OSHA has said that its new requirement for companies to submit injury and illness reports electronically kicks in on December 1. But before we get into that, a quick question:
What is a leading cause of safety failures when we institute changes in the workplace? How about that we fail to communicate the changes to the people on the ground who actually have to implement them?
Keep that in mind as we look at the weird, convoluted path this new requirement is taking.
It is by no means certain that the deadline will actually hit on December 1. Right now that is still the plan, but nothing about this rule has gone according to plan so far. The idea behind the new requirement was fairly straightforward. Companies would start submitting their OSHA incident and injury forms electronically. OSHA would have the information in a more timely manner and in a format that was easy to analyze. So far so good.
But OSHA stuck in some big changes aimed at encouraging reporting, such as prohibitions against punishing workers who report injuries, restrictions on post-injury drug and alcohol testing and safety incentive programs. Those changes were confusing and struck many as a pathway to lawsuits, not safety. More than that, OSHA’s statements about making company injury data public made it look like this was more about “name and shame” than improving reporting. As one OSHA document puts it:
(B)ehavioral science suggests that public disclosure of the data will “nudge” employers to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses in order to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers, and the broader public that their workplaces provide safe and healthy work environments for their employees.
Several industry groups sued to stop the regulations and the implementation was delayed. Currently the courts are looking at the challenges and OSHA says it is reviewing the whole regulation internally.
But none of that changes the actual status of the new reporting rule. Here is where we stand:
- The deadline for reporting is December 1 – As outlined in an overview on the Construction Dive website, establishments in any industry and with 250 or more employees and industries in High Risk categories, like construction, must submit by the 300A form ( Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) by December 1. Other reports and other types of companies will be phased in next year.
- The reporting website is up and running – After delays, glitches and a still unexplained security breach, the site became operational this summer.
- The anti-retaliation requirements are in force – Those rules have actually been in place since December of last year. There is no indication that they have had any positive or negative impact, but we don’t know if they are being actively enforced either.
Which brings me back to the question of why change management fails. In case after case, it is because we launched a big change, but failed to communicative it to the people who had to implement the change. We didn’t explain what the change meant or what they needed to do to make it successful.
We have one of the most significant changes in how we track workplace injuries and very few of the people who need to comply know what they need to do or understand what the change really means or whether it will really happen by the deadline.
So this should go smoothly, right?
Are your policies up to date on the injury and illness changes? Have you taken steps to ensure that you aren’t violating the anti-retaliation provisions? We can help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.