deadlines for updating 300 logs, posting the 300A by establishment, and what OSHA duty officers use logs for when paying a visit to an employer are all still the same. The OSHA recordkeeping page answers this question and many more.

Does This Change to the System Change Anything About Reporting Serious Injuries?

No, it does not. Regardless of the state you are in, the report page is a good place to start if you have had an employee death or serious injury (hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye). Don't delay––a fatality must be reported within eight hours and serious injuries within 24 hours. In some states, such as California, all serious injuries must be reported within eight hours.

Who Has To Enter Data Electronically?

The OSHA ITA (Incident Tracking Application) launch page has some tools that help with this and other questions. The answer to who must report electronically has multiple layers:

  • If your entire company had 10 or fewer employees at all times last year, you are partially exempt from keeping logs unless requested to do so by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in writing and partially exempt from reporting electronically.
  • If your company as a whole has more than 10 employees but all of your establishments are partially exempt, you do not have to keep 300 logs, post 300A summaries, or report electronically unless requested to do so in writing by OSHA or the BLS.
  • You could have some establishments that are exempt and some that are not. If you are uncertain which of your establishments may be partially exempt, look for the NAICS code that best fits the majority of what each establishment does and compare it to the list of partially exempt codes. OSHA updates this list periodically so you may have to check it each year. (If you don't know the NAICS that best fits each of your establishments use this tool and keywords to locate it.)
  • If you have establishments that are not partially exempt, the next step is to look at the number of employees at each establishment. If you have 250 or more employees at an establishment at any point during a year, you must electronically report for that location. If you have between 20 and 249 employees at any establishment at any point during the year AND that establishment matches a NAICS code on this list, you must report electronically.

What is the Deadline for Reporting Electronically?

You must report by March 2nd of the following year. For example, all 2020 300A data must be electronically reported by March 2nd of 2021.

How Can the Information Be Uploaded?

The ITA launch page has instructions for the use of CSV files, an API feed, and manual entry. With the limited amount of data required, OSHA suggests manual entry for companies that do not have many establishments for which they must submit data.

Do Any States NOT Require Employers to Utilize the Federal Electronic Reporting Platform?

Secondary to a trade bulletin released by OSHA in 2018, employers in all states that meet the selection criteria are now obligated to utilize the ITA system.

What if I Miss the March second Deadline?

OSHA says the ITA will continue to accept 300A information through the end of the calendar year even if you miss the deadline––you must still report the data.

If you have questions about electronic reporting or any other OSHA reporting issue, please feel free to contact your Woodruff Sawyer account team.



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