The 6 Most Common OSHA 300A Mistakes & How Not to Make Them Yourself

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: January 2nd, 2014
Topics: Recordkeeping |

You don’t need us to remind you that you have until Feb. 1 to prepare, certify and post your OSHA 300 A Annual Summaries for 2013. But what we can do to help you through the process is caution you against 6 common mistakes that lead to citations for violation of the OSHA recordkeeping rules (including Sec. 1904.32 of the Recordkeeping standard).

1. Not Preparing the Summary because There Were No Recordables

Preparation and certification of the OSHA 300-A Summary for 2013 (and every year, for that matter) is required even if you were fortunate enough not to have had any recordable cases at the company for the year.

2. Not Getting All the Necessary Signatures

The OSHA 300-A Summary must be signed not only by the person who prepared it but also certified by a “company executive.” Sometimes those 2 individuals are one and the same; but often they’re not.

3. Not Getting the Signature of the Appropriate “Executive”

The OSHA 300-A must be certified by a “company executive,” which includes:

  • The owner (if the company is a sole proprietorship or partnership);
  • A corporate officer;
  • The highest ranking company official working at the “establishment”; or
  • The immediate supervisor of the highest ranking company official working at the “establishment.”

4. Treating Certification as a Rubber Stamp

The executive who signs off on the 300-A must certify that in his/her “reasonable belief,” it’s complete and accurate. This is serious stuff. Falsely certifying a 300-A can result not only in fines to the company but also personal liability to the executive who signed the form, including criminal fines and imprisonment. And, given OSHA’s crackdown on underreporting, the liability threat posed by improper certification may be at an all-time high.

The Standard doesn’t go into specific details about how the certification process should work. But, according to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Handbook guidelines (scroll down 2/3 of the document to the discussion of 1904.32), to have the “reasonable belief” necessary to render a proper certification, the executive should at a minimum:

  • Be familiar with OSHA recordkeeping requirements;
  • Be familiar with the company’s recordkeeping practices and policies;
  • Read the Log and Summary;
  • Get assurance from the staff responsible for keeping the records that all OSHA and company requirements have been met; and
  • Spot check the OSHA 300 Log to ensure cases were entered correctly.

Click here for a Model Briefing you can use to inform your executive of the importance of proper OSHA 300-A certification

5. Posting the OSHA 300-A Electronically & Not in Hard-Copy

Sec. 1904.32(b)(5) requires you to post a copy of the OSHA 300-A in each establishment in a “conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted.” As noted in the Recordkeeping Handbook guidelines (scroll down 2/3 of the document to the discussion of 1904.32), posting the 300-A electronically is not enough to comply with posting requirements.

(Note: You are allowed to keep all recordkeeping forms, including the 300-A, on a computer as long as you can produce the data when you need it. But this doesn’t substitute for the need to post the 300-A in hard-copy at the establishment.)

6. Posting the OSHA 300 Logs

The only form you’re required to post is the OSHA 300-A summary. Posting the actual OSHA 300 logs is not only not required but likely to lead to citations since the logs may contain private information about employees’ injuries and illnesses that you’re required to keep confidential.

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