The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued final regulations that permit the agency to post employer injury and illness data online, and also prohibit employers from discouraging workers' reporting of on-the-job injuries. The new rules take effect on August 10, 2016. Employers subject to OSHA regulation should begin now to prepare for the impact of the rules, which require electronic submission of injury and illness from some employers beginning next year.

Under the regulations, by July 1, 2017, employers with 250 or more employees, and employers with at least 20 employees in select industries (including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, utilities, agriculture, grocery and department stores, and some health care providers) must electronically submit to OSHA data from their 2016 Form 300A. OSHA will then post some of this data on its website. These employer submissions must be made annually. In later years, larger businesses will also be required to submit data from their Forms 300 and 301. Starting in 2019, the yearly submissions must be completed by March 2.

The new rules also require employers to inform workers of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation. The rules also make explicit the law's requirement that the procedure for reporting such injuries/illnesses be reasonable, and not deter or discourage such reporting. These provisions take effect in August of this year.

It remains to be seen if any industry groups or other affected parties will challenge OSHA's authority to issue the new rules. It is also unclear how OSHA will handle the tremendous amount of data it will receive once the rules take effect. Nevertheless, employers subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Act should take steps now to prepare. They should first ensure that their reporting and non-retaliation policies comply with the rules. Second, they should make certain that their OSHA-mandated records are adequately maintained so that, come July, they are prepared to submit full and accurate records.

Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group routinely assists employers in navigating OSHA's recordkeeping and other requirements.


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