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Fed-OSHA Reverses Course, Requires CA Employers to Upload Forms 300A

Bryan Little, Farm Employers Labor Service

May 7, 2018

In a reversal of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s previous position, the agency declared on April 30 that employers covered by injury and illness recordkeeping requirements must upload data from their Forms 300A, “Annual Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses” on Fed OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA).  According to Fed-OSHA, employers who must now make electronic submissions must submit their 2017 Form 300A data by July 1, 2018.

While employers in most industries will not have to report this information if they never had more than 249 employees at any time in 2017, employers in “high hazard” industries (such as utilities, construction, manufacturing and agriculture) will have to participate in electronic 300A submissions if they employed as few as 20 employees on any day in 2017.

In 2016, Fed-OSHA adopted a new rule (effective January 1, 2017) to require certain employers under federal jurisdiction (i.e. not in a state-plan state like California) to electronically submit injury and illness information—including that found on OSHA Form 300A and OSHA Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses—directly to OSHA.

Since Fed-OSHA issued this rule, state-plan states (including California) were free to issue a rule conforming to the federal rule, adopt a different rule, or not adopt any rule as they chose.  The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which created Fed-OSHA, permitted states to create so-called “state programs” to cover employers in their states, with Fed-OSHA approving those plans.  Such plans must, at a minimum, have standards that are “at least as effective as” federal standards. California’s regulations and enforcement in many instances meet and exceed federal standards.

Many state-plan states, including California, have not yet adopted an injury and illness data submission rule, and it was widely expected that California employers would not have to participate in electronic data submission until Cal/OSHA adopted an electronic submission rule. (As of this writing, Cal/OSHA has not begun development of a rule.)  However, in the April 30 announcement, Fed-OSHA now says its initial guidance that employers in states that have not yet adopted an electronic-reporting requirement did not have to participate in federal reporting was incorrect.  Now, Fed-OSHA asserts that employers in state plan states must participate in federal reporting under ITA as if the employer was in a state under federal jurisdiction. Fed-OSHA also clarified that it does not intend state-plan state employers to retroactively submit data for 2016.

When Fed-OSHA proposed and finalized this rule, employer organizations expressed serious concern about the regulation, particularly its provision for public disclosure on Fed-OSHA’s website of injury and illness data.  Fed-OSHA contends this transparency will encourage employers to be safer; however, the data Fed-OSHA will report on its website will omit key facts like the circumstances of an injury (was the employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol?) or how many employees the employer has (making it impossible to get a sense of the overall quality of the employer’s safety efforts by making it impossible to gauge the rate of workplace injuries for that employer).

In the first quarter of every year in recent years, FELS has published in the FELS Newsletter a reminder to post OSHA 300A forms from February 1 through April 30 if the employer had at least 11 employees at any time in the prior year.  Now, an agricultural employer must furnish this data to the Fed-OSHA ITA if it employed 20 or more employees at any time in the prior year.

If you have questions, please contact FELS at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 800-753-9073.