On January 1, 2015, Federal OSHA’s new reporting and recordkeeping requirements went into effect. In addition to reporting all employee fatalities within eight hours, employers will now also have to report work-related in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees, amputations, and physical eye loss within 24 hours of the incident. OSHA has also updated the list of partially exempt industries that do not have to routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records. This is great news for newly exempt industries like gasoline stations that no longer have to maintain and post OSHA 300 records.
Before celebrating, employers should know that these federal amendments may not necessarily apply in states with their own state OSHA plans. In fact, many of the 27 state OSHA plans have not yet adopted these changes. Employers in state plan states should therefore confirm the reporting and recordkeeping requirements with their State Plan Office.
As we previously reported, Federal OSHA issued a final rule at the end of 2014 to amend its reporting rule and recordkeeping requirements. Under the new reporting rule, the number of reportable events has increased -- employers have to report all workplace-related employee in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and physical eye loss within 24 hours of their occurrence. (Employers will still be required to report all work-related fatalities within eight hours of their occurrence.) As to recordkeeping, Federal OSHA updated the list of partially exempt industries that are deemed low-hazard industries and do not have to routinely keep injury/illness records. The new list now utilizes the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and can be found here. Despite being exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, these industries must still comply with the new reporting requirements.
While these changes took effect at the federal level on January 1, 2015, many state OSHA plans do not yet recognize them. Some have indicated that both changes will go into effect later in the year. For example, Iowa OSHA announced the changes would go into effect on January 14, 2015. Tennessee OSHA similarly announced that the federal amendments will be effective February 24, 2015.
Other state plans, however, have given no such indication. In fact, for some, adoption is not guaranteed. Early this year, Kentucky OSHA announced that the federal changes did not go into effect in Kentucky on January 1, 2015 and that it will review the new reporting rule to “determine what action may be necessary.” Until then, it will continue to enforce its current reporting requirement, which requires employers to report any work-related fatality or hospitalization of three or more employees within eight hours and any work-related amputation or hospitalization of fewer than three employees within 72 hours following the incident. The changes have also not been adopted in California. Given the state’s generally, more rigorous requirements, California OSHA will more than likely maintain its current reporting rule, which requires employers report within eight hours any of the following that occur at, or in connection with, the place of employment: 1) fatality; 2) in-patient hospitalization (other than medical observation) for a period of more than 24 hours; 3) loss of any body member; and 4) serious degree of permanent disfigurement.
These significant differences may create compliance issues for employers operating in both federal and state OSHA plan jurisdictions. Aside from differences in reporting requirements, employers may have similar establishments that are partially exempt from OSHA recordkeeping obligations and those that are not, even though they have the same NAICS code. For example, newly exempt gasoline stations operating in federal jurisdictions did not have to post their 2014 OSHA 300A form by February 1 this year. (OSHA has confirmed this on its own FAQ page, available here.) If that same gasoline station were operating in Tennessee, though, it would; it all depends on the state in which the establishment operates.
Employers should therefore be diligent in confirming whether they have any establishments in state OSHA plan jurisdictions and, if so, what that state’s reporting and recordkeeping requirements are. They can do so by contacting their State Plan Office. A full directory of state plans and their contact information can be found here. Employers can find more information on Federal OSHA’s updates to the recordkeeping and reporting rule, including a helpful list of FAQs, here.