OSHA Small Business Rules

OSH Act Recordkeeping Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to maintain safe work environments. It also requires employers to complete no small amount of recordkeeping functions. Here's what you need to know.

Safety and health standards have become a centerpiece in many American workplaces.

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 requires U.S. employers to comply with federally mandated health and safety standards, and to maintain safe work environments at all times.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), a federal agency that was created by the legislation, is responsible for enforcing compliance with the legislation. OSHA guidelines require covered employers to perform a variety of functions related to the health and well-being of their employees. Signage, OSHA posters, and other activities are standard practices for many of the nation's employers.

But OSHA also requires covered employers to adhere to strict reporting requirements. As a small business employer, you need to know that these reporting requirements are not applied uniformly to all U.S. employers. Instead, OSHA has several reporting categories that can vary according to the size of your operation and the types of activities your business conducts.

Small Employers

Employers with fewer than 10 employees have relatively few reporting requirements, at least when you compare them to larger operations. These employers aren't required to keep OSHA injury and illness records unless they are asked to do so by OSHA. If the employer is covered by the OSH Act, they must report incidents that result in a workplace death or the serious injury of three or more workers.

Low-Hazard Employers

Employers in industries that have been designated as "low-hazard" are treated like small employers for OSHA purposes. These industries include car dealers, apparel stores, restaurants, finance/insurance/real estate agencies, and several other service or professional industries (e.g. business services, medical offices, membership organizations).

Other Employers

All other employers are required to maintain accurate records of workplace safety incidents using Form 300, "Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses". A separate Form 300 must be maintained for each location at which the employer intends to operate for more than a year.

When a workplace safety incident occurs, it must be reported to OSHA using Form 301, "Injury and Illness Incident Report". Incidents that result in a death or the hospitalization of three or more employees must be verbally reported to OSHA at the area office that is located nearest to the site of the event.

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