Home / From the Program Manager / The Importance of Recordkeeping

Q: What is the advantage to me for maintaining safety records? Can we be penalized for not keeping accurate safety records?

A: Keeping accurate safety records not only tracks injuries and illnesses as they occur at work, but information the recordkeeping forms can show is often illuminating. By analyzing records, management can spot trends in injuries and illnesses. These trends can often show an opportunity for safety enhancements—whether administrative or engineering controls—that can prevent future occurrences from happening. A company we consulted with did just that. By showing them how to trend incident data, they were able to identify problem areas, make necessary corrections and ultimately reduce their workplace DART and TRC rates.

Charlene Sitterly -- Program Director, USF SafetyFlorida

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. This includes accurate recordkeeping for businesses, as stated in 29 CFR 1904.

OSHA uses the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code to determine whether an employer must maintain safety records. Employers not exempt from keeping records must prepare and maintain records of work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 recordkeeping log and 301 incident report. Employers must record incidents within seven calendar days of receiving information that the recordable injury or illness has occurred. Furthermore, a summary of recordable incidents—OSHA’s form 300A—must be posted each year from February 1 through April 30 in a conspicuous place for employees to view.

OSHA takes recordkeeping seriously, and in 2009 it included recordkeeping as one of its national emphasis programs. In fact, employers who fail to document employee injuries and illnesses can be subject to a fine by OSHA enforcement. One example of this occurred this year, when a large energy company and five of its subsidiaries were fined $337,500 for 38 violations of not recording work-related injuries and illnesses in its OSHA 300 log.

If you’re unsure whether an incident should be classified as recordable or not, OSHA’s Recordkeeping Advisor can help. Launched this summer, the interactive tool helps users determine if an injury or illness is recordable based on responses entered by the user. The advisor tool is confidential and the system does not record or store any of the information.

We also offer an online safety tool called RecordKeeper, which creates all three of OSHA’s 300 forms when an incident is entered into the system. RecordKeeper’s wizard easily guides users through a series of screens, generating reports that can be saved, edited and printed. Its real-time information enables you to monitor your company’s safety performance—DART, TRC and Lost Workdays—and project whether it may lower your workers’ compensation modification rate.

For more information about recordkeeping, including access to OSHA’s 300 forms, click here.