The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) new rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses takes effect in two phases on August 10, 2016 and January 1, 2017. Beginning August 10, 2016, the rule requires employers to have a reasonable procedure for employees to promptly and accurately report work-related injuries and illnesses. Beginning on January 1, 2017, covered employers will begin electronically submitting the injury and illness reporting forms to OSHA, and OSHA will publish the results on a website open to the public.
By August 10, 2016, employers must amend their injury and illness policies to (a) expressly state that employees have a right to report work-related injuries and illnesses, (b) provide a reasonable procedure for employees to report such workplace injuries and illnesses, (c) not deter or discourage employees from reporting such injuries and illnesses, and (d) assure employees that the employer will not discriminate against nor retaliate against them for making such reports.
While criterion (a) and (d) are self-explanatory, some explanation of criterion (b) and (c) is necessary. According to the comments to criterion (b), OSHA will consider unreasonable any rule requiring immediate reporting, particularly if there is the possibility of discipline if the employee fails to immediately report the injury or illness. OSHA considers some injuries and illnesses, such as repetitive stress, impossible to report immediately because the employee is often unaware of the injury or illness until some period of time after the onset of the condition. OSHA will consider requiring employees to report injuries as soon as reasonably known or recognized by the employee as reasonable.
According to the comments to criterion (c), an employer's rule may not contain any incentives or disincentives that would cause a reasonable person to not report a workplace injury or illness. For example, a safety program where employees who do not have a work-related injury or illness are eligible for a raffle drawing or safety bonus would violate the rule because the raffle or bonus is an incentive to not report an injury or illness.