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Being on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) list of the most hazardous industries means that construction companies have to be extra vigilant to ensure the safety of employees and jobsites. It also means that these companies have to be extra vigilant with incident recordkeeping and reporting to stay in compliance. Accordingly, tracking, recording and reporting workplace safety incidents is part of the daily operations at construction companies.

This summer, OSHA is expected to publish its final rule updating recordkeeping and reporting requirements. While we won’t know what the final rule looks like until it’s published, we can confidently guess that it won’t stray too far from the proposed rule issued in 2022.

That proposed rule would require companies with 100 or more employees in certain designated industries – construction included - to electronically submit their OSHA Forms 300, 301 and 300A once a year.

For construction companies with 20-99 employees, the proposed rule maintains existing requirements to electronically submit just their OSHA Form 300A annual summary once a year. 

In short, more construction companies will be submitting more reporting with more information provided to OSHA.

As a result, the regulator will have recordkeeping data showing what workplace injuries and illnesses are occurring and also how they are happening because of the proposed requirement of submitting 301A logs. 

Anytime there is a regulatory change, it takes extra diligence to make sure that your company stays in compliance with the new rules. Fortunately, technology can help with much of the burden. In fact, technology can help in many respects with workplace safety – not just compliance.

Efficient recordkeeping and reporting

The old adage about “the only constant is change”, applies to ever-evolving workplace regulations and standards. The new OHSA recordkeeping rules will surely not be the last changes the regulator makes, meaning that keeping up with OSHA compliance could be a full-time job within your organization. For most companies the responsibility of filing reports often lies with safety managers and/or human resources and can take valuable time out of their day.

Thankfully, OSHA recordkeeping can be relatively painless with a web-based application that auto populates data across all required forms, saving time and virtually eliminating filing mistakes. Some technology also provides real-time metrics for your organization’s DART rate, OSHA incident rate and lost time reports. Plus, a web-based program allows all stakeholders access to the same shared information for tracking purposes.

The data and access are important for internal purposes, to help prevent future injuries and incidents but it will also help you in the event of an OSHA inspection.

A company whose recordkeeping is thorough, organized and easily accessible may signal to an OSHA inspector that they take safety seriously and likely have other aspects of their operation buttoned-up as well.

Digital safety training

Safety training is another key component of a company’s safety program and is another area where technology can help.

It’s critical that employees are able to recognize safety hazards on job sites and know how to safely use certain machinery and tools. Regular safety training helps prevent workplace safety incidents and keeps you in compliance with OSHA regulations. However, traditional training methods can be inefficient and expensive.

Automated training platforms can take the place of live, onsite training classes or one-on-one instruction for new hires. These digital platforms can help track employee training requirements and ensure that safety messaging is delivered consistently to all team members. Managers can also include automated testing to verify that employees understand the training and are meeting the required standards.

A digital platform also allows safety and HR managers to tailor training by job function or department. This ensures that workers are trained on skills that are relevant to their specific role.

And finally, an automated systems means no more paper records that are often difficult to keep track of and find if necessary. All of the data on worker training can be housed in one convenient system that key staff have access to.

Job analysis and ergonomics

Having a physical job analysis for every position that exists in your organization is helpful for creating job descriptions, but also when determining the work-relatedness of a reportable injury or planning a return-to-work schedule following injury.

A job analysis should address the purpose and essential functions of the job, the physical, sensory and cognitive demands as well as environmental exposures and common tools and materials handled.

A web-based job analysis program will help companies by providing access to shared information to key stakeholders within the organization who can use the information in a variety of ways:

  • Determining whether a person can perform the job with reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Training employees to work safely and avoid injury.
  • Assessing if an injury is work-related or unlikely caused within the work environment.
  • Examining injured employees for fitness of duty (i.e., resume normal duties after an injury or perform light duty).

Which Software and Apps are Best?

As with any tool or program, safety apps and software aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all and many platforms cater to specific business needs. To ensure the best fit for your organization, it’s important to understand your unique business risks and safety goals when choosing specific products.

In an industry such as construction where the safety requirements and regulations are complex and extensive, company leaders might be well-served to seek expert help when evaluating software platforms. The wrong software won’t achieve what you need it to and may end up being more of a burden than a help, so you want to be sure to get it right.

On the other hand, an investment in the right digital solutions for your organization can pay dividends in everything from better safety data to inform new and safer practices, time saved on the administrative aspects related to safety reporting and training as well as compliance with regulatory requirements.

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of Construction Business Owner magazine. Visit https://www.constructionbusinessowner.com/technology/how-streamline-osha-recordkeeping-improve-safety to read more.

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.