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What type of safety record-keeping and recording should we be doing?

Q:

There are many different standards and legislation out there along with an infinite number of best practices. This has become an overwhelming issue in our organization on knowing what to do and maybe more importantly, what not to do. What type of safety record-keeping and recording should we be doing?

A:

The question of which type of safety records to keep and the best ways to record them is an important one, and the answer is more complex than you might think.

Minimum Standards

OSHA mandates certain minimum record-keeping and reporting standards that apply to most corporations in America. The only companies that are exempt from these requirements are those with fewer than 10 employees or those operating in low injury-risk industries.

Companies that are bound by OSHA requirements are required to track incidences of injury and illness that occur in the workplace and they must detail these workplace incidents in a published report each year. In addition to this requirement, companies must inform OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality and within 24 hours of a severe accident (meaning an accident that results in an amputation or a loss of an eye). This quick reporting allows OSHA to dispatch investigators as needed.

Going Deeper

These federal standards represent a good starting point for record-keeping and reporting. However, some companies – particularly publicly traded companies – may want to go further in recording and reporting events in order to cultivate a positive public image as a company that cares deeply about the health and well-being of its employees.

An increasing number of investors, moreover, consider firms’ occupational health and safety records when making buying and selling decisions. A poor track record in this area may depress corporate valuation, leading to real economic losses for the company (find out how to avoid this in How to Look After Your Business' Safety Reputation). Therefore, it may be imperative for companies not only to report accidents, but also initiatives that they have launched to address safety challenges in their business in order to give a big picture view of their commitment to improved safety outcomes.

Compare Within Industries

The volume of reporting and the expectations for what these reports will contain may vary significantly across industries. For example, a metals and mining company are likely to have far more adverse events, as well as accompanying initiatives to report, than a bookstore. So, it is important for investors and others to compare track records and reporting within industries, guaranteeing an apples-to-apples perspective. Cross-industry comparisons may be badly distorted (these comparisons can also help you motivate safety buy-in from management – find out how in Get Your CEO to Support Safety with the Curve Approach).

Get Quality Consulting

Qualified consulting companies, as well as lawyers specializing in workplace safety and employer liability, can and should review a firm’s record-keeping and reporting to ensure that the firm is, at a minimum, meeting all legal reporting requirements.

These advisors can then offer comprehensive recommendations on upgrading procedures and policies. For example, they may provide important advice on how and why to carefully track and analyze near misses as a way to upgrade health and safety efforts (learn more in Near Misses: What They Are and Why You Should Report Them).


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Safety Products Inc provides a safety partnership with all of the companies we do business with. In this partnership we supply the occupational safety and work zone equipment you need to keep your employees safe, but we also offer service and support to the products we sell.   Full Bio