Many organizations have a safety office that manages OSHA compliance, but for smaller companies, this often falls to the HR managers.
In larger companies, there may be one or several people whose job is to maintain workplace safety and compliance with OSHA regulations. But in most smaller organizations, the work of training, record-keeping, and reporting may often falls to HR managers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was created with the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The purpose of OSHA is to ensure safe working conditions for by establishing industry standards, training and education, and regulating employers' equipment and facilities.
OSHA is part of the Department of Labor (DOL).
HR Managers and OSHA Compliance
Compliance has been a responsibility of all U.S. businesses since the inception of OSHA, and recent requirements have added to that responsibility.
Since the beginning of 2019, businesses in certain high-risk industries such as specialized freight trucking, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals and senior care facilities, and which have at least 20 and up to 249 employees, must electronically file OSHA's Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) by March 2 of each year.
This compliance requirement will most likely be carried out by the company's HR manager or managers.
According to OSHA's website,
"The Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is accessible from the ITA launch page, where you can provide the Agency your OSHA Form 300A information. The date by which certain employers are required to submit to OSHA the information from their completed Form 300A is March 2nd of the year after the calendar year covered by the form."
In addition, the OSHA requires that employers report any worker fatality within eight hours and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours.
So, which organizations are subject to OSHA's compliance requirements?
Most employers who have more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. The are some "low-risk" industries that are exempted, however, and minor injuries requiring only first aid do not need to be recorded.
OSHA defines a serious work-related injury or illness as:
- Any work-related fatality.
- Any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job.
- Any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid.
- Any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums.
In addition, there are also special recording criteria for work-related cases involving needle sticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis.
HR Managers and OSHA Record-keeping
An important part of OSHA compliance is accurate record-keeping of workplace injuries or illnesses. In addition to complying with required end-of-year reporting, these records can be used to help businesses make changes that may reduce the number of safety-related incidents.
When it comes to compliance record-keeping, there are three OSHA forms involved:
- Form 301: an injury and illness incident report
- Form 300: a log of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Form 300A: a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses
As soon as any accident or injury occurs, the Injury and Illness Incident Report (OSHA Form 301) must be filled out and logged on the OSHA Form 300. This document can help your company should you ever need records for safety investigations or claims. In addition, the aggregate data can be used to perform workplace safety evaluations, identify recurring hazards, and for developing necessary safety precautions.
Also, in the event of an OSHA inspection, the Form 300 is usually the first document requested. Failure to maintain and present your Form 300 can incur a fine of up to $8,000 for each year of violation.
HR Managers and Safety Training
In addition to proper reporting and record-keeping, HR managers are often the individuals tasked with providing required safety training. This is another key component of OSHA compliance.
According to OSHA’s training requirements document,
“Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. No person should ever have to be injured, become ill, or die for a paycheck. ”
HR managers, while not necessarily familiar with the specific safety aspects of every function in their company, can provide adequate training in general workplace safety. This is critical not only for ensuring compliance, but for avoiding liabilities as one of the first questions an incident investigator will ask is,
“Did the employee receive adequate training to do the job?”
When creating or revising a company safety training plan there are important points to consider:
A safety training plan should have information for emergency situations. This could be as essential as to how to exit the building, how to report accidents or injuries, what employees should do if an OSHA inspector comes to the workplace, and proper handling of hazardous substances.
Companies should provide training in a way which ensures that all employees can understand. This means managers need to provide language-appropriate training materials or methods to ensure workers get the information they need.
HR managers should be sure to display the official OSHA “Job Safety and Health— It’s the Law!” poster, which outlines employee rights and employer responsibilities.
HR managers should also educate all workers in their rights as employees, and ensure that owners and managers understand that retaliation or discrimination against those who report workplace injury or illness is illegal and can bring costly repercussions.
Staying in Compliance With OSHA
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