Work-related injuries and illnesses: 6 common OSHA reporting mistakes
It’s not easy to create an accurate log of work-related injuries and illnesses, so we created a list of 6 common OSHA reporting mistakes to help you avoid them.
By Cory Sander
Work-related injuries and illnesses kick off many OSHA reporting requirements. It’s easy to find yourself staring down OSHA form 301 (individual accident report), OSHA form 300 (log of all injuries and illnesses) and OSHA form 300a (end of year summary).
Many EHS managers find it difficult to create an accurate log of work related injuries and illnesses. To help make it easier, we’ve created a list of six common OSHA reporting mistakes to help you avoid them. Do any of these sound familiar?
You’re not filling out OSHA form 301 fast enough.
Are you keeping up with your paperwork? OSHA requires that you fill out form 301 within seven calendar days after you learn about a workplace injury or illness. Typically, you’ll find out about an injury the day it happens, so the clock starts ticking immediately. If you don’t find out about an injury until two weeks later, your seven-day deadline starts the day you find out. Make it habit to start filling out the form as soon as you learn about an accident. You may need the full seven days to gather information and fill in all the details.
You don’t take the time to conduct a thorough investigation.
After any injury or illness, you should investigate to find out exactly what happened and why it happened. This allows you to accurately and completely fill out all OSHA forms, but more importantly, it gives you the chance to discover the root cause and correct it to avoid similar accidents in the future.
Take your time and conduct a thorough investigation. Interview the injured party as well as any witnesses. They’ll each give you a different perspective and different insights into the situation. It’s also crucial to find out what was happening before the accident. Were there special circumstances or challenges that contributed to the accident? If you’re struggling, try following a proven root cause analysis method.
You’re not logging near misses.
A near miss is when an accident almost happens. Someone working above you drops a tool, and it just misses hitting you. You slip on the floor in the manufacturing area but catch yourself before you fall. Technically, OSHA doesn’t require you to track and report near misses, but it’s a good idea to do it anyway. This is your chance to discover potentially dangerous practices or conditions in your workplace and take corrective action before there’s an injury. Log those near misses, find out why they happened and fix that slippery floor before there’s a fall. Logging near misses is one of the most effective tools for accident prevention.
Your employees aren’t reporting work-related injuries.
Maybe your employees view themselves as tough and simply don’t think an injury is slowing them down. Or perhaps the team just doesn’t realize how important it is to report injuries. To comply with OSHA injury reporting, you need to know about all the injuries at your facility, and this might take a cultural shift. You’ll need both top-down and bottom-up support. Clearly communicate why it’s key to report injuries and how the reporting process works. Look for champions in both management and among facility workers to talk to their peers.
Your forms don’t have the right signatures.
All those OSHA recordkeeping forms require a signature that certifies the accuracy of the data. But are you having the right person sign the form? According to OSHA, the signature should come from the highest-ranking company official working at the site. Typically, this isn’t going to be an EHS manager, safety manager or HR manager. You might need to tap a corporate officer or in some cases, even the company owner.
You’re not double-checking the accuracy of your data.
There’s a lot of data logging and re-logging when you’re doing OSHA recordkeeping. Some calculations, such as total hours worked by all employees last year, can be tricky to calculate. You’re also transferring data points from OSHA form 301 to OSHA form 300 to OSHA form 300a. With all these details, it’s easy to make a mistake or transfer something from one form to another incorrectly. Try filling out all your paperwork then stepping away for a few hours. Then give everything a once-over with fresh eyes. It’s also a good idea to have a second person double check key calculations and numbers.
Remember these pitfalls the next time you find yourself logging an injury or illness. It might just help you meet your OSHA reporting requirements quicker and more accurately.
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