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Top 3 OSHA Changes to Watch For in 2017

By Haley Bass | 01/18/2017

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is committed to keeping workers safe, so they continue to develop solutions that will protect employees from injury and illness. As an employer, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with any changes that OSHA makes to its standards.

Concentra makes it our business to help you succeed in your business. As work health experts, we keep an eye on any regulations that impact the health and safety of your workforce.

Here are the top 3 OSHA changes to watch for in 2017:

Final Rule on Electronically Submitting Injury and Illness Data

Effective January 1, 2017, this rule requires certain employers (companies with 250+ employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation, and companies with 20-249 employees in high-risk industries) to electronically submit their injury and illness data. This isn’t a different set of data, but the information they’re already recording on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms.

OSHA plans to post some of the submitted data on their website, hoping this new process will be an incentive for employers to focus more on safety in the workplace.

"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,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

OSHA will provide a secure website with three options for data submission:

  • Manually enter data into a webform
  • Upload a data file so users can process multiple establishments at one time
  • Transmit data electronically 

The website goes live in February.

The rule includes anti-retaliation provisions, which went into effect December 1, 2016. The provisions mostly affect your post-injury drug testing procedures, so make sure you’ve developed an appropriate plan with your HR or safety decision-making team.

Final Rule on Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazard Protections

To prevent worker deaths and injuries, this final rule updates the Walking-Working Surfaces standards to increase workplace protection from slip, trip, and fall hazards. It will also provide more consistency between general and construction industry standards.

Updates to the rule include:

  • Employers can select the fall protection system that works best for them (this includes personal fall protection systems, which have been allowed in construction since 1994)
  • Employers can use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level
  • Prohibited use of body belts as part of a personal fall arrest system
  • Required worker training on personal fall protection systems and fall equipment 

These new standards go into effect on January 17, 2017. OSHA estimates that they will prevent 29 fatalities and more than 5,842 injuries annually.

Potential Standard to Prevent Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance Settings

While no standard has been developed yet, OSHA has taken steps to address a Government Accountability Office report that the rate of workplace violence against employees providing healthcare and social assistance services is substantially higher than the private industry as a whole.

On December 6, OSHA issued a Request for Information asking for public comments on the extent and nature of workplace violence in the industry, as well as effective methods to prevent such violence. Comments and materials may be submitted electronically to www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or via mail, facsimile or hand delivery. The submission deadline is April 6, 2017.

OSHA has also scheduled a public meeting on January 10, 2017 to discuss strategies for reducing violence in these workplaces. Workers, employers, and other stakeholders are invited to describe their experiences with workplace violence and discuss solutions. The meeting will be held in Washington D.C. at the Department of Labor’s building. For more information, and to register to attend the meeting, visit this link.

Concentra will be keeping a close eye on any changes and updates from OSHA, so keep checking our website for further information, or contact your local Concentra representative.