As an employment law firm in South Carolina, our attorneys frequently handle complex cases involving the health and safety of employees in the workplace. OSHA (the Occupational Safety & Health Administration) was created by Congress in 1970 to assure safe working conditions and to enforce standards and provide training, outreach, education, and assistance. OSHA covers most private employers and their workers as well as some public sector employers. Rather than submitting to federal oversight by OSHA, South Carolina has its own OSHA plan operated by SC OSHA as part of the SC Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.
SC OSHA covers private sector, state, and local government workplaces exclusively in SC with the exception of several specific workplaces, including maritime employment, including shipyards, marine terminals, and long shoring; military bases, and some agricultural establishments. Federal OSHA covers the issues not covered by SC OSHA and can still change or revoke occupational health and safety standards and monitors SC’s state plan.
Changes to OSHA’s Tracking and Record-Keeping Requirements
OSHA requires many employers to keep a record of injuries and illnesses to identify hazards, fix problems, and prevent future illnesses and injuries at workplaces. Currently, little to no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers is made public or available to OSHA. Under a new OSHA rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that OSHA will post online. This data is already required to be sent to OSHA.
Under the new rule, all businesses with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the record-keeping regulation must electronically submit injury and illness forms to OSHA using specific forms. The employer must also have a procedure in place for reporting work-related injuries that won’t discourage employees from reporting injuries. The new requirements take place on August 10, 2016, with phased-in data submissions beginning in 2017.
How Will OSHA’s New Rule Affect SC Businesses in South Carolina?
Because South Carolina has its own OSHA program that covers many SC businesses, South Carolina must enact legislation to accomplish the same reporting and tracking goals. Although SC is proposing new legislation concerning SC OSHA reporting, posting the results of the reporting online is not currently being proposed. State legislation is expected to be introduced in January 2017, approved, and rolled out beginning in 2018.
If you operate a business in South Carolina and are currently required to report injuries or illnesses occurring in your workplace to OSHA or SC OSHA, contact our law firm for a consultation with our experienced employment lawyers to discuss how to make your workplace healthier and safer as these new regulations become law.