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OSHA's New Webtool for Recordkeeping


If you have a workplace incident and you are questioning whether it's an OSHA recordable, OSHA has developed a website with an easy yes/no question system to help you figure it out.  Some details on how it works are below as well as here

And please, if an injured worker is bleeding badly, unconscious, or has an obviously serious injury, please call 911 and apply first aid prior to seeing if it is OSHA recordable.

If you want to read any of our other blog posts about OSHA regulations, preventing OSHA visits, and OSHA 300 recordkeeping, they're available here:

Construction Risk Blog OSHA Posts

osha record keeping

New Web tool helps employers understand OSHA recordkeeping rules

The OSHA Recordkeeping Adviser is a new Web tool that helps employers understand their responsibilities to report and record work-related injuries and illnesses under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulations. A set of questions assists in determining quickly whether an injury or illness is work-related, whether it needs to be recorded and which provisions of the regulations apply.

More Info From OSHA's Website:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor has developed this elaws Advisor to address the federal requirement to report and record work-related injuries and illnesses. The OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor is intended to help determine:

  • Whether an injury or illness (or related event) is work-related
  • Whether an event or exposure at home or on travel is work-related
  • Whether an exception applies to the injury or illness
  • Whether a work-related injury or illness needs to be recorded
  • Which provisions of the regulations apply when recording a work-related case

The OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor presents questions and relies on responses to determine the appropriate course of action. The Advisor does not store any information. If the Advisor does not address the circumstances of a particular case, please contact OSHA or obtain expert advice.

Some employers may be exempt from OSHA’s recordkeeping rules, for example those with 10 or fewer employees during the previous calendar year and those classified in specific industries. If you are unsure whether your company or business is covered by the requirements, please see, OSHA’s regulations at 29 CFR 1904.1, Partial exemption for employers with 10 or fewer employees; 29 CFR 1904.2, Partial exemption for establishments in certain industries; and 29 CFR 1904.3, Keeping records for more than one agency; and Appendix A (the list of industries). Employers in States with OSHA-approved State plans should contact their States for information on State-specific exemptions. In addition, public sector employers in these States are subject to State recordkeeping regulations.

While using this Advisor, please remember that you should treat incidents such as any cut, laceration, needlestick, splash with bodily fluid, or exposure to tuberculosis as an injury or illness. (The Advisor addresses “privacy concern cases” as needed.) Furthermore, a Standard Threshold Shift (STS) in hearing in one or both ears, any significant diagnosed injuries and illnesses, and cases involving medical removal under an OSHA standard should be considered injuries or illnesses for the purposes of this Advisor.

The OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor is written in plain language and intended to assist employers, especially small business employers, in understanding their recordkeeping requirements under OSHA regulations. It is not, however, a substitute for the OSHA Recordkeeping Rules 29 CFR 1904, the OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook or for the OSHA Recordkeeping Related Letters of Interpretation. For those who wish to read exact regulatory language, links are provided throughout the Advisor where appropriate.

OSHA: There’s a New Sheriff in Town – Part II


Part 1 Here

connecticut osha constructionSo, every day we hear of another construction site being visited by an OSHA inspector……all to review OSHA logs and data!   It appears this is number one on OSHA’s radar screen and could end up costing Connecticut contractors big bucks!

The two areas on the OSHA logs that it appears are being targeted are the Location and the Injury Description.   Although for many years, most everyone has merely used job numbers for the location, it appears that OSHA is looking for a lot more information.  An OSHA employee recently told us that area should be specific, i.e. 2nd floor of condo building, unit 22A, kitchen.   A little more than just job#C156!

More than likely your entries in the Injury Description area have been “broken ring finger” or “Burn to left hand”.  Again, OSHA is looking for much more a description then just the body part.  They want the when, how, etc.  An example would be “employee was securing light fixture in ceiling when slipped out of hand, striking and breaking finger”.   Pretty detailed, but at this point it looks like the more information you enter the less likely you are to be fined!

So, we suggest you beef up the information you enter and hopefully you will avoid the New Sheriff.  

Is Your Construction Company Misclassifying Workers?


connecticut employee misclassificationMost business owners know that independent contractors are less expensive to employ than employees.  Yet many companies pay independent contractors to do the exact same job, for the same number of hours as their regular employees.  The advantages to using independent contractors is that they typically cost less, have lower wages, payroll isn't contemplated for workers' compensation, no social security taxes, and state/federal taxes are not withheld.  Going this route, gives the contractor utilizing independent contractors a major advantage at bidding work because their base costs and overhead are substantially lower than a contractor that is playing by the rules.  The other loser in this scenario, is everyone that pays taxes.  Law abiding taxpayers are shouldering the load of income taxes and unemployment compensation taxes that unsavory contractors are passing on to them by intentionally misclassifying workers to save money.  The other potential loser is a 1099 contractor that is injured on the job and doesn't receive workers' compensation because they weren't an employee.

As you may have heard, the State of Connecticut is trying to close a hefty budget deficit.  One of the myriad solutions that has been offered is for the Department of Labor to step up enforcement on construction sites.  If you're the general contractor on a job, and one of your subs is improperly classifying their workers as independent contractors, the job can be shut down on the spot and the DoL can fine the owner of the job several hundred dollars a day; retroactive to every day the site was operating with misclassified workers.

Unfortunately for general contractors and job owners, when you get a certificate of insurance you can only see what lines of coverage are in force at the time the certificate was issued, and what limits are contained therein.  There is no way to tell how your subs' workers are being paid, or whether they are legitimately covered by workers' comp.  If one of your subs bids a job at a significantly lower cost than everyone else, that's your red flag that something is amiss.  Or they're just really bad at estimating.

The other potential way for a General Contractor to know whether their sub is misclassifying, is if on their certificate of insurance, the company is listed as a sole-proprietor.  As a sole-proprietor, the sole employee is not legally mandated to carry workers' compensation. Until they have someone helping them on the job site.  Even for a day.  So now, it's your job or your foreman's job to make sure that this sole proprietor is performing 100% of the work in their contract by themselves, with no outside helpers.  If the Department of Labor shows up on your site, and finds a sole proprietor and his helper performing work is a perfect example of why a site could be shut down.  It could have looked more cost effective during the bidding process, but the fines and work stoppage will be significantly more costly to the GC and the owner than hiring a contractor on the up and up would have been.


To learn more, check out this exciting 108 page report from the Department of the Treasury and the IRS

More reading on Misclassification law enforcement that is Connecticut Specific

OSHA: "There's a New Sheriff in Town"


hilda solis, OSHA"There's a New Sheriff in Town"was the statement made by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis  as she commented on the new commitment to worker safety and health.  OSHA is increasing its emphasis on enforcement, proposing new changes and employers better get on board or be prepared to pay the fines!

The first step we have seen is the increased activity on reviewing contractor’sosha300 log OSHA logs. If the recordkeeping isn’t being done properly they aren’t hesitating to enforce fines.  Unfortunately just following the directions on the OSHA site isn’t necessarily fulfilling the requirements, at least not in the eyes of the inspectors.

OSHA has proposed ergonomic recordkeeping requirements (yes, again). The proposal is to add the MSD injury column, as they attempted to once before.  However, this time if the proposal goes through and you have an MSD injury on your log you had better also have a company ergonomics program in place as this will likely be a requirement.  Without the ergonomics program where one is determined to be needed, employers may face “serious” or “willful” citations.  No final decision has been made on this change to recordkeeping requirements but we suspect it’ll be coming in the first quarter of 2011.

Another proposal is that the fines levied on Connecticut contractors may be on the increase!   Fines haven’t been increased in over 30 years and there is a bill pending that would increase the maximum “serious” penalty from $7,000 to $12,500 and the maximum “willful” penalty from $70,000 to $250,000! Aside, from the pain in your wallet, consider what this could do to your Risk Profile next time your Connecticut construction insurance renews!

List of Top 10 Citations for Contractors

So, where do you start?   All jobs and jobsites should have JHAs (download the OSHA Job Hazard Analysis) performed regularly.  This will provide information to you as an employer of where MSD injuries might occur (as well as all other types of injuries) and will give you a “heads up” of where programs and additional training may need to be established.  The more programs and training you have in place, the less likely you are to have a recordable incident!  Better to invest your company dollars in these then paying substantial fines to OSHA!

Stay tuned….we’ll be updating you more in the coming months on the “New Sheriff”!

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