Avoid these three OSHA reporting challenges

The new year is quickly approaching, and so is the 2017 implementation of new OSHA rules for electronically tracking and reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. Naturally, many employers are worried about the potential for increased penalties and fines as a result of these new rules. Staying in compliance may seem especially daunting for those employers already struggling with challenges like:

  • Reporting worker injury data in multiple places and multiple formats on an ad-hoc schedule
  • Keeping track of pertinent worker injury or illness data, along with the next steps necessary to keep the reporting process moving
  • Instituting processes and procedures for employees to easily report injuries and incidents

The appropriate risk, insurance and claims management technology can help address these challenges—all from one central location and with very little human intervention. It can assist you with:

Reporting: If your system integrates with OSHA’s electronic reporting system, it can automatically transmit your worker injury data to OSHA’s system in the appropriate format—helping you to avoid duplicative data entry, as well as manipulating data to fit OSHA’s desired specifications.

Further, rules-based technology can make the decision to submit the information for you—meaning the technology is taxed with remembering to report to OSHA, not you. This creates fewer opportunities for reporting non-compliance.

Tracking: If your process for capturing and reporting injury data is paper driven—or even if it’s automated but shared among disparate technology systems—it can be a real challenge to keep track of workplace injury and illness occurrences, let alone where activities related to those occurrences stand.

As mentioned, risk, insurance and claims technology can automate the submission of claims data to OSHA, but it can still do so much more—including automate the incident intake process, assign follow up tasks to individuals related to worker injuries, and attach related documents to the incident report.

All these things help keep the reporting process moving, but also help keep injured workers engaged. As such, they’re less likely to take action against an employer for being negligent regarding their safety.

Processes: Finally, the new rules require that employers establish a “reasonable procedure” for employees to promptly and accurately report work-related injuries and illnesses. If your process is laden with paperwork or requires reporting injuries directly into an unaccommodating supervisor, it might not meet the litmus test for reasonable.

Easy-to-use risk, insurance and claims technology, however, can create a level of transparency that demonstrates your organization’s efforts to make reporting workplace injuries a welcome and easy process. Anonymous and mobile incident entry can certainly support these efforts.

In addition, the right technology will allow employees to report near misses and hazards before they even result in injuries. While this may not improve the formal OSHA reporting process, it could actually reduce the need for reporting in general—which really is the ultimate goal.

It’s debatable whether employers will actually have to meet the electronic reporting requirements by July 2017, as projected. Such dates are often moving targets. However, it is clear these changes are coming. Don’t despair. With the right risk, insurance and claims technology, you can manage through these changes while accomplishing so much more within your program as well.