RECORDKEEPING RULES TO GO INTO EFFECT ON JANUARY 1, 2002
OSHA's new recordkeeping rules were issued on the last day
of the Clinton administration. However , the Bush administration
put a hold on those rules pending further review. On June
29, 2001, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced that
the new rules on recordkeeping would go into effect as originallly
scheduled on January 1, 2002, with a few minor exceptions.
same time that OSHA announced that its new rules would go
into effect, it also announced that the rules would be modified
in two respects, at least temporarily. OSHA will seek comments
on two proposed modifications to the recordkeeping rules.
First, OSHA will propose that new criteria for recording work-related
hearing loss not be implemented for one year pending further
investigation into the appropriate level of hearing loss which
should be recorded. Second, OSHA will propose to delay for
one year the new rules' definition of "musculoskeletal
disorder," or MSD, and a requirement that employers must
check the MSD column on the new OSHA log. This delay is intended
to allow OSHA to address the proper definition of MSD in future
regulation of ergonomics.
Rules, New Format
The rules will take effect on January 1, 2002. The rules,
which will be codified at 29 CFR Part 1904, are far lengthier
and more detailed than the existing recordkeeping rules. These
rules are written in a question and answer format. They are
designed to be self-contained; in other words, employers should
no longer be required to research OSHA interpretive letters
or review the Bureau of Labor Statisics (BLS) guidelines for
recordkeeping. This is one reason why the new rules are so
lengthy. Accompanying the rules are new forms employers will
be required to use. These forms will replace the OSHA 200
Log and the OSHA Form 101.
"Designated Felon" Provision
Although all aspects of the new rules will affect a company's
recordkeeping procedures, the new rules' "designated
felon" provision merits special focus. This provision
requires a company executive to certify the accuracy of the
annual summary of injuries and illnesses. The purpose of the
provision is to encourage accurate recordkeeping by putting
a high-ranking corporate official at personal risk of criminal
prosecution if the summary is inaccurate. Regulated companies
will need to revise their procedures to account for this provision
and these companies should institute specific procedures to
protect the certifying corporate official.
Recordkeeping Issues Addressed
In many respects, the rules simply codify existing recordkeeping
interpretations. Among other issues explicitly addressed by
the new rules are:
needle sticks/sharps injury cases involving exposure to
blood or other potentially infectious materials (as covered
on the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard) are now recordable.
A special category has been created for these incidents.
loss cases are now recordable once there is a 10 decibel
shift. (This change will not go into effect because OSHA
is seeking further comments on the subject.)
has designated a category of "privacy concern cases"
for which employers are required to exclude the employee's
name on the OSHA forms. Employers will be required to maintain
a separate and confidential list of names of employees involved
in such privacy concern cases.
annual summary of injuries and illnesses must be posted
in the workplace for three (3) months (February, March,
and April), as opposed to the current one (1) month requirement.
annual summary must be certified by a "company executive."
A company executive is an owner of the company, an officer,
the highest ranking company official at the establishment
or that official's immediate supervisor. The company executive
must certify that "he or she has examined the OSHA
300 Log and that he or she reasonably believes, based on
his or her knowledge of the process by which information
was recorded, that the annual summary is correct and complete."
away" and "days restricted or transferred"
will be counted on a calendar basis rather than scheduled
workdays. In other words, if an employee is injured and
is unable to work, the "days away" count begins
on the date following the injury, even if the employee was
not scheduled to work on that date.
are only required to count days away or days restricted
or transferred up to a maximum of 180 days.
injuries and illnesses experienced by any employee (labor,
executive, hourly, salary, part-time, seasonal or migrant)
including non-payroll employees supervised on a day-to-day
basis, must be recorded on the new OSHA 300 Log.
new rules contain a list of partially exempt industries
not required to maintain injury and illness records unless
requested to do so in writing by OSHA, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, or a state agency operating under the authority
new rules provide a list of treatments constituting "first
aid" (and, therefore, not constituting "medical
treatment") for purposes of recording. This list is
exhaustive. Accordingly, an employer need only check this
list to determine whether a certain procedure constitutes
first aid or medical treatment
states that an injury or illness occurring "while the
employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the
home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the
performance of the work rather than to the general home
environment or setting" is recordable.
new rules specifically exempt from recording requirements
certain minor illnesses such as the common cold or flu.
OSHA has promised significant outreach to the regulated community
to provide training on these new rules. In addition, OSHA
has stated its intent to provide a computer program to assist
employers in the proper recording of injuries and illnesses.
There is no word on when this program will be available.
The new recordkeeping rules are available on the OSHA web
To receive an executive summary of the ergonomic standards,
Contact Us to request a copy
of this documentation from Ergonomic Specialties, Ltd. at
no cost to you.
are not done hearing about ergonomics. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics, in its 1999 annual survey of occupational injuries
and illnesses, reported that ergonomic injuries have decreased.
This supports one argument against the old ergonomics standard:
industry is improving ergonomic safety without the coercion
of a federal standard. Nevertheless, the new Labor Secretary
has acknowledged that ergonomics is a "real" problem
requiring some level of (unspecified) action.
the legislative front, Democratic Senator John Breaux has
gained some influential Republican co-sponsors for his bill
which would require OSHA to issue a new, modified ergonomics
standard within two years. Republican Senators Arlen Spector
and Ted Stevens are now co-sponsors of that measure.
STANDARDS TO PREVENT 300,000 INJURIES;
SAVE $9 BILLION A YEAR
An average of 300,000 workers can be spared from painful, potentially disabling,
injuries, and $9 billion can be saved each year. Work-related musculoskeletal
disorders such as back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome are the most prevelant,
most expensive and most preventable workplace injuries in the country. Real people
are suffering real injuries that can disable their bodies and destroy their lives.
The good news is that real solutions are available.
OSHA ergonomics program standard issued on November 14,
2000 relies on a practical, flexible approach that reflects
industry best practices and focuses on jobs where problems
are severe and solutions well understood. It would require
general industry employers to address ergonomics--the fit
between the worker and work--for manual handling or manufacturing
production jobs. Employers also would need to fix other
jobs where employees experience work-related musculoskeletal
About one-third of general industry worksites -- 1.9 million sites-would be affected
and more than 27 million workers would be protected by the standard. Implementing
these measures would generate average savings of $9 billion annually in workers'
compensation and other direct costs alone. Fewer than 30 percent of general industry
employers have effective ergonomics programs in place today.
This standard includes some unique provisions to expand flexibility for employers
because one size doesn't fit all. We've given employers a Quick Fix option and
included a grandfather clause -- both designed to limit what employers need to
do while effectively protecting workers. Three-quarters of general industry employers
would not need to do anything until a documented, work-related injury actually
year 1.8 million U.S. workers experience work-related musculoskeletal
disorders, such as injuries from overexertion or repetitive
motion. About one-third of these injuries -- 600,000 --
are serious enough to require time off work. Work-related
musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs account for one-third
of all workers' compensation costs each year because these
injuries can require a lengthy recovery time.
the OSHA standards, about 1.6 million employers would need
to implement a basic ergonomics program -- assigning someone
to be responsible for ergonomics; providing information
to employees on the risk of injuries, signs and symptoms
to watch for and the importance of reporting problems early;
and setting up a system for employees to report signs and
symptoms. Full programs would be required only if one or
more work-related MSDs actually occurred. The proposal
also offers a "Quick Fix" alternative to setting
up a full ergonomics program. Correct a hazard within 90
days, check to see that the fix works and no further action
is necessary. In addition, a "grandfather" clause
gives credit to firms that already have effective ergonomics
programs in place and are working to correct hazards.
The OSHA standard identifies six elements for a full ergonomics program: management
leadership and employee participation, hazard information and reporting, job
hazard analysis and control, training, MSD management and program evaluation.
OSHA intends that ergonomics programs be job-based, ie., cover just the specific
job where the risk of developing an MSD exists and jobs like it that expose other
workers to the same hazard. Ergonomics programs need not cover all the jobs at
the work place.
standard would require that workers who experience covered
musculoskeletal disorders receive a prompt response, evaluation
of their injury and follow-up by a health care professional,
if necessary. Workers who need time off the job to recover
from the injury could get 90 percent of pay and 100 percent
of benefits -- to limit economic loss as a result of their
injuries. Workers on light duty would receive full pay
and benefits. This provision is designed to encourage early
reporting to catch problems before they result in injuries.
Strong evidence shows that employees are reluctant to report
symptoms if doing so might cause them to miss work and
reduce their paycheck.
receive an executive summary of the ergonomic standards, Contact
Us to request a copy of this documentation from Ergonomic
Specialties, Ltd. at no cost to you.