Extra Edition / Business Management

Following Injuries, Employers Must Remember to Fill Out the Paperwork

April 21, 2008
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Richard D. Alaniz

On-the-job injuries can be stressful for everyone who was involved or witnessed an accident. But no matter how upsetting or time-consuming the situation, employers must remember to fill out the paperwork afterwards for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Where a state has taken over jurisdiction for workplace safety, such as under Cal/OSHA, the obligations are basically the same.

OSHA requires the completion of three different forms relating to injuries and illnesses over the course of a year. Two of these must be filled out promptly after a work-related accident or illness, and one must be completed on an annual basis. Employers should already have filled out the annual form for 2007 by now and have it displayed onsite. This form, known as OSHA Form 300A, must be posted between Feb. 1 and April 30.

OSHA requires companies to report injuries and illnesses that result in death, loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work activity or job transfer, or medical treatment beyond first aid. Injuries and illnesses that OSHA considers “significant” and must be reported include work-related cases of cancer, chronic irreversible disease, bone fractures, and punctured eardrums. There are several other types of injuries and illnesses that require immediate reporting as well, such as needlesticks, confirmed cases of tuberculosis, and hearing loss. If an employer is not sure whether an accident qualifies as a so-called “recordable incident,” he or she should check the OSHA website at www.osha.gov or contact the regional office or state plan office.

“The OSHA 300 logs provide employers and employees a broad view of where injuries and illnesses are occurring at their worksites,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. in a statement. “Identifying and posting injury and illness information provides employers and employees with useful information to help ensure a more safe and healthful workplace.”

Besides Form 300A, employers must also complete Forms 300 and 301 after a worker becomes sick or is hurt on the job.

FORM 300

Form 300 is a log of work-related injuries and illnesses, and employers must keep one at every site. On this form, employers must log all work-related illnesses and injuries, including the date and type of injury or illness, employee’s name and job title, and where the event occurred. Throughout the course of an illness or injury, employers must update this log to indicate if the situation became more serious than originally thought, and to track how many days off affected employees needed.

FORM 300A

Companies must complete this “Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses” at the beginning of every year and display it from the beginning of February to the end of April. It consists of three parts:

Number of Cases

Employers must include the total number of deaths, the total number of cases with days away from work, the total number of cases with job transfer or restriction, and the total number of other recordable cases;

Number of Days

Employers must calculate the total number of days away from work and the total number of cases with job transfer or restriction; and

Injury and Illness Types

This includes the total number of injuries, skin disorders, respiratory conditions, poisonings, hearing loss, and all other injuries.

In order to figure the rate of injuries and illnesses, companies must provide information about its average number of employees and the total hours that they worked during the previous year. If there have been no injuries or illnesses, companies still must complete the form with a “zero” on the total line and a company executive must sign it. The form must then be posted in a common area along with other employee notices.

FORM 301

Employers must complete this form, known as the Injury and Illness Report, within seven days of a work-related incident. This form requires information about the employee, the name of the doctor who treated the employee, the type of treatment the employee needed, and an explanation of what was happening before and during the incident.

Forms 300, 300A, and 301, along with explanations of how to properly complete each one, can be found on the OSHA Website at www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/new-osha300form1-1-04.pdf .

Not all companies need to fill out these forms - employers with 10 or fewer employees are generally exempt from the requirements of keeping and posting records. Certain companies in some low-hazard industries in the retail, services, finance, insurance, and real estate areas also do not have to comply.

OSHA requires recordkeeping and posting for several reasons, including:

• By keeping track of work-related injuries and illnesses, employers can better prevent them in the future;

• Using the data on injury and illness helps point out problem areas. The more information employers have, the better they can identify and correct hazardous workplace conditions;

• Accurate records can aid employers in administering safety and health programs; and

• As employees become increasingly aware of injuries, illnesses, and hazards, they will be more likely to follow safe work practices and report workplace hazards.

So-called “recordable incidents” can range from fairly minor to deadly. No matter how insignificant or traumatic the injury, if it falls under the OSHA guidelines, it must be reported and recorded properly. If there are questions about how or when to properly complete these and other required health and safety forms, employers should contact OSHA or a knowledgeable attorney.

Publication date: 04/21/2008

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