Keeping Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injury and illness rates down may be more important than some employers realize. High OSHA rates can lead to loss of contracts, being pre-screened out of bids, and a higher chance of having OSHA on site for an enforcement visit. OSHA also uses Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to compare individual employer rates to those of their peer group to build targeted visit lists and as a measuring stick during enforcement visits.
A previous article in this series addressed keeping OSHA rates down by ensuring that 300 logs do not contain non-recordable injuries. This article seeks to help employers keep rates down by addressing typical problematic areas related to reporting delays, medical care, return to work, and litigation prevention.
How to Calculate OSHA Case Rates and Day Rates
The typical injury and illness rates monitored by OSHA include case rates such as:
- Recordable case rate (RCR)—also called total recordable case rate (TRCR) or total recordable incident rate (TRIR)
- Days away, restricted, or transferred rate (DART)
- Lost time case rate (LTCR)
- Days away case rate (DACR)
The basic equation for these rates is:
Number of cases x 200,000
Case Rate TRIR or DART = ____________________________________
Number of hours worked
Some safety rating groups will use day rates as well as case rates to prescreen companies bidding for jobs. Using data on logs and 300A forms, calculate the day rate by using the sum of days of lost time or days of job transfer instead of the count of cases with lost days or job transfer.
Days lost or days of restricted duty x 200,000
Day Rate = ___________________________________________
Number of hours worked
To keep all these rates low, employers should, of course, seek to prevent injuries and keep non-OSHA recordable cases off the logs. In addition, they should also actively monitor and manage cases to minimize the number of cases that end up triggering recordability and accumulating unnecessary days away from work or job transfer (modified duty) days.
Read Our Series of Articles on OSHA 300 Logs:
Six Steps to Reduce OSHA Injury and Illness Rates
The methods discussed below are commonly used as workers’ compensation controls, but they are also central to lowering OSHA rates.
1. Determining Recordability
The first and most important question is whether the injury or illness in question is work-related. If it is not work-related, the case is not recordable and those keeping the log can simply stop here. We cover more about determining if the injury or illness is work-related in another article in this series.
2. Ensuring Prompt Return to Work and Normal Duties
Returning employees to work and normal duties as quickly as possible after an injury helps decrease the number of cases and days that accumulate toward the rates outlined above. In a limited number of cases, the only thing that makes a case OSHA recordable can be the loss of days itself. Some employers unintentionally make a case recordable and accumulate days because they take an employee off work or assign them modified duty when the medical professional treating them does not prescribe it. OSHA considers that case and those days as recordable.
To keep rates legitimately low, have an expedited process to ensure the employee is brought back to work and returned to their regular job duties as quickly as possible. Work with medical providers who are familiar with your company and your employees’ roles to streamline this process:
- Ensure medical providers know you offer modified duty
- Send an accurate job description to the clinic with the employee
- Get to know the occupational medical providers in your area
- Provide them with job descriptions ahead of time
- Have them visit your sites or workplace
3. Using Nurse Triage and First Aid When Possible
Cases that do not result in medical treatment are non-recordable, barring any other triggers. For injuries and illnesses that are not severe, consider using nurse triage and or first aid treatment to help prevent unnecessary trips to a medical provider—this can potentially keep some cases off your logs. Remember that OSHA has a prescriptive list of first aid treatments, and any treatment that falls outside of that list is considered medical treatment. It’s also important to remember that if treatments are on that list but are administered by a medical doctor or other medical professional, it’s still counted as first aid. Knowing what counts as first aid versus medical treatment will help you ensure you don’t over-record (or under-record). Getting your employees the most appropriate and best care after an injury is the first priority. Having a nurse triage service help you make that call and help you know when first aid treatment is best is a solid strategy. For more information on this topic, see our article, OSHA 300 Logs: How to Determine Whether to Record an Injury or Illness.
4. Reporting Claims Quickly
While it may sound counterintuitive, if first aid is not appropriate, reporting claims quickly and getting an adjuster involved is another way to help shorten case length, limit days lost, decrease days of modified duty, and expedite good medical outcomes. Delaying reporting and access to medical care tends to lengthen off-work and modified duty periods in the long run.
|Workers’ compensation case acceptance and payment are not the same as OSHA recordability decision-making. Each has its own criteria, so ensure you are using OSHA’s criteria for recordkeeping rather than assuming a WC case acceptance merits automatic OSHA reporting.|
5. Managing the Case Closely
While getting an adjuster involved is helpful, the employer may need to actively communicate with the employee and monitor adjuster activity to drive the best outcomes. If the employee is represented by an attorney, the employer may not be able to contact them. If the injured employee is not represented, weekly calls often help head problems off and help the employee to feel connected to the employer. (Litigation prevention is addressed below.)
Adjuster caseloads have increased dramatically over the last few years, and the industry is seeing a challenge getting new candidates. This tends to lead to less time being spent on each individual case. Having an employer actively monitoring cases and communicating with both the adjuster and the employee helps ensure those cases get the dedicated time they need to bring about better outcomes.
6. Preventing Litigation
Litigation clearly drives both lost time and modified duty day numbers up dramatically, not to mention the overall cost of a claim. The number one reason employees end up going to an attorney when they may not otherwise have done so is feeling disconnected from their employer. They often express concern over the future of their job situation.
While this can result from an adjuster not promptly paying on a claim, it can also stem from a lack of communication from the employer. Weekly calls from an internal advocate such as their own supervisor or a dedicated human resources advocate can help assuage those fears. Some employers have used get-well cards and even flower programs to help ensure employees feel cared for to prevent this problem from arising. These efforts also tend to drive down lost day counts secondary to the increased communication around the case and the appropriate advancement of restrictions over time.
Implementation Will Vary by Company
The strategies above should help lower OSHA rates and claims costs. Each strategy can be different for different employers, and implementation is not always easy. If you need additional diagnostic or program development assistance, contact Stephen Glazier or your Woodruff Sawyer account team for assistance.
Related Blog Posts
This article will concentrate on three steps that can help ensure only recordable cases end up on the 300 log.
For companies with more than 10 employees, OSHA requires you to complete Form 300 to record work-related illnesses and injuries, except in the case of “partially exempt” locations.