This OSHA Updates Issue includes information on the proposed delay to electronic reporting rules, the withdrawal of the union walkaround policy, the delay of proposed standards, and a citation concerning a contractor being vacated.


OSHA Proposes Delay to Electronic Reporting Rule

Last year, OSHA issued a final rule that requires certain employers to electronically submit data from their injury and illness records so they can be posted on the agency’s website. The rule initially required employers to submit this data by July 1, 2017. However, OSHA recently stated that it will not be ready to receive electronic workplace injury and illness reports by the established deadline. The agency has proposed a new compliance date of Dec. 1, 2017.

OSHA believes that the new rule will encourage employers and researchers to find new and innovative ways to prevent injuries and illnesses at workplaces. However, critics of the rule believe that it will unfairly damage the reputations of businesses by making details of workplace injuries and illnesses available to the public.

Because the agency has not revoked the electronic reporting rule yet, employers affected by the rule should continue to record and report workplace injuries as required by law. The rule does not change an employer’s requirements to complete and retain regular injury and illness records. Still, some employers will have additional obligations. Here are the requirements for the rule:

  • Establishments with 250 or more employees that are required to keep injury and illness records must electronically submit the following OSHA forms:
    • Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300)
    • Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A)
    • Injury and Illnesses Incident Report (OSHA Form 301)
  • Establishments with 20 to 249 employees that work in industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A.

For more information on the delay to OSHA’s electronic reporting rule, call us at (205) 262-2700.


OSHA Withdraws Union Walkaround Policy

OSHA has withdrawn a policy that allowed union officials to participate in inspections at nonunionized workplaces. The agency recently referred to the policy as unnecessary in a memorandum to its regional administrators.

The policy was originally included in OSHA’s 2013 “Walkaround Letter of Interpretation.” Many employers viewed the policy as an attempt by the Obama administration to support and expand union representation to nonunion workplaces. Other critics of the letter believed that it allowed individuals who were not a representative of employees to participate in walkaround inspections.

The walkaround policy was set without engaging in a formal rule-making process. Therefore, the procedure to withdraw it was quick and informal. Many experts also believe that the Drumpf administration’s focus on eliminating easily reversible policies influenced the withdrawal.

OSHA compliance officers may still attempt to include third-party outsiders in a walkaround if there is good cause. One example of good cause would be if the compliance officer lacked technical or language expertise necessary to perform the inspection. Such cases are rare, however, as OSHA usually provides the needed expertise from within the agency.


Proposed OSHA Standards Stalled Under Drumpf Administration

OSHA introduced a number of proposed standards just before the inauguration of President Donald Drumpf. However, the Drumpf administration’s focus on deregulation has put many of these standards on hold. Additionally, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has yet to publish its Unified Agenda. This semiannual publication outlines the upcoming regulatory plans for federal agencies.

Several proposed changes are currently in OSHA’s pre-rule stage, including the following:

  • An emergency responder preparedness program
  • Revisions to OSHA’s process safety management program
  • A new federal standard to protect health care and social assistance workers from workplace violence

Supporters of the Drumpf administration’s emphasis on deregulation believe that businesses will benefit by the reduced compliance responsibilities. However, opponents argue that public protections may now come second to profit.


OSHA Citation Against Contractor Vacated

An administrative judge for OSHA recently vacated a “willful” violation against Hensel Phelps Construction, a general contractor.

An OSHA inspection of a Hensel Phelps worksite in Texas originally found that the company had not provided a subcontractor’s employees with a system to guard against cave-ins. However, OSHA vacated the citation after a judge found that OSHA regulations protect an employer’s own employees. Also, in this case the regulations did not apply to the subcontractor’s employees who were not protected from cave-in hazards.

This information is abstracted from Zywave’s “OSHA Cornerstones: Summer 2017” article.© 2017 Zywave, Inc. This publication is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as compliance or legal advice.