The new Electronic Submission Rule will likely impact a majority of employers in the Limestone Industry. Most limestone fabricators and mills fall under the NAICS code of 327991, or Cut Stone and Stone Product Manufacturing, but any manufacturing business with an NAICS code which begins with a number between 31-33 and employs 20 -249 workers, will fall under these criteria. Even building suppliers may fall under this rule. If the Rule applies to your business, you must electronically submit your 2016 300 A Log (Summary) directly to OSHA via their web application (ITA). The deadline for 2016 is December 15, 2017.
And following, the deadline for 2017 record submissions is July 01, 2018. Each year thereafter, the deadline is March 02.
But as the Rule was riddled with endless delays, conflicting dates, and extremely inaccurate news articles, it’s entirely possible you may not know about it. Or you may have heard that it was overturned and thought no more of it. (At the same time this rule was beginning to be enacted, another recordkeeping rule was overturned, which added to the confusion for employers.) We wrote an article on this here.
What should you be doing right now?
- First see if you meet the requirements to submit.
- Double check your NAICS Code against the high-hazard industries, who employ 20 or more employees in “certain industries.” That list can be found here.
- Determine your highest number of employment for 2016. Include seasonal, contract, full and part time employees in that count. (Yes, you must count temporary workers if you oversee their day to day activities.)
- If you did employ 20 or more workers in 2016, and your NAICS code is on the list above, you qualify for submission for this and any subsequent year that you employ 20 or more workers.
- Begin cleaning up and revisiting your 300 Logs to ensure accuracy. (We have articles to help you with this, which are linked below.)
- You only need to submit the 300A (the summary form) to OSHA.
- Even if you did not have any work-related injuries or illnesses, you still need to enter that information. (Just as you do need to completely fill the form out each year, sign and post it with a “zero” (0) in each applicable area.)
- Go to OSHA’s ITA website and follow the directions to upload this information. (Reach out to me if you need assistance.)
- Enter that information by December 15, 2017.
What else does this Rule impact?
The Electronic Submission Rule also carries with it provisions to ensure there are not retaliatory programs in workplaces, such as incentive programs that reward employees for “no accidents” as well as drug testing used for the purpose of retaliation. These provisions are already in place and actively being enforced.
Review these areas by:
- Implementing a program that allows employees to report injuries, accidents, near misses and unsafe conditions. (If you walk into your company, does every worker know the chain of command for reporting these? Do you have a formal program in writing for this? If the answer is “no” to either of these, correct these areas.)
- Posting the OSHA Worker’s Rights Poster. (A free one can be found here.)
- Review your drug-free workplace program to ensure it meets state and federal requirements in training and policy.
Other areas to examine through 2017-2018
Understand the Costs:
In 2016, OSHA was granted the first increase in penalties in more than 20 years. That increase brought the agency up to speed with other agencies who get routine inflation increases. This increase represented a 78 percent raise in citation costs, taking “serious” and “other-than-serious” violations from a maximum of $7K, to over $12K and willful or repeat violations from a maximum of $70K to more than $120K. It’s also important to note that OSHA will be given an annual increase in these penalties due to inflation, which occurs in January of each year.
Before you fall off your chair over these hefty amounts, the citation amount is reduced typically for size of business, as well as “good faith effort” of the employer, meaning a safety program with updated or current documentation, training and hazard investigation shows good faith effort. You’ll get a reduction down for those factors in most cases, but the starting point is much higher than in previous years.
But do not expect the 60 percent negotiation and reduction in penalties after they are assessed that you’ve had in earlier years. The cost of the penalty is affixed when you receive your citations in the mail and it has already factored in the size of your business, as well as your good faith efforts of a current safety program. Most serious citation costs are now about $3K for a small to medium-sized business, with an average of 2.8 serious citations per inspection. (However, up to a third of OSHA inspections do not result in citations. If your safety program is up to date, training and documentation are current, you’ll fair better in that regard.)
Be Proactive, Not Reactive:
Use a proactive safety plan, rather than assume you have a safe workplace because you have limited injuries. Remember, accident records are “lagging indicators” — meaning that these only track unsafe events after the fact, when it’s usually resulted in a recordable injury. Instead, use risk assessments, and have a dedicated method that employees can report unsafe conditions and a written method to apply corrections and track them.
Many companies are just lucky with limited injuries, but have several unsafe conditions that may result in an accidents or injuries. Look at your facility with an eye for prevention. Follow OSHA’s updates by subscribing to the agency’s biweekly newsletter, QuickTakes. The current “Top Ten Frequently Cited” are areas you should know and evaluate your facility for similar hazards and violations. (Many of these pertain directly to the Limestone Industry.)
Clean up 300 Logs:
Evaluate their 300 Logs starting now. Ensure only recordables are listed that meet the reporting criteria and ensure that any that aren’t listed (perhaps those you’ve paid out of pocket, instead of via insurance) and meet the requirements are listed. Clean these up now so you’re ready to submit. See links at the bottom for guidance on this area.
Don’t Forget– Some Severe Injuries are Also Reportable Injuries:
The 2015 law changes require you to report any one in-patient hospitalization, amputation (of any sort), or loss of an eye within 24 hours, as well as fatalities within 8 hours. OSHA has been flooded with these reports since that change, resulting in inspections within a day of some facilities and others not closed and/or pending inspections many months later. But you must still report as required and also document these on the 300 Logs.
Watch Known Industry Risks:
In your industry– sound levels are high at planers, sawyers, cutters and grinding areas. A hearing conservation program is likely necessary for almost all with these types of equipment, including an 8-hour noise dosimeter test to gauge sound, followed by annual audiograms for affected employees, (which should be evaluated for hearing losses) as well as annual training, and a written program are vital for compliance. (Don’t forget a PPE program with an assessment and certification, to cover eye protection, heavy dust exposure, overhead objects and other issues, too. Document training as well.)
Follow the annual baseline hearing tests of workers closely. If any workers show a standard threshold shift (STS) by audiology testing, retest the workers and send to a medical doctor to see if there were errors or underlying conditions. If you do have STS, those ARE recordable injuries and must be noted on the 300 Logs, and checked “hearing loss” in the applicable area on the forms.
Silica Rules and Sandblasting:
In tests we’ve performed on Indiana limestone, silica was non-detect in air and bulk chemical samplings. (Whew!) However, many of you may fall under silica evaluations or the silica rule due to sandblasting. To avoid messy and costly silica requirements, start looking at it as, “abrasive blasting,” instead of sandblasting and explore other mediums to use. A comparison list is here on page 8 of this document.
Of these, don’t substitute products with other or worse hazards. Aluminum Oxide might be one of your best options for abrasive blasting, as it carries no heavy metal exposure and is chemically similar to sand performance in blasting. And unlike some plastic abrasives, aluminum oxide is not combustible. Or consider contracting this service with an outside vendor. (Reach out to me if you need a few references for that.)
Limestone Dust Exposure
Although free of silica detection, nuisance dust exposure at levels beyond permissible exposure limits is still found in dry cutting, sawing and sanding. This is a potential source of citation and has been historically an issue in compliance in your industry.
Minimize workers’ exposure by ventilation, or separation from other employees and/or other means. Implement a good housekeeping program. Have an air test to gauge this or at the minimum, protect workers through N-95 masks and a respirator program and other controls until such a test can be performed.
Post Your Log Summary:
Remember to post the 300A Summary from February 1- April 30th. That is still required as it has for several years. An inspection during that time must show the posted and signed 300A in an area that employees can view the Summary. Remember to ONLY post the summary (300 A), not the whole 300 Log or you may violate employee’s medical confidentiality. Posting the 300A is an easy way to stay compliant and avoid citations.
Keep 5 Years of Records:
Always have the previous 5 years of 300 Logs on file in the event an inspection or a severe injury occurs. Even if no recordable injuries occurred in any year, these must be filed out fully, with a zero (0) designating no recordable injuries and they must be signed by the highest officer in the company.
Report to Other Agencies if Requested:
Even in you are notified to report your 300 Logs to the BLS, you must still follow the Electronic Submission Rule under OSHA if it applies to your company. (The BLS or Bureau Labor Statistics, is a separate entity from OSHA.)
With the 300 Log data to access, as well as reports of severe injuries, OSHA can view the history of your facility and it may cause inspections that are swifter or more in-depth if your 300 Logs are replete with injuries. Keep current on new and pending laws with us, and stay proactive in your safety management.
Need help? Have questions? Reach out to us here.
Helpful links on filling out 300 Logs and pertinent information: