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The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was created to prevent accidents in the workplace and safeguard employees' health. As an employer, you are required to establish and enforce workplace safety and health regulations, provide safety training and education, and keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
Of course, you want your employees to have a safe workplace. No manager or business owner wants employees to get hurt at work. But aside from the humanitarian focus, workplace safety comes down to real dollars and cents for your business.
The best way to understand workplace safety is to start with the costs of ignoring it. Sources estimate that the basic costs for a serious workplace injury is about $27,000. That is in direct costs. Indirect costs such as lost expertise, the need for additional workers to fill in, administrative costs and increased insurance premiums can easily run 3-6 times the direct costs. And that doesn’t even take into account possible OSHA fines or lawsuits.
Keeping complete and accurate records about your company’s safety training programs, safety procedures and onsite accidents can help you do several essential things, including:
Before an accident or injury occurs, make sure you understand the required OSHA record keeping forms and logs. Be certain you are using the correct version of the form, that the forms and logs are being completed properly and that the documents are maintained for the required period of time.
Knowing how to do this before an emergency arises will help you avoid mistakes in a crisis. That’s better for you and better for your employees.
OSHA 300 forms: Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. You need to log each recordable industrial accident, injury or illness on this form within six working days of learning about it.
Minor injuries or illnesses like a cut requiring a band-aide or a headache do not have to be logged, but if medical treatment like stitches or a trip to the ER is required, you do need to log it. Check with your local OSHA office or use a reliable OSHA guidebook if you have questions about what is a workplace injury and what is not.
This log must be available to all employees if they chose to view it. In the interest of employee privacy, you may log these incidents without listing the employee’s name or other identifying information. Just use an accident report number, and maintain those personal details only on a private log or on the accident reports themselves.
301 (or equivalent): Injury and Illness Incident Report. On these OSHA forms, you must describe each incident in detail. Fill it out within seven days of learning about an incident, but you should do it as soon as possible to make sure all details are correct.
Be sure to include information about the employee’s activities before the accident, any environmental factors such as a rain soaked surface, safety procedures followed or not followed by the employee, activity occurring near the accident site and the actions taken after the accident. Also note any safety training the employee may have had that relates to the injury. Put all of these critical HR forms into a separate employee safety folder or a binder reserved just for employee accident and safety records.
300A: Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. This form, which summarizes the number and nature of on-the-job injuries and illnesses for a calendar year, is created by reviewing your OSHA accident report forms and logs. It must be posted in a conspicuous place by February 1 of the following year and remain on view through April 30. Keeping your work accident report form binder and log up-to-date is essential if you are to complete this summary accurately.
You don’t need to file any OSHA forms with the government but you must have them on hand if an OSHA inspector comes to review them. Maintain onsite, accessible copies of all OSHA forms for five years. If an accident results in litigation, maintain those records until the lawsuit and all relevant appeals have been resolved, even if it’s beyond the five year minimum.
You may choose to maintain your OSHA records electronically using OSHA training and compliance software. Be sure the software you select produces valid OSHA forms, and that employee confidentiality is maintained.
HRdirect® has all the recordkeeping tools you need to ensure total OSHA compliance.