The forms, which are required for employers to use in recording injuries and illnesses, have changed in several important ways for 2004.
Foremost among the changes is the addition of an occupational hearing loss column. Other changes include:
- "days away from work" column now comes before the days "on job transfer or restriction;"
- more clear formulas for calculating incidence rates
- new recording criteria for occupational hearing loss in the "Overview" section;
- more prominent column heading "Classify the Case" to make it clear that employers should mark only one selection among the four columns offered.
These changes were made in response to public suggestions on making the forms easier to use.
Employers must begin to use the new OSHA Form 300 on January 1, 2004. The new form has the date of revision (rev. 1/2004) located on the form next to the form number.
Injuries and illnesses for years prior to 2004 should continue to be recorded on the appropriate form for that year (i.e., 2003 and 2002 injuries and illnesses should be recorded on the forms for those years). . Additionally, employers should use the old OSHA 300A Summary Form (without the hearing loss column) to post as required in February 2004. The new 300A form that includes the hearing loss column should be used to post in February 2005.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Announces Historic Drop in Workplace Fatalities
The number of workplace fatalities fell by more than six percent in 2002 to the lowest level ever recorded, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS' Sept. 17 announcement also highlighted an all-time low in the fatality rate - 4.0 fatal work injuries per 100,000 workers during the same year. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said in a statement that the report was "good news for America and demonstrates the Administration's strong commitment to workplace safety." OSHA Administrator John Henshaw echoed those sentiments saying, "...there is no greater reward than knowing that our efforts are helping to save lives."
Survey Finds 60% of Employers Recognize High Cost of Off-the-Job Injuries
Nearly 60% of corporate safety and health professionals believe that the costs of injuries that occur away from work are equal to or greater than the cost of work-related injuries. However, nearly 45% of companies do not offer any kind of off-the-job safety program. These are two of the findings of a web-based survey, conducted by the National Safety Council, to determine opinions about off-the-job safety issues.
"Businesses have a vested interest in the safety and health of their employees at work and away from work," said Alan McMillan, President of the National Safety Council. "Employers pay many of the costs associated with medical care, insurance and lost productivity resulting from injuries suffered by employees and their families. Business leaders must recognize that profitability and competitiveness are being affected by these costs."
"As a nation, we have made significant progress in reducing injuries and deaths that occur on the job," McMillan explained. "However, more than 80% of the 20.4 million disabling injuries, and 95% of the 99,500 unintentional injury deaths, suffered in the U.S. last year were unrelated to work. We must take the same focus and intensity that we have applied to workplace safety and apply them to injury prevention in our homes, communities and motor vehicles. This survey indicates that while a majority of employers may recognize the problem of off-the-job injuries, most are not taking action to alleviate it."
More than 40% of the survey's 1,300 respondents said that the costs of off-the-job injuries are greater than the cost of injuries incurred at work, and an additional 20% believe the costs are equal. However, the survey found that only 25% of respondents' companies keep records on off-the-job injuries. Just one-third of those that keep records track injuries of employees' dependents.
More than half of the respondents said their company offered some promotion of off-the-job safety, but nearly 45% said their companies offered no off-the-job information of any kind. Among the areas respondents indicated may be of interest for off-the-job safety information and education are motor vehicle safety, falls, burns, overexertion and sports injuries.
In addition, 40% of respondents reported that their companies deliver some form of health education. These programs included smoking cessation (36% of respondents), fitness training (35%), stress management (34%), and weight management (27%).
OSHA Reminds Employers of Prohibition for Young Workers to Operate Forklifts
Federal regulations prohibit most workers in non-agricultural employment under the age of 18 from operating forklifts.
"Young people are more likely to be injured in the workplace due to their lack of experience and maturity," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "This bulletin is one way to remind employers of the standards that are in place to protect working teens from being seriously injured or killed. Nearly 70 teens lose their lives in workplace accidents each year."
"The restrictions on youth employment are designed to provide young workers with safe and positive early work experiences," said Tammy D. McCutchen, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "Employers must understand and comply with these laws to prevent serious occupational injuries and fatalities among youth. The bulletin highlights the relevant restrictions on forklifts and provides employers with access to additional compliance information."
The new bulletin was developed jointly by OSHA and Wage and Hour to inform employers that the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers under the age of 18 from operating forklifts for non-agricultural operations. The bulletin also reminds employers OSHA's Powered Industrial Truck standard requires that forklift operators who are 18 or older must be trained and certified as competent to operate forklifts.
The bulletin cites two recent fatal forklift accidents that occurred in warehouses in Georgia and Massachusetts. Both operators were under 18 years of age.