In response to recent academic studies suggesting that employers underreport accidents and discourage employees from reporting injuries sustained on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on October 1, 2009, a new national emphasis program (NEP) on recordkeeping.  

Establishments likely to make the list for inspection are those with 40 or more employees and reported DART rates of 0.0 to 4.2 in high rate industries. DART is the rate of recordable injuries and illness cases per 100 full-time employees resulting in days away from work, restricted work activity and/or job transfer in a given timeframe. Industries likely to be targeted include animal slaughtering, steel foundries, mobile home manufacturing, couriers and nursing care facilities. Companies that participate in the OSHA Strategic Partnership, the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) or the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) may be deleted from inspection lists.   

OSHA compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) will conduct extensive reviews of facilities and records looking for recordkeeping violations. CSHOs are required to review the records of all employees for facilities with fewer than 100 workers, at least 50 percent of the records for facilities with 101 to 250 employees, and 33 percent of the records for facilities with greater than 250 employees. The reviews will include the following records from calendar years 2007 and 2008: medical records, workers' compensation records, insurance documents, payroll/absentee records, company safety records, incident reports, first aid logs, alternate duty rosters and any disciplinary records regarding injury or illness. CSHOs also will review the facility's OSHA form 301 records to ensure that any reported accident or injury was properly recorded on the form.

Additionally, CSHOs will interview various employees. The interviews will include record keepers and management personnel regarding how injuries or illnesses are recorded. CSHOs also will interview employees working on jobs in which injuries or illnesses are likely to occur. CSHOs will conduct at least 10 interviews for facilities with less than 100 employees, 15 interviews for facilities with between 101 and 250 employees, and 20 interviews if more than 250 employees.    

Finally, CSHOs will conduct limited walkaround inspections of each facility. Any violations found during the inspection will be submitted for citation and imposition of penalties.  

Employers in targeted industries should prepare now for possible OSHA inspections under this new NEP. The first step is to review all OSHA 301 logs for accuracy and ensure that all supporting documents are in order. Employers also should assess their systems for reporting injuries and illnesses, including the transmittal of medical information from health care providers to record keepers. Finally, employers should assess the training level of their record keepers and ensure that managers and supervisors never discourage employees from reporting work related injuries and illnesses for any reason. Failure to act now could result in significant penalties as OSHA continues to step up its efforts in recordkeeping and related enforcement proceedings.