Who Must Keep OSHA Records
Most employers are required to maintain injury and illness records on an ongoing basis for OSHA compliance. There are two major exceptions:
- Size: If your company had 10 or fewer employees at all times during the last calendar year, you do not need to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) informs you in writing that you must do so. When totaling up the number of employees, count the number of employees in the company as a whole, not at each individual worksite.
- Industry: If your company is classified in one of the low-hazard industries listed in the NAICS Codes table at osha.gov, you do not need to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless OSHA, the BLS, or a state agency operating under the authority of OSHA or the BLS asks you to. This exemption applies to individual business establishments. For example, if you have several business establishments engaged in different activities, some of your company’s establishments may be required to keep records while others may be exempt.
Regardless of recordkeeping status due to company size or industry, you must report to OSHA any workplace incident that results in a fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. For this reason, the above exceptions are considered “partial exemptions.”
Beyond these partial exemptions, all other covered employers must use the OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, to record incidents throughout the year. You’re required to keep a separate OSHA Log – along with OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses -- for each physical location that is expected to be in operation for one year or longer.
OSHA Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report, is filled out with the details of each recordable work-related injury or illness. (You should have a completed form for every incident entered on the OSHA Log.) Together, these forms help the employer and OSHA determine the types and severity of work-related incidents.
As far as timing, you must enter each recordable injury or illness on the OSHA 300 Log and 301 Incident Report within seven calendar days of receiving information. You’ll need to save the OSHA 300 Log, the 300A Annual Summary and 301 Incident Reports for five years following the end of the calendar year the records cover.
If you discover recordable injuries and illnesses well after they happened, or if there have been recordable changes, update your stored OSHA 300 Logs to include the new information. If the description or outcome of a case changes, simply remove or cross out the original entry and input the new information. You do not, however, have to update the 300A Annual Summary or 301 Incident Report for a new or changed log entry.
Remember, too, that you must post the 300A Annual Summary in a conspicuous place by February 1 through April 30 to indicate the number of recordable cases from the previous year.
Providing Records to Employees and/or the Government
Your employees, former employees, their personal representatives (like a lawyer), and their authorized employee representatives (like collective bargaining agents) have the right to access OSHA injury and illness records.
When one of these people asks for copies of your current or stored OSHA 300 Log(s) for a particular establishment, you must provide it by the end of the next business day. Keep in mind that while you may not remove any information from the log, you should avoid using employee names with certain privacy cases. If requested, you must also give that person a copy of the 301 Incident Report by the end of the next business day.
Longer turnaround with government requests
When an authorized government representative asks for your OSHA records, you must provide copies of them within four business hours. Authorized people include a representative of the Secretary of Labor conducting an inspection or investigation under the Act; a representative of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) conducting an investigation; or a representative of a state agency responsible for administering a state plan.
If you receive OSHA’s annual survey form, you must fill it out by the date stated or within 30 days, whichever is later, and send it to OSHA or OSHA’s designee, as stated on the survey form. Note: If asked, you must keep records and submit a survey at the end of the year even if you are normally exempt from OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping.
Lastly, If you receive a Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Form from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), or a BLS designee, you must promptly complete the form and return it according to the instructions on the survey form. Again, even if you are normally exempt from keeping records, you must do so if asked by the BLS.
Providing records to others
If you wish to provide access to OSHA Forms 300 and 301 to people other than government representatives, employees, former employees or authorized representatives, you must remove or hide the employees’ names and other personally identifying information, except for the following cases:
- To an auditor or consultant hired by you to evaluate your safety and health program
- To the extent necessary for processing a claim for workers’ compensation or other insurance benefit
- To a public health authority or law enforcement agency for uses and disclosures for which consent, an authorization, or opportunity to agree or object is not required under Department of Health and Human Services Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information
Display the OSHA “It’s the Law” Poster
Even if you’re exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirement, you still must display the federal “It’s the Law” Job Safety and Health poster. This poster explains to employees that they are entitled to a workplace free from recognized hazards, with guidance on how to report workplace hazards.
OSHA released a new version of the “It’s the Law” poster in May 2015. Like before, the 2015 version of the poster informs workers of their right to request an OSHA inspection and obtain medical records, along with the employer’s obligation to provide a workplace free from hazards. The list of employee rights and employer responsibilities has been expanded, however, to cover certain training and injury reporting requirements.
Although the updated posting is not a requirement (the previous version is still compliant), many employers are choosing to display it because it contains OSHA information they want to share with their workforce.
The OSHA poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees, such as employee break rooms, entrance areas, lounges and near time clock stations.
If you’re in a state that operates OSHA-approved plans, you must also post the state’s equivalent poster. This applies to the following 22 states or territories:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina