In 2012, OSHA expanded its focus and increased the number of citations involving its recordkeeping standard.
All employers maintaining the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 300 Logs for workplace injuries and illnesses pursuant to OSHA’s recordkeeping standard must post their 2012 annual summary by Feb. 1. Employers must utilize the annual summary form (form 300A) when complying with the posting requirements. The form is available for downloading from the OSHA website.
Here are some additional details that are frequently misunderstood or overlooked and which can cause trouble:
OSHA’s recordkeeping standard requires a certification of the 300A logs by a company executive. OSHA has identified four specific management officials who it considers to be a “company executive” for purposes of certifying the 300A Logs. These individual are: 1) an owner of the company; 2) an officer of the corporation; 3) the highest-ranking company official working at the establishment; or 4) the immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking company official working at the establishment. This official must certify that he or she has reviewed the related records and reasonably believes, based on knowledge of the process underlying the development of the data, that the posted summary is accurate and complete.
OSHA describes this requirement as imposing “senior management accountability” for the integrity and accuracy of the reported date. HR managers or safety directors normally cannot sign the OSHA 300A summary unless they are an officer of the company.
The annual summary provision requires employers to include a calculation of the annual average number of employees covered by the log and the total hours worked by all covered employees. The purpose of this requirement is to help employers compare the relative frequency of significant occupational injuries and illnesses at their workplace as compared to other establishments.
The posting period is for three months, from Feb. 1 to April 30. The 300A summary must be posted in each establishment in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted. Copies of the 300A summary should be provided to any employee who may not see the posted summary because they do not report to a fixed location on a regular basis.
Where the establishment has had no recordable injuries or illnesses, the establishment must still post the 300A summary with zeros in the appropriate lines and certified by a company executive.
Before the annual summary is prepared, the recordkeeping rule imposes an express duty on the employer to review the Log (form 300) to verify that entries are complete and accurate. Employers must review the records as “extensively as necessary” to ensure their accuracy.
OSHA has announced that in 2013, the agency will continue to focus on recordkeeping in its various National Emphasis Programs and enforcement focuses and, thus, employers should take time to review the forms for technical errors as well as to review accident reports and other materials and ensure that all recordable incidents have been included. An employer has a duty to update and maintain records for five years plus the current year and provide them for inspection by OSHA investigators.
Finally, employers are under a duty to ensure that the posted annual summary is not altered, defaced or obscured during the entire posting period.
Edwin G. Foulke Jr. is co-chair of Fisher & Phillips’ workplace safety and catastrophe management practice group. He can be reached at email@example.com or 404-240-4273.
This alert is intended for general information and should not be taken as specific legal advice.
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