What Do the New OSHA Rules Mean for My Business?

While we can all agree that injury on the job is something that we all hope to avoid, things sometimes happen. In the terrible case of such injury, companies are required to keep records and, in some cases, report the issue to OSHA. But In case you haven´t heard, starting January 1, 2017, OSHA rules will now be requiring some employers to start reporting their workplace injuries electronically via a secure website managed by them. In addition to this rule, there are a couple of additional aspects that should be noted.

Who will be affected by these new OSHA rules?

First, nothing has changed in terms of what employers are required to report. The major difference of this new rule is that all employers who have more than 250 employees will be required to report their serious injuries and illnesses online. In certain higher-risk industries, companies with 20 or more employees will be required to report in the same way. Follow this hyperlink to see if your business is considered high risk. It won’t be required, however, for those injuries that can be handled with a simple first aid kit.

The online system gives you three options. The first option is to use their web form, which will allow you to enter the data one by one. This is perhaps the ideal choice for those who enjoy a more manual and time-intensive process. A second, easier option, is for those who already keep their records via another software solution that allows easy exporting of data. You will be allowed to upload your data via a CSV (Excel) file. The last option is via an API (application program interface), which allows the most flexibility for those companies with homegrown app systems.

Another important bit of information to keep in mind is that the reporting should actually start on July 1st, 2017 for the previous year (2016) for companies that are required to report in this new way.

What do these new requirements mean for my business?

The point of these new requirements is to make workplaces safer based on the idea that transparency will encourage employers to keep their employees safe. Some of the information that is uploaded to OSHA could, in fact, be published on their website, which could encourage some employees to think twice about safety. One thing to keep in mind is that along with these new OSHA rules, they have tightened up rules about retaliation against employees who report injuries.

In the short term, the new OSHA rules mean just one additional step for something that you are already required to do. If you have software that handles the record keeping of such things, then it shouldn’t require much time at all. In the longer term, the hope is that OSHA’s belief on the matter, the idea that transparency equals a safer work environment, will benefit the employee and the employer overall.

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