What Is Electronic Reporting?

Once, not so long ago, companies reported safety hazards, safety-related fatalities, and workplace illnesses by filling out forms and mailing or faxing them to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). Filling out forms manually took a lot of time, and response time was slow due to this tedious process (learn more about the Benefits of Expedited EHS Reporting).

Thanks to recent technology, reports can now be sent electronically. This means workers or supervisors can fill out accident, fatality, or injury reports at the scene using a handheld device and send it directly to OSHA.

How Has Electronic Reporting Helped Companies Stay Compliant?

OSHA regulations implemented in January 2015 state that workplace fatalities must be reported within eight hours and serious injury must be reported to OSHA within twenty-four hours.

Electronic reporting has shortened both the reporting and response times and ensure that all stakeholders are informed in real time. Reduced response times in hospitals and medical institutions have improved patient outcomes and saved lives. For businesses, it means they are able to correct a hazard quickly before more injuries have occurred.

What Is OSHA 300?

OSHA instituted clear rules for reporting workplace hazards in 2015 in the form of the Voluntary Safety and Health Program (VPP). The goal of these guidelines is to:

  • Improve two-way dialogue between employers and employees regarding safety and health concerns in the workplace (see Implementing a Safety Culture: Speak Up for Safety to learn about the importance of communication in the workplace)
  • Make up-to-date data about health and safety programs, strategies, and equipment available to companies and their employees
  • Encourage employee involvement in the identification of workplace hazards to make proposals for hazard solutions, to become certified in hazard identification and safety program evaluation
  • Increase employee input in identifying effective reporting strategies and making recommendations for eliminating workplace hazards

This is where OSHA 300 comes in. OSHA 300 is intended to ease and increase incident reporting and shorten response time to those reports. Using form 300, employees responsible for reporting these workplace incidents merely fill out the form at the scene using a handheld device and send it electronically.

Why Keep an OSHA Log?

As a result of OSHA 300 regulations, the workplace is required to keep a record of workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

This log must be kept up to date and available at the worksite. Records must be kept for at least five years. Every February through April, business owners, or their designates, are required to post a summary of the injuries and illnesses from the previous year. Copies must also be available upon request to present and past employees or their legal counsel.

Why Has OSHA Implemented These Regulations?

OSHA 300 is intended to increase workplace safety for workers across the United States. Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will “nudge” employers to focus on safety. And, as we have seen in many examples, more attention to safety will save the lives and limbs of many workers, and will ultimately help the employer’s bottom line as well. Finally, this regulation improves the accuracy of this data by ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illnesses.

A new rule took effect on January 1st. In addition to regulations referred to as OSHA 300, this Final Rule requires employers of specific industries to submit data on fatalities, injuries, and illness that until 2017 had been part of the OSHA 300 log. This data submitted electronically means that OSHA and other stakeholders will be privy to even more data in real time. Through data analysis, OSHA plans to enforce reporting and compliance.

Data will be posted to the OSHA website in an effort to increase public disclosure. This information will serve as an incentive for employers to improve workplace health and safety for its employees. The data also provides vital information to workers, prospective employees, clients, health and safety research institutes, and the community.

Advantages of Electronic Reporting

Electronic reporting significantly reduces response time. Rapid response time may well save lives of employees now and in the future by eliminating or correcting a hazardous situation. If unresolved, unsafe conditions could result in death, injury, or illness.

The time saved by electronic reporting is important for safety reasons. Slow response times can mean financial penalties. These can be reflected in lawsuits, higher insurance costs, employee lost-work days, penalties for health and safety violations, OSHA inspections, lower safety ratings for the business, and reluctance of work force to stay with your enterprise or to apply for employment with your firm. Electronic reporting has many benefits, and will soon be the only way of reporting. Stay ahead of the competition and start implementing an electronic reporting program today.