February 1st is the day when most companies post their 300A forms summarizing all of the recordable incidents from the prior year. But, for many companies, this is just the first step in being compliant with the revised recordkeeping requirements.
Depending on the establishment size and the industry an establishment is engaged in, some companies may also have to submit their 300A forms electronically to OSHA by March 2nd.
In part 2 of the two-part blog series on OSHA’s recordkeeping standard, we will explain each one of the forms in the three form series, who has to keep these records and who is required to submit a 300A form electronically. In addition, we’ll talk about a few things that companies are often confused by such as which hours to include when totaling hours worked for the year, dealing with privacy cases and using equivalent forms in place of the 301 form.
OSHA 300 Forms
The OSHA 300 forms consist of three parts: 300 Log, 300A form and 301 form. Each part has a specific purpose and requirement which we will discuss below.
OSHA 300 Log
The 300 log is a written record of all the work related injuries and illnesses within a specific time frame that meet the recordability criteria outlined in 29 CFR 1904.
Entering an injury or illness onto the 300 log is a three step process. To complete an entry onto the 300 log, you’ll need the following information:
- Employee’s name & job title
- Injury or illness date
- Where the event occurred
- A description of the injury or illness to include affected body parts and the object or substance that directly injured or made the employee ill
- Whether the injury resulted in death, days away from work, a job restriction or transfer or whether the event was another type of recordable
- For events that resulted in days away, a transfer to another job or restricted work, the number of days of each
- The type of case: injury, skin disorder, respiratory condition, poisoning, hearing loss or all other illnesses
Privacy Concern Cases
Sometimes the type of injury or illness fits into the category of being a “privacy concern case”. Privacy cases are determined by the employer however, they have to meet a set of criteria to be entered onto the 300 log this way. Employers cannot simply enter all of their recordable incidents as privacy cases.
To be considered a privacy concern case, the injury or illness must fall into one of these categories:
- An incident involving an injury or illness of an intimate body part or the reproductive system
- Incidents involving an injury or illness resulting from a sexual assault
- Incidents involving mental illness
- Incidents that involve an HIV infection, hepatitis or tuberculosis
- Needlestick injuries and/or injuries resulting from being cut with a sharp object that was contaminated with another person’s blood or other potentially infectious material
- Other illnesses if the affected employee makes a request to keep their name off the log
To enter a privacy case onto the log, the employer simply enters “privacy case” where they would normally enter the employee’s name.
The 300 log will total the number of deaths, days away, job restrictions and transfers, other recordable cases and the different types of incidents. These different totals are then transferred to the “summary page” or form 300A which we will discuss next.
Form 300A is essentially a one page summary of the 300 log. The summary page is divided into two main parts. On the left side of the form you’ll find the actual injury and illness data summarized by:
- Total number of deaths
- Total number of incidents involving days away from work
- Total number of days away
- Total number of incidents involving a job transfer and/or job restriction
- Total number of restricted and transferred days
- Total number of injuries, skin disorders, respiratory condition cases, poisoning cases, hearing loss cases and all other illnesses logged onto the 300 log
The right side of the form is for company specific information such as the company name, address, industry description, the SIC code and the NAICS code. If you’re not sure what yours are, you can look them up using the NAICS Association’s search tool and crosswalk. This site will allow you to search for a particular industry to find these codes. It’s extremely important to use the right NAICS codes because this information is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses to classify injury and illness statistics.
In addition to this information, the 300A form is also looking for employment information such as the average number of employees that a company may have annually and the total hours worked by all employees during the reporting year.
Let’s talk for a minute about what information should and should not be included when calculating the total number of hours worked—and which employees to include.
Whose Hours to Include
|Hourly (both full and part time)|
|All other employees supervised on a day to day basis by the host employer (including temporary workers)|
Hours to Include
|Hours NOT to Include|
|Hours actually worked||Vacation hours|
|Overtime hours||Sick day/sick leave hours|
|Any other hours that were not actually worked—even if the employees were paid for them|
To calculate the total hours worked for salaried employees, either actual hours worked should be used or if this information isn’t tracked, OSHA allows for work hours to be estimated. The easiest way to do this is to choose one formula for doing this and stick with it. For example using a standard 8 hour day/5 day week/50 weeks per year formula.
The final piece of information needed on the right side of the 300A form is a signature by a company executive. There are lots of misconceptions about who this person must be but we’re going to clarify that for you.
The 300a form must be signed by one of the following people:
- An owner of the company (but only if the company is a sole proprietorship or partnership)
- An officer of the corporation
- The highest ranking company official working at the establishment or their immediate supervisor
The most important thing to remember when someone signs the 300A form is that by signing it they are certifying that the form has been reviewed and that what is being reported on the form is true and complete to the best of their knowledge.
After the form 300A is signed, it must be posted from February 1st through April 30th in a place notices are typically posted. In other words, where the employees would normally go to review company notices and such—which means they cannot be “posted” electronically on a computer.
Form 301 or the “injury and illness incident report” is a document that explains each entry onto the 300 log in greater detail. It’s really just OSHA’s version of an incident report and in conjunction with the 300 log and the 300A form, contains the information used to help paint an overall picture of the extent and severity of each logged incident.
If a company chooses to use their own form for this documentation that’s fine provided the equivalent form contains all of the information that the 301 form asks for.
OSHA 300 forms must be kept for a minimum of five years. When storing these documents, it’s important to remember that it’s not just the 300A form that must be kept for five years—it’s all three forms in the 300 series. In other words, you must store the 300 log, 300A form and the 301 form for each year going back five years. If the 301 form is not used, the equivalent form must be stored in its place.
Now that we’ve discussed in detail each one of the 300 forms, let’s talk about who has to keep these records. The popular myth about recordkeeping is that if an employer or establishment has 10 or fewer employees, they are automatically exempt from having to keep a 300 log or post a 300A form. This is not entirely accurate.
The partial exemption allowed by OSHA is based on two things: the number of employees and the type of industry.
To meet this exemption, a company must have had 10 or fewer employees (at any time during the reporting year—including temporary, seasonal and part-time employees) and/or their NAICS code must be on the list of “low-hazard” industries.
Up until a few years ago, companies did not have to submit their 300 forms annually to OSHA unless OSHA requested them as part of an investigation or inspection. In fact, the only time a company had to report incidents directly to OSHA was if the incident resulted in a death or in an in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. This meant that a company could have a large number of recordable incidents without OSHA being made aware.
All of this changed in 2015 when OSHA revised the recordkeeping standards to include the addition of injuries to the “serious injury reporting” requirements and also included a new requirement for certain companies to submit their 300A forms electronically. For companies with a large number of recordable injuries, this was a game changer.
Since the original revision was published, OSHA has made several updates with the final rule eliminating a large number of establishments from having to electronically submit 300A information. If an establishment meets any of these three criteria, they DO NOT have to submit their 300A information to OSHA however, there’s a catch. For electronic reporting purposes, OSHA considers an “establishment” to be one location—not the entire firm or company as a whole. Here are the three criteria:
- During the previous calendar year, an establishment’s peak employment consisted of 19 or fewer employees—regardless of the industry the establishment was engaged in
- The establishment of any size that is engaged in an industry on this list
- The establishment employed between 20 and 249 employees during its peak employment (during the previous calendar year) AND the establishment IS NOT engaged in ANY industry on this list
If your company meets the criteria for having to electronically report your annual 300A form to OSHA, you will need to do this by March 2nd for calendar year 2019. If you’re not sure how to get started with this requirement, OSHA has created multiple “how to” documents that will help.
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