3. 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.
4. As employee safety awareness improves, 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.
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.
Back to the question posed in the title of this article: 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.
For more information and guidance about OSHA reporting and recordkeeping, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar, OSHA Reporting & You.