Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Are you ready for OSHA’s new recordkeeping posting rules?

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By Paul Schlienz

Every restaurant operator knows it is essential to keep current on all U.S. Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules. What many restaurateurs may not know is that there will be a major change in OSHA’s posting rules starting on February 1.

Here’s the lowdown: OSHA’s recordkeeping standard requires all non-exempt employers to post their 300A summaries for each of their establishments for three months beginning on February 1.

OSHA reviewed its occupational injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting requirement standards, during 2014, and the revisions became effective last year. The revised rule on recordkeeping means a dramatic increase in employers’ reporting requirements.

Additionally, OSHA announced that information obtained from the new reporting requirements would be made public on OSHA’s website.

Unfortunately, many employers are not aware of all the changes to OSHA’s recordkeeping standards. Many employers assume that their OSHA recordkeeping logs and procedures are completely compliant, only to learn the hard way, following an OSHA inspection and sometimes after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, that they were not compliant after all.

“[The new rules] have significantly expanded the recordkeeping rule’s reach to hundreds of thousands of new employers and placed further burdens on employers to report additional workplace injuries and illnesses,” Kenneth Wayne Bullock II of Musch Hardt Kopf & Harr PC wrote in Lexology. “Since these new rules became effective… employers had little time to modify their practices and prepare for the coming wave of enforcement.”

Under OSHA’s prior rule, employers with 10 or fewer employees were exempt from maintaining OSHA 300, 301, and 300A records, tracking work-related injuries. Thousands of employers were exempted based on their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. Under the new rule, the list of exempted employers is based on North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Because of this change, many employers who were formerly exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements now must begin maintaining OSHA 300, 301, and 300A records.

“It is important that employers learn what their NAICS code is to determine whether they are now covered by the recordkeeping rule,” Mark A. Lies and Kerry M. Mohan, with the Seyfarth Shaw employment law firm, wrote in  Occupational Health & Safety. “If so, the employer will then have to count its number of employees to see whether it has 10 or fewer.”

With changes of this magnitude, it is essential for employers to familiarize themselves with the new rules. A good place to start is at OSHA’s own website.

Be prepared when February 1 comes around.