COVID-19 and OSHA recordkeeping

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many employers have questions about OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements – and the criteria for recordability – regarding COVID-19.

This is especially true when trying to determine whether a case is work-related.

Under the agency’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, which means employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if the case:

  1. Is confirmed to be COVID-19.
  2. Is work-related, as defined by 1904.5.
  3. Involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 1904.7.

First, the case must be a confirmed as COVID-19. This means the employee must test positive using one of the testing methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Next, the case must be work-related, as defined by 1904.5. According to the regulation, “work-related” means that an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a preexisting injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment, unless an exception in 1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies (see 1904.5).

OSHA defines the work environment as “the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work.”

Lastly, the case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 1904.7, as follows:

“You must consider an injury or illness to meet the general recording criteria, and therefore to be recordable, if it results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness. You must also consider a case to meet the general recording criteria if it involves a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional, even if it does not result in death, days away from work, restricted work or job transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, or loss of consciousness.”

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Annual DOL OIG report outlines challenges for OSHA, MSHA


Photo: Department of Labor Office of Inspector General
First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has “exacerbated” the challenges for OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration to use their resources to protect the safety and health of workers, according to the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

In 2020 DOL Top Management and Performance Challenges, an annual report released Nov. 16, DOL OIG notes that the number of whistleblower complaints has increased during the pandemic while full-time staffing in the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program has decreased.

MSHA, meanwhile, suspended five of its enforcement activities, including its “accident reduction program,” as of May. The agency also reduced its work in 13 areas, including mine emergency operations, but continued 15 activities at full capacity, including regular safety and health inspections and fatal incident investigations.

“MSHA needs to do more to address the potential backlog of suspended and reduced enforcement activities resulting from the pandemic and develop a plan to manage the backlog once full operations resume,” the report states. “Further, MSHA needs to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at mines and use that information to determine whether to issue an emergency temporary standard related to the pandemic.”

The report also highlights OSHA’s difficulties in verifying that employers have abated hazards at general industry and construction worksites.

“OSHA needs to complete its initiatives to improve employer reporting of severe injuries and illnesses and enhance staff training on abatement verification, especially of smaller and transient construction employers,” DOL OIG states.

Other challenges noted in the report:

  • A 25-year high in black lung cases and the need to develop strategies to address it. MSHA is studying its August 2014 coal dust rule, but this analysis likely will take a decade or more to be completed, DOL OIG states.
  • Powered-haulage incidents, which accounted for nearly half of mining fatalities in 2017 and 2018. MSHA launched an initiative on the topic in 2018 that includes a website, videos, safety materials and mine-site visits.
  • Both agencies are challenged on how to regulate respirable crystalline silica. As noted in another report released the same day, OSHA and MSHA have different permissible exposure limits.

OSHA revised its National Emphasis Program on respirable silica in February and issued a revised directive for inspection procedures. DOL OIG notes that the agency conducted a webinar for inspectors on how to inspect for silica violations and enforce “various provisions of the new standards.”

“OIG is currently performing an audit to determine the extent OSHA has protected workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica,” the report states.

McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

No change to number of on-the-job injuries and illnesses in private sector, BLS says

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The number of nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses in the U.S. private sector remained unchanged in 2019, as did the incidence rate of total recordable cases, according to annual data released Nov. 4 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workers in private industry experienced an estimated 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses last year – a number that has remained the same over the past three years. The total recordable rate – also unchanged for the third consecutive year – was 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers. Estimated nonfatal injuries and illnesses that resulted in at least one day of lost work totaled 888,220 – “essentially unchanged from 2018” as well.

Other findings:

  • The manufacturing sector accounted for 15% of the estimated 2.8 million injuries and illnesses, but its total recordable rate decreased to 3.3 per 100 FTE workers from 3.4 in 2018.
  • The median number of days away from work was eight, the same as in 2018.
  • Injured employees age 65 or older had a median DAFW of 16.
  • The DAFW incident rate for men decreased to 91.7 per 10,000 FTE workers from 94.3. For women, that rate decreased to 80.4 from 83.4.
  • Additionally, private-industry workers with sprains, strains or tears that resulted in DAFW visited medical treatment facilities at a rate of 6.5 cases per 10,000 FTE workers – down from 7.3 cases in 2018. BLS noted that medical treatment facilities include emergency rooms and/or inpatient hospitalizations.

    BLS obtains its estimates from the agency’s Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

OSHA releases employer injury, illness data for 2016-2018


Washington — OSHA has released work-related injury and illness data from a three-year period of electronic submissions of Form 300A.

Announced in a Sept. 4 press release, the release of the electronic injury and illness annual summaries from 2016 to 2018 comes after two June court decisions involving Freedom of Information Act cases: Center for Investigative Reporting v. U.S. Department of Labor and Public Citizen Foundation v. U.S. Department of Labor.

In the former case, Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu, from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, ruled that Form 300A data isn’t confidential because, in part, employers are required to post the form in a prominent spot in their workplaces each year. Employers also must give a copy of Form 300A to current and former employees and their personal representatives, at no charge, upon request.

Establishments with 250 or more employees and those with 20 to 249 employees in certain “high-hazard” industries are required to submit Form 300A electronically each year. In an article published Aug. 25 on its news site Reveal, CIP reports that around 40% of the establishments required to submit data in 2016 didn’t do so. That percentage increased to more than 50 in each of the next two years.

Along with calendar year files, OSHA provides a data dictionary on its website.

“The fact that an employer provided data does not mean that the employer is at fault, that the employer has violated any OSHA requirements, that OSHA has found any violations, or that the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation or other benefits,” OSHA says in the release.

McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Employers’ injury, illness data is public information, federal judge rules


Oakland, CA — Data from OSHA’s Form 300A is not confidential – in part because employers already are required to share injury and illness information with current and former employees, who in turn are free to share it, a federal judge has ruled.

“There are no restrictions on further dissemination of Form 300A information; as OSHA explained in its final rule in 2016, ‘[e]mployees or their representatives can … obtain and make public most of the information from these records at any time, if they wish,’” Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu, from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, wrote in her June 4 decision. “Therefore, the Form 300A information is both readily observable by and shared with employees, who have the right to make the information public.”

Ryu’s ruling was on a lawsuit stemming from a Freedom of Information Act request made by the nonprofit news organization Center for Investigative Reporting, seeking information from OSHA Forms 300A, 300 and 301. OSHA no longer collects information from the latter two forms.

In response to the FOIA request, OSHA and the Department of Labor argued that Form 300A information was confidential under two exemptions, one of which exempts “law enforcement” records from public disclosure. After the center filed its lawsuit in April 2018, OSHA then claimed that Form 300A information fell under Exemption 4 in the FOIA. This exemption protects “trade secrets and commercial or financial information [that is] obtained from a person and [is] privileged or confidential.”

In denying the exemption, Ryu pointed out that employers must post their completed Form 300A annually “in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted” for at least three months after the year covered by the records. Employers also must keep 300A forms for five years and give them “to current and former employees and their personal representatives upon request at no charge.”

Lawyers for DOL also argued that OSHA “has taken the position that the Form 300A data should be kept private” since November 2017. Ryu writes that the evidence shows OSHA did not make public statements about that change in position until June 2018, “which is six months after the first deadline for Form 300A electronic submissions.”

In a June 5 blog post on its news website Reveal, CIP states: “Understanding which employers are the most dangerous could motivate more employers to improve safety and provide workers with a deeper understanding of the risks associated with their jobs. The records can also help hold companies accountable.”

D. Victoria Baranetsky, Reveal’s general counsel, called the decision “a great win for freedom of access,” adding, “Not only did the court order the government to disclose the records but it, it stated that what qualifies as confidential is not a subjective test.’”