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OSHA 300: Common Questions, COVID-19, and Potential Changes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires many employers with 11 or more employees to follow recordkeeping requirements, recording serious work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 Log. These recordkeeping requirements aim to collect work-related injury and illness data nationwide. OSHA uses this data to help understand the types of workplace incidents, including the industries where they occur. This data helps the agency improve its safety regulations, ensuring workers are safe at work.

This article will explore some common questions regarding the OSHA 300 recordkeeping requirements, including recording COVID-19 cases and potential changes coming to the rule in 2023.  

What Records are Required?

Covered employers must utilize the OSHA 301 Injury and Illness Incident Report or an equivalent form to investigate each incident in the workplace. This investigation form helps identify the details of the incident to determine whether the case is recordable or not. There must be a 301 Form or equivalent for each incident recorded on the OSHA 300 Log. Many employers utilize their own incident investigation form, but to be considered an equivalent form, the employer’s investigation report must contain the information found on OSHA’s 301 Form at a minimum. 

After an investigation form has been completed and the employer determines that a case is recordable, the incident must be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log. Recordable cases must be recorded within seven (7) days of the incident. The Log itself is a running total of all recordable cases at the establishment for the calendar year. Details such as the nature of the injury or illness and the number of days associated with time loss or work restriction for each case are identified on the Log. If an employer learns additional details after they add a case to the Log, they must update the Log to reflect the changes. 

At the end of the calendar year, employers must tally up the types of cases from the Log on the OSHA 300A Summary Form. The Summary Form doesn’t include the specifics of each case, only the total numbers of each type of case. Even if there are no recordable injuries or illnesses, covered employers must fill out this form. The Summary must also be certified by a company executive that all information on the form is complete and accurate. The previous year’s Summary Form must be posted in the workplace for all employees to see, such as on an employee bulletin board, from February 1 through April 30. This means that in 2023, the 2022 Summary must be posted. For workplaces with remote employees, the Summary must be posted wherever the employer virtually posts other required posters, such as an intranet. 

All records must be maintained for five years in addition to the current year’s records. This means that in 2023, employers must have accurate, updated records for 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Which Employers Are Exempt From Recordkeeping Requirements?

Employers with ten (10) or fewer employees (at all times) during the last calendar year are exempt from keeping OSHA records unless OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) informs the employer in writing that they must keep these records. Additionally, some lower-risk industries, such as schools, are exempt from the recordkeeping rules. 

However, all employers, regardless of size, must report any work-related incident that results in a fatality, in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees, an amputation, or a loss of an eye to their local OSHA office or state-run agency.

What if Employers Have More Than One Establishment? 

Employers must maintain OSHA 300 records for each establishment that is expected to be in operation for at least one year. An establishment is a single physical location where business is conducted, or operations are performed. Suppose an employee works in multiple locations or works remotely. In that case, the establishment is considered the office, terminal, or station that supervises the employee or serves as the base for work. 

What Needs to be Recorded?

Just because an employee seeks medical treatment does not mean the case is recordable on the OSHA 300 Log. Only serious work-related injuries and illnesses need to be recorded.

Recordable cases include:

  • Situations that require treatment beyond first-aid;
  • Cases that involve days away or restricted work;
  • When there is a loss of consciousness;
  • When there is a worker death;
  • If the worker sustains a needlestick injury;
  • When there is confirmed hearing loss; or
  • A healthcare provider diagnoses a significant illness.

Employers do not need to track minor first-aid injuries on the Log. First-aid is considered care administered immediately after the injury, often at the incident’s location. However, it can also include one-time, short-term treatment requiring little technology or training. Examples of first-aid include:

  • Cleaning minor wounds and applying bandages;
  • Removing debris from the eyes by flushing or a cotton swab, or the use of an eye patch;
  • Treating sprains and strains with hot or cold therapy, massage, and the use of slings; 
  • The use of non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen; and 
  • Immunizations such as tetanus shots.  

Using diagnostic procedures, such as X-rays, doesn’t make the case automatically recordable either. However, if a healthcare provider prescribes medications, even over-the-counter medications at prescription strength (e.g., 800 mg of ibuprofen instead of the 400 mg recommended on the box), or provides medical treatment beyond first-aid (e.g., stitches, chiropractic manipulation, applying a cast, or surgery), the case becomes recordable. 

Do COVID-19 Cases Need to be Recorded?

Although many employers have considerable experience maintaining their Logs, they may still have questions about recording COVID-19 cases. 

In 2020 OSHA updated its recordkeeping requirements to specify that COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording the case if:

  • The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5; and
  • The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria such as treatment beyond first aid, days away or restricted work, a loss of consciousness, death, or is diagnosed as a significant illness by a healthcare provider as outlined in 29 CFR 1904.7.
A case could also be recordable if the employee suffers a severe reaction to an employer-required COVID-19 vaccine and meets the recording criteria. 

Keep in mind that an employee being diagnosed with COVID-19 is not an automatic cause for recording the case on the Log. Employers only need to record work-related cases, such as an event or exposure in the work environment that either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition. The employer’s responsibility is to identify the event or situation that led to the employee exposure, such as several employees getting sick with COVID after working in the same area. 

Do Injuries That Occurred While Working From Home Need to be Recorded?

OSHA considers the employee’s home office part of their work environment, so injuries that occur while working remotely could be recordable. However, just like COVID-19 cases, the incident needs to meet the general recording criteria (i.e., treatment beyond first-aid, time loss, etc.) and be work-related. Questions the employer should ask when determining whether a case is recordable or not include:

  • Did the incident occur during paid work time?
  • Was the incident directly related to the employee’s work duties?
  • Does the case meet the general recording criteria?
An example of a case that would be recordable is one where the worker develops an occupational disease, such as carpal tunnel, that is directly related to their sitting at a computer all day. The worker has surgery to fix the issue, missing time from work. A case that would not be recordable would be an employee spraining their ankle while on a run during their lunch break. 

Electronic Reporting Requirements

As previously mentioned, employers that are required to keep OSHA 300 records must post the 2022 OSHA 300A Summary Form (summary of 2022’s Log) by February 1, 2023, in the workplace. In addition to these posting requirements, many establishments must also electronically submit their 300A Summary Forms to OSHA directly through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) by March 2, 2023

Establishments that must follow this electronic submission rule include high-risk workplaces with 20-249 employees and any workplace with 250 or more employees that are already required to keep OSHA records. High-risk workplaces are determined by the employer’s North American Industry Classification System code, often referred to as the NAICS codes. It’s important to note that employers involved in manufacturing are on this list. 

To determine if this rule applies to your workplace, you must first determine the establishment’s peak employment during the last calendar year. Each individual employed at the establishment at any time during the year counts as one employee. This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers. If the headcount is less than 250 but more than 20, you will need to check if your industry is on the NAICS high-risk industry list. 

Proposed Rule Changes

Employers may have heard that OSHA has proposed a new rule to amend the electronic reporting requirements. This proposal is slightly different from the rule proposed a few years ago that required all covered employers to submit all their OSHA 300 forms electronically. 

Under the current proposed rule, establishments with 20 or more employees in certain high-hazard industries would still be required to submit their 300A Summary Forms electronically. However, the rule would expand to require establishments with 100 or more employees in the highest-hazard industries to submit their 300 Log and 301 Forms in addition to their 300A Summary. But, the proposal also includes language to exempt establishments from any electronic submission if they have 250 or more employees and are not in a high-hazard industry. 
Changes to the rule could come as early as 2023. Archbright will continue monitoring the proposed OSHA 300 rule changes and alert members if requirements change.

How Can Employers Use the OSHA 300 Information?

Although recordkeeping requirements can feel like a burden or seem confusing, there are employer benefits to keeping accurate records. Combining the data collected with workers’ compensation claims costs and near-miss records allows employers to identify their facility’s safety and incident trends. Once employers understand what’s hurting their people and therefore impacting production and creating losses, they can make corrections to make the workplace safer and more efficient.

Archbright recommends looking for trends in specific departments, job tasks, and pieces of machinery, or even identifying the most common body parts that get injured. Once trends are identified, they should be shared with department heads and the employer’s Safety Committee, both of which can help develop targeted, data-driven safety improvements. We recognize employers have limited resources, whether that’s hours in a day or just money available for new equipment. So, safety improvements need to make sense and be impactful. Understanding your workplace’s injury data can help you figure out what needs to be fixed and where. Safety doesn't happen by accident – it comes from specific actions taken and implemented as a team, and analyzing your recordkeeping data is just one way to get there. 

What if I Need More Help?

Members can find several helpful OSHA 300-related tools in the mozzo Resource Library, including OSHA 300 Excel Recordkeeping Forms and the OSHA 300 FAQs, OSHA 300 microlearnings, and a recorded OSHA 300 Webinar in the mozzo Video Library. For employers who utilize Archbright’s Retro or ReClaim Services, OSHA 300 information on each claim is listed in the mozzo Claims Tracker. Eligible members who have questions about their unique workplace cases are encouraged to speak with an expert through the Safety Hotline or Advisor Chat on mozzo.

Employers that want more information about membership can contact info@Archbright.com.

Picture of Tiffany Knudsen

Tiffany Knudsen

Tiffany Knudsen is a Content Manager at Archbright, responsible for creating and reviewing all safety-related content. She joined Archbright in 2006 as a Safety & Loss Control Professional providing Archbright’s Retrospective Rating participants with financial analysis, workers’ compensation advice, and safety-related assistance. She teaches many safety-related classes, is a certified Instructor Trainer through Medic First Aid, and is the Medic First Aid Director for ASW. Tiffany is a certified Safety Management Specialist and has over twelve years of experience working as an EMT, Firefighter, and National EMT Instructor.