By | August 15, 2017

Here’s one for the record books.

With OSHA’s upcoming recordkeeping rules set to go into effect later this year, Sphera and EHS Daily Advisor surveyed more than 400 Environmental Health & Safety leaders to learn more about how prepared they think they are for the upcoming electronic incident and illness tracking requirements.

Encouragingly, 4 out of 5 respondents (79 percent) said they either “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that public exposure of workplace illnesses and injuries will encourage employers to improve workplace safety.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules, which initially were supposed to begin July 1 but have been pushed back until Dec. 1, will affect U.S. companies with more than 250 employees and smaller companies “with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.” OSHA has already opened the Injury Tracking Application portal for companies to begin logging incidents, and each record, according to OSHA, takes about 20 minutes to enter. It should be noted that near-misses are not included in the recordkeeping mandates.

That said, the vast majority of companies in our survey (77 percent) said near-misses are reported at their workplaces via verbal updates to supervisors at their organizations, while 57 percent said they are maintained on paper and 35 percent by in-house, web-based forms. Note that respondents could choose more than one option here.

Additionally, according to the OSHA rules, employers must initiate a “reasonable” procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses and “must not deter or discourage employees from reporting.”

But what does “reasonable” mean?

Companies have different interpretations, according to the Sphera-EHS Daily Advisor survey. Most (80 percent) of respondents said paper-based applications were “reasonable” while 59 percent said using a web-based form was also “reasonable” (again, respondents could choose all answers that were applicable here). However, just 1 out of 3 (36 percent) said mobile-based applications were “reasonable.”

While many companies still rely on paper-based safety records and common spreadsheet programs for incident tracking, the fact of the matter is organizations are at clear disadvantage in terms of safety if workers aren’t able to use mobile applications to track incidents and near-misses. The accuracy of their reporting will also be hindered if they have to rely on verbal accounts of events or near-events because the longer it takes to enter information into a program, or if the data is relayed second-hand, the more likely it is for the record to be incorrect or key information to be lost along the way.

With mobile solutions and proper incident recording software in place, companies are in a much better position to keep accurate records. With mobile applications, for instance, field workers can document incidents and near-misses on the spot. In terms of regulatory compliance, solutions such as the Sphera Incident Management software, can help companies use that safety-related data to generate predictive analytics to keep their workers safer on the job, which is the most important aspect of any Operational Risk initiative.

We invite you to learn more about what companies are thinking about the upcoming OSHA record-keeping rules by downloading the full survey results.