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What Employers Need to Know About OSHA Form 300

Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
Staff writer

Learn what OSHA Form 300 is and how it applies to your business.

  • OSHA Form 300 is an annual report of a company's work-related employee illnesses or injuries.
  • Most employers in low-hazard industries or with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from completing OSHA Form 300 requirements.
  • Every employer must report severe work-related injuries or illnesses to OSHA.
  • This article is for employers and HR managers who need to know what OSHA Form 300 is and how it applies to their business.

There are several federal and state organizations that govern how a business can operate and manage its employees. Although some are industry-specific, others apply to nearly all businesses – for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Violating the rules and regulations of OSHA can cost your business big bucks. It is important to understand what OSHA and Form 300 are and how they apply to your business.

What is OSHA?

OSHA is a federal regulatory agency that enforces the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to ensure safe and healthy workplaces. OSHA does this by providing outreach, training, education and assistance to private sector employers across the United States. Businesses should familiarize themselves with the expectations set forth by OSHA to maintain legal compliance.

Key takeaway: OSHA, an agency of the Department of Labor, enforces rules and regulations to ensure safe and healthy work environments.

What is OSHA Form 300?

One way businesses must comply with OSHA's recordkeeping requirements is by filling out OSHA Form 300. This is a log that employers use to record every reportable work-related employee injury or illness that occurs during the calendar year.

Alison Pearson, head of human resources at Hal Waldman and Associates, said the primary purpose of this document is to ensure that employers with known hazardous environments are taking the appropriate safety measures to limit accidents and transmission of illnesses.

The details employers need to record on Form 300 include the name and job role of the injured or ill employee, the date and location where the accident or illness occurred, and a description of the injury or illness.

"It is important to note that any small first-aid need, like a scratch, does not need to be recorded," Pearson told Business News Daily. "But anything that caused a loss of consciousness or a trip to the hospital should be recorded. Also, any kind of cancer or illness that is a direct result of breathing in harmful fumes, etc. should be recorded."

Employers or HR staff should accurately record the details of the workplace injury or illness on OSHA Form 300 as soon as possible. Documenting this incident information on the day it occurs (preferably within the hour) puts your organization in the best position to maintain compliance and avoid fines.

"Should there ever be a lawsuit or anything, having a log will protect everyone involved," Pearson said. "If it is discovered that companies are not properly filling out the OSHA 300 form, they could be fined some hefty amounts."  

Key takeaway: OSHA Form 300 is a log of all the work-related illnesses and injuries that a company's employees incurred in a given year. 

What are the OSHA Form 300 log requirements for employers?

There are several requirements for those who must file an OSHA 300 log, what types of occupational injuries and illnesses you must report, and how quickly you must file the form. Business owners should thoroughly understand the following reporting requirements and qualifications to maintain OSHA compliance.

Affected employers

If your business has more than 10 full-time employees or is in a high-hazard industry, you will most likely need to complete an OSHA 300 log.

"Due to low-risk factors, there are some exemptions to the rule, so, as with anything, check the current rules and regulations," said Jonathan Cohen, attorney and co-founder of Cohen & Winters. "If you are questioning whether or not you need an OSHA log, check with the current OSHA website or seek professional legal advice."  

Filing and reporting requirements

According to OSHA, all of these incidents must be reported on Form 300:

  • Any work-related fatality
  • Any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work or transfers to another job
  • Any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums
  • Any work-related incident involving needlesticks and other sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss, and tuberculosis (special recording criteria apply)

When a recordable workplace injury or illness occurs, it must be documented in the Form 300 log, as well as the Form 301 Incident Report, within seven days of the employer discovering the incident. As an employer, you also need to complete and post an OSHA 300A summary each year, which is a less specific account of work-related incidents.

Employers need to adhere to specific dates for posting OSHA documents. According to Jilian Dimitt, HR director at Optima Office, employers must post the previous year's reportable injuries and illnesses between Feb. 1 and April 30.

"When posting the document beginning Feb. 1, it is important that you do not show the names of the employees who suffered the injury or illness," Dimitt said. "You just want to show the injury [or] illness, whether there was lost time, light duty, etc. It is important that on May 1, you take the OSHA log down and keep it for your records."

Reporting severe injuries and illnesses

Every business, regardless of size or industry, must report severe injuries and illnesses to OSHA. You can do this by calling OSHA or your closest area office, or by filling out the online form.

OSHA requires all employers to report these severe events:

  • All fatalities that occur within 30 days of a work-related incident
  • All inpatient hospitalizations that occur within 24 hours of a work-related incident
  • All amputations that occur within 24 hours of a work-related incident
  • All losses of an eye that occur within 24 hours of a work-related incident

Note that employers must report work-related deaths within eight hours of discovering the incident, and report inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss within 24 hours of discovering the incident. 

It is essential for employers to accurately meet the OSHA Form 300 log, Form 301 and Form 300A annual summary requirements as outlined by OSHA. Keep all your OSHA forms on file for at least five years. Any business in violation of these rules is at risk of hefty fines or legal action.

"OSHA 300 is not something to be taken lightly," Cohen said. "Improper or late reporting can lead to serious fines. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules, regulations and exemptions. If you have any questions, seek legal advice."

Key takeaway: Most businesses in high-risk industries or with more than 10 employees must report work-related injuries and illnesses on OSHA Form 300.

How to properly fill out the OSHA Form 300 log

All affected employers must complete Form 300 once a year, whether they have had any recordable work-related injuries or illnesses or not. You should report an incident within seven days of its occurrence (or sooner, if it falls within the severe injury category).

Follow these steps to fill out the log:

  1. Determine that the incident is reportable as defined by OSHA.
  2. Write down the injured or ill employee's name and job role.
  3. Record the date and location of the incident.
  4. Write a detailed description of the injury or illness.
  5. Record the most serious outcome associated with the incident to classify the case.
  6. Record how many days the employee was on restricted work, job transfer or away from work.
  7. Indicate whether the incident was an injury or illness.

In addition to Form 300, you need to complete Form 300A and 301. Since tracking these incidents can be time-consuming and must be done in compliance with reporting laws, Dimitt recommends that businesses have their workers' compensation carrier track all reportable injuries and compose the log.

"My best suggestion would be to reach out to your workers' comp carrier first and foremost and see if they will provide this service for you," she said. "If you have to do it yourself, fear not. Just follow the instructions online and you will be fine."

Key takeaway: You need to record detailed and accurate information about each work-related affliction on OSHA Form 300.

OSHA Form 300 log FAQs

Who is exempt from filing OSHA 300 logs?

Although many organizations need to keep an accurate account of injuries and illnesses on OSHA Form 300, some types of businesses are exempt or partially exempt from OSHA's recordkeeping requirements. For example, employers that had 10 or fewer employees for the entire previous calendar year don't need to complete this form. Low-hazard industries (as identified by the North American Industry Classification System) are also exempt.

Remember, even if you are exempt from the standard OSHA Form 300, you are still responsible for reporting any severe work-related injury or illness that results in a death, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

What is the difference between OSHA Form 300 and Form 300A?

OSHA Form 300 is the log of work-related injuries and illnesses. This log includes identifying information about the injured employee, a description of the incident and classification of the injury. The employer updates the log throughout the year and must complete it annually, even for years when no work-related incidents occurred.

OSHA Form 300A is a less specific version of Form 300. Instead of listing confidential employee information, it is a summary of the work-related injuries and illnesses that occurred throughout the year. It does not include injured employees' names, but it must include a signed affidavit from a company executive. This form must be posted each year, even if no work-related incidents occur.

What are the penalties for failing to maintain an OSHA Form 300 log?

Employers who fail to maintain complete and accurate OSHA Form 300 logs are at risk of serious fines – up to $8,000 for each year of noncompliance – and penalties. Additionally, employers who put inaccurate information on OSHA Form 301 may face up to $7,000 in fines.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Skye Schooley
Skye Schooley
Business News Daily Staff
See Skye Schooley's Profile
Skye Schooley is an Arizona native, based in New York City. She received a business communication degree from Arizona State University and spent a few years traveling internationally, before finally settling down in the greater New York City area. She currently writes for business.com and Business News Daily, primarily contributing articles about business technology and the workplace, and reviewing categories such as remote PC access software, collection agencies, background check services, web hosting, reputation management services, cloud storage, and website design software and services.