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4 Ways OSHA Recordkeeping Improves Your Safety Program

4 Ways OSHA Recordkeeping Improves Your Safety Program

While OSHA reporting and recordkeeping may not seem as urgent as an unconscious employee or a toppled forklift, the process is a vital part of environmental health and safety management.

In the immediate aftermath of a workplace injury, rarely is anyone’s first thought “we need to report this to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.” Rather, initial considerations have to do with seeking medical attention, followed by rectifying the source of the incident. Then comes an assessment of the financial impact—workers’ compensation, lost productivity, potential legal claims, and so on.

And for many organizations, an incident that isn’t recorded and reported in a timely manner can bring significant expenses, as the minimum fine for a single late or missing report is $5,000.

4 Reasons OSHA Recordkeeping is Important

While regulatory penalties are certainly worth avoiding, there are plenty of other reasons to prioritize recordkeeping and reporting. Consider the following benefits identified by OSHA:

Tracking injuries and accidents can improve prevention.

Records may expose trends and themes among issues plaguing a facility. If you can anticipate what’s likely to happen, you can proactively protect your workforce (rather than merely responding to incidents), which is the ultimate goal of any EHS program. 

Using data helps identify problem areas

The more you know, the better you can identify and minimize existing risks. Go a step further and analyze the data, and you’ll be able to determine gaps and insufficiencies in your safety program. You may learn that employees need more training, or that a certain procedure is prone to error.

Better administer company safety and health programs

Again, the best way to determine the efficacy of your program is through documented data. By analyzing your records, you can find out if you’re truly, tangibly improving your safety results.

Workers are more likely to follow safe practices and report hazards.

Recordkeeping and workplace safety are a virtuous cycle. The more you know, the more awareness you’ll have around the facility in key areas such as training or personal protective equipment. When employees understand that proper use of PPE demonstrably correlates to improved safety, for example, they have no reason not to protect themselves and keep an eye on their co-workers’ behavior. 

Read up on all of the deadlines and best practices in the
OSHA Reporting Resource Hub

Exemptions from OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

While keeping records is almost always a good idea, it’s not actually required for every organization.

Small organizations are exempt from most OSHA recordkeeping requirements. If you have 10 or fewer employees at all times throughout the year, you don’t have to keep safety records. You don’t need to fill out OSHA 300, 301, and 300A forms if you choose not to. 

Companies in low-hazard industries are partially exempt. If you operate in what OSHA deems a “low-hazard industry,” your organization must still comply with reporting claims, but you are not required to maintain OSHA 300 logs (although doing so remains a best practice). To determine whether your work environment is considered low-hazard, you’ll need to find out your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, then check to see if your code shows up on OSHA’s listing of partially exempt industries. Keep in mind that we’re talking about partial exemptions. If OSHA or any other agency requests that you keep these forms—if the Bureau of Labor Statistics performs a random sampling, for example, and requires you to maintain forms throughout the year—then you’re still on the hook. 

Exempted or not, all employers must report workplace-related fatalities and serious injuries. And if you do keep OSHA logs, be sure to maintain your records for at least 5 years.

So, do you really need to comply with OSHA recordkeeping requirements? For many companies, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” For the rest, it’s a “yes, you probably should.” Regardless of whether your organization is exempt or not, recordkeeping is a best management practice. Plus, records help you prevent your workers’ compensation costs from spiking.

Deep Dive into OSHA Reporting Requirements

What’s recordable? What’s reportable? Am I exempt? How do I tell all the OSHA forms apart? Got lots of questions? We’ve got lots of answers in the OSHA Reporting Resource Hub.

KPA makes OSHA electronic reporting—and all elements of OSHA compliance and workforce health and safety—as easy as possible. Complete and file OSHA Forms 301, 300, and 300A quickly and accurately with KPA EHS Software.

Learn how we can save you time and money. Take a Test Drive >>


About The Author

Toby Graham

Toby manages the marketing communications team here at KPA. She's on a quest to help people tell clear, fun stories that their audience can relate to. She's a HUGE sugar junkie...and usually starts wandering the halls looking for cookies around 3pm daily.

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