This year time of year is fraught enough for HR managers between managing time off requests for Thanksgiving and preparing pay.
This is without the burden of new regulations to adhere to.
2016 has been a busy year for HR compliance departments. There was the introduction of new overtime rules, then the law covering paid sick leave for federal contractors and then states such as New York, California, and Washington D.C approved legislation to raise the state minimum wage.
Now, despite a number of lawsuits, the _Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses _regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will come into effect on December 1st.
OSHA regulation requires companies to electronically submit injury and illness data
This new OSHA regulation, which originally became effective on August 1st, requires companies to electronically submit injury and illness data.
The rules differ slightly for small businesses and enterprises:
- Companies with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit their 2016 Form 300A (annual summary of illness and injury) by July 1, 2017. From 2019 onwards this date will change to March 2.
- Companies with 250 or more employees in relevant industries must also submit the 2017 forms 300A, 300 (log of incidents), and 301 (incident report) by July 1, 2018.
Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, explains the reasoning: “Our new rule will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent work injuries to show investors, job seekers, customers and the public they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target compliance assistance and enforcement resources, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”
What are the Challenges?
According to Gary Vegh, senior environmental toxicologist at ERA Environmental Management Solutions, the biggest compliance issue with the new regulations is the challenges associated with submission.
“Businesses essentially have two options for submission: use the OSHA website or have software which interacts with the backend of the OSHA database,” says Vegh.
“The problem with the first option is that OSHA has not released the website yet. There is a scenario that plays out where they release it extremely close to the July 1st and March 2nd deadlines, which will likely result in many businesses being unprepared or non compliant. The more employees at a facility, the harder it is to file.”
Kamil, says that the biggest challenge for small businesses will be collecting all illnesses and sick records from the previous years and converting them to the electronic forms in a CSV format that is accepted by OSHA.
“Many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses,” says Kamil.
“The records must be maintained at the worksite for at least five years. Each February through April, employers must post a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded the previous year. OSHA hasn’t provided the final CSV data format yet, it is expected in February 2017, but employers need the sick and illnesses records to be ready by then.”
How HR Software Can Help Businesses Stay Compliant
Vegh believes that electronic reporting for the OSHA injury and illness reports comes down to a variety of factors that all relate to the accuracy and timeliness of the information being fed in and sent out by the HR department.
He says: “HR software helps with both of these components by increasing the quality of information filed to OSHA and by speeding up delivery. Alerts and notices are but one of the ways to achieve these improvements. Usually, sites that have more employees have harder times meeting the required reporting regulations. It’s hard for a handful of people in HR to manage thousands of employees. Accordingly, HR software allows for an increase in scope with relation to the overview and management of these situations.”
According to Anderson, the 21st century business landscape is defined by continually evolving, complex compliance regulations and that keeping up with these without the right HR solution is a real challenge.
“For many organizations, large and small alike, keeping up with these constant changes with inadequate technology is akin to hitting a moving target with a catapult,” he says.
HR Software to Manage OSHA Regulations
CakeHR puts more control in the hands of employees by providing a self-service portal that is accessible through a mobile app. This takes the burden off managers to check and record time off requests, improves efficiency, and reduces the likelihood of manual data entry error.
“Employees can request time off (vacation, conference, working from home, etc) or report a sick day through the portal,” says Lee Chapman, head of customer success at CakeHR.
“Once they submit this, the manager receives an email notification and can check how many days the employee has used and who else is off at the same time. Any changes are automatically updated in the system. This reduces the need for paperwork and manual entry into spreadsheets, where there is room for human error. This is important with the new OSHA regulations, as if data isn’t correct companies could receive penalties from the authorities.”
When it comes to these regulations, companies can create an illness report as a CSV file, export this, and upload it to the OSHA compliance website. It’s a matter of three clicks.”
Writer, researcher, editor and marketer specializing in technology (business and consumer facing), retail, marketing, manufacturing, theatre and culture.
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