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OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule Saga Finally Nears Conclusion

LHSFNA Management
David F. Rampone

Federal OSHA’s on-again, off-again recordkeeping rule appears set to finally go into effect again – seven years after it first debuted in 2016. The rule was largely rolled back in 2019 during the Trump administration and it wasn’t until July of 2022 that federal OSHA proposed re-establishing it. Now, OSHA has reissued its final electronic recordkeeping and reporting rule, which will take effect in January of 2024.

“This rule is going to give unions, responsible contractors and safety and health advocates new ways to understand the factors driving injuries on jobsites,” said LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman David F. Rampone. “With this data becoming available online, it’s also going to encourage contractors with poor safety records to take the necessary steps to improve.”

Which Employers Are Covered by the Rule?

Federal OSHA’s updated recordkeeping rule has the following requirements:

  • Employers in high-hazard industries (including construction) with 100 or more workers will have to submit their Forms 300, 301 and 300A to OSHA electronically by March 2nd each year. Currently, those employers are only required to submit their 300A.
  • Employers in high-hazard industries with 20 or more workers will continue to submit only their Form 300A.
  • Employers with 250 or more workers in any industry are required to submit their Form 300A to OSHA annually.

[Note: Form 300A covers summary data, while Forms 300 and 301 include a more detailed log of workplace injuries and illnesses.]

According to OSHA, the main purpose of the rule is to improve the collection and tracking of workplace illness and injury data. This rule will provide the agency with more detailed information on millions of recordable injuries each year. This will allow federal OSHA to better analyze how workers are being injured on the job and use that information to identify employers or industries with abnormally high injury and illness rates.

For an agency with a chronic shortage of inspectors due to budget constraints, being able to better target its compliance and enforcement efforts where they are needed most could literally save workers’ lives.

Impact on the Construction Industry

According to 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 60 percent of construction firms have 50 or fewer workers, and another 14 percent have fewer than 100. That means many employers across the industry will be exempt from this rule and can continue to only make their Forms 300 and 301 data available if OSHA requests it, such as during a jobsite inspection.

For larger construction employers, the bigger impact from this recordkeeping rule will be federal OSHA’s plan to make companies’ aggregated injury and illness data publicly available online. This pulling back the curtain on companies’ safety and health records has been the primary objection from employers and employer associations since the rule was first issued in 2016.

Making safety and health data publicly available should benefit unions, researchers, public health advocates and other groups seeking to make the construction industry safer. It should also give large construction employers a benchmark to compare themselves to and give companies that put worker safety and health at the forefront a way to tout their safe work environment. On the other hand, construction contractors with poor safety records will soon risk seeing their name online on a list of the most dangerous jobsites.

Once it’s available online, this information could quickly become a valuable tool for LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, Organizing Funds, LECET Funds and other LIUNA affiliates in their efforts to organize workers and show the safety difference between many union and non-union projects.

[Nick Fox]

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