Tag: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA | Revised Enforcement Guidance for COVID-19

OSHA Issues Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

This week, OSHA published revised guidance for employers on when they need to record the illness, of an employee who has contracted the Coronavirus, as a work-related illness for the purposes of OSHA’s work illness and injury recordkeeping requirements. Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness if:

  1. The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  2.  The case is work-related as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and
  3.  The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR § 1904.7.

Given the rate of infection and the ease with which the virus is transmitted, employers have found it particularly challenging to determine if an employee, who is diagnosed with COVID-19, contracted the virus at work. In making that determination, employers must make a “reasonable determination” of work-relatedness. In this guidance, OSHA outlines the criteria that Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) will utilize to evaluate if the employer met the “reasonable determination”, as required by the Regulations. Those criteria include:

  1. The reasonableness of the employer’s investigation into work-relatedness
  2. The evidence available to the employer at the time of the work-relatedness determination
  3. The evidence that the illness was contracted at work

The guidance highlights that employers can make limited inquires to employees about their exposure provided they respect the employee’s privacy and keep the medical inquiries limited to the COVID-19 transmission factors. Additionally, the guidance provides some examples of the types of evidence an employer may consider in making a work-relatedness determination. These include if the employee has come in contact or worked in close proximity with an individual who has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 or employees who have frequent contact with the public. However, employers can also consider if an employee has or had close contact outside of work with a family member or close friend who has a confirmed cased. In that instance, it may suggest that the illness is not work-related.

After conducting a reasonable investigation about work-relatedness, if the employer cannot make the determination that the employee’s illness is work-related, then they are not required to record the illness under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements.

If you require assistance with this guidance or any other human resources or compliance matters, be sure to contact the AAA for assistance.

Injury Tracking Application Update

This is a reminder for ambulance service providers that the deadline for submitting your OSHA Form 300A Injury Data electronically through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is March 2, 2020. All employers are required to electronically submit a summary of their workplace injuries to OSHA. The Form 300A Summary of Workplace Injuries is the same information that employers are required to post annually from February 1 through April 30 in all work locations. If you have not already done so, make sure you submit your information no later than March 2, 2020. This requirement applies to all employers in any state. Even if your state has an OSHA approved state-level workplace safety plan. If you need any assistance, please contact the AAA for guidance.

OSHA Injury Tracking Update

Earlier this week the AAA reminded its members of their obligation to post their 2018 injury data represented on the OSHA Form 300A in all work sites from February 1st through April 30th.  In addition, all EMS employers are required to report all injury data on the OSHA Injury Tracking Application (ITA).  Historically, all EMS employers were to electronically report the data represented on Form 300A.  However, larger employers (250 or more) also had to electronically submit the injury specific information from the Form 300 and Form 301 to the ITA.  OSHA announced yesterday that employers that larger employers will no longer be required to submit the information from Forms 300 and 301.  Citing privacy concerns, OSHA announced that employers of all sizes will only be required to submit the workplace injury summary information from Form 300A.

OSHA Reminder 2019

OSHA Injury Posting & Reporting of 2018 Injury Data

It is important that employers remember that they must post a copy of their OSHA Form 300A which is a summary of workplace injuries starting February 1, 2018 through April 30, 2018.  The OSHA Form 300A is a summary of all job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in an employer’s workplace during 2018.  If a company recorded no injuries or illnesses in 2018, the employer must enter “zero” on the total line. The form must be signed and certified by a company executive. The OSHA Form 300A Injury Summary must be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.  In addition to posting these reports in the workplace, covered employers should be electronically submitting their 2018 workplace injury data to OSHA via the Injury Tracking Application (ITA).  If members need assistance with the workplace posting or electronic injury reporting submission, contact the AAA.

2019 OSHA Penalty Adjustment

Also, a reminder to employers who are subject to OSHA or to those who operate in a state with an OSHA approved state level plan, the penalty amounts for OSHA violations are increasing effective the publication of the new rates in the Federal Register.  In accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the Department of Labor is required to adjust penalties for inflation each year. New penalties for willful and repeat violations are $132,598 per violation; serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements are $13,260 per violation; and failure to correct violations is $13,260 for each day the condition continues.  The new penalty details can be found in the OSHA Enforcement Section of their website.

Notice of Proposed Change to OSHA Injury Reporting

Notice of Proposed Change to OSHA Electronic Injury Reporting Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on July 27, 2018 that it has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would change the Electronic Injury Reporting Regulations (29 CFR Part 1904) for employers with 250 or more employees. OSHA is proposing this change due to a heightened concern that employee Personally Identifiable Information may be at risk of disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Currently, all EMS employers must submit their annual injury and illness data to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). Historically, employers were required to track all workplace injuries and illnesses and maintain records of those incidents in the workplace on the OSHA Form 300, 301, and 300A. Each year, employers are required to post a Summary of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses on the Form 300A from February 1st through April 30th.

In May 2016, OSHA amended the regulations requiring all employers to submit their Form 300A Summary electronically through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). Employers with 250 or more employees were required to electronically report all injury and illness data from Forms 300, 301, and 300A each year. Initially OSHA believed that the reporting of electronic injury data would encourage employers to focus on workplace safety because the summary of injury data would be published for public use.

OSHA is now concerned about disclosure of information on the Form 300 and 301, which contains a great deal of sensitive information, including the employee’s date of birth, injury type, and limited treatment information. There have been several instances in which organizations have sought this sensitive information by invoking the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition, OSHA stated that collecting this data costs the Department of Labor roughly nine (9) million dollars and places a substantial administrative burden on employers.

The Summary of Proposed Rulemaking is seeking comment on only the change to Part 1904.41 which requires employers with 250 or more employees to submit the data represented on Form 300 and 301. The proposed change would eliminate the requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to submit the information on those form, but they would still be required to report the Form 300A summary data. However, all employers are required to maintain records, and be able to produce the data on Form 300 and 301 for OSHA if requested. This also does not change an employer’s required Form 300A posting requirements from February 1st through April 30th.

OSHA also proposed a change to the regulations seeking to require employers to include the Employer Identification Number (EIN) when they electronically submit their Form 300A data on the ITA annually. This proposed change would allow the Department of Labor to reduce duplicative reporting of information because it would allow them to match data with information submitted through other Department agencies, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This proposed change would be a win for employers as it significantly reduces a great deal of administrative burden. Employers are encouraged to submit comments to these proposed changes by September 28, 2018. If members have any questions on what their current reporting obligations are under OSHA or how these proposed changes will affect their organizations, please contact Scott Moore at the AAA.

Submit your comments here. 

July Brings Legal Changes for Employers in Many States

Oregon Statewide Transit Tax

Important notice to ambulance service employers based in the state of Oregon: there is a new statewide transit tax taking effect on July 1, 2018. Beginning July 1st, employers must start withholding a tax of 1/10th of 1% from the wages of Oregon residents or from non-residents who perform services in Oregon. The Department of Revenue has published detailed information on the statewide tax with a list of available resources to assist employers with compliance.

Iowa Lowers Standard for Positive Alcohol Tests

Effective July 1, 2018, Iowa employers may lower their standard for taking employment action for positive alcohol tests from the old state standard of .04 to .02. Iowa has one of the strictest employment drug and alcohol testing requirements in the country. Employers are required to have a written policy that is distributed to all employees and job candidates for their review. Employers must establish a drug and alcohol awareness program alerting employees of the dangers of drug and alcohol use in the workplace, and most employees must be provided an option to enter a rehabilitation program instead of being disciplined. In addition, all supervisory staff must attend a two-hour initial drug and alcohol training and a one-hour annual refresher.

Rhode Island Paid Sick Leave

Rhode Island has followed a growing list of states and municipalities that have enacted paid sick leave for employers with 18 or more employees. In October, the Health and Safe Families and Workplaces Act was signed by Governor Gina Raimondo. The new paid sick leave law takes effect July 1, 2018. Under the new law, employees will accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours worked, up to a maximum of 24 hours in a calendar year in 2018. That rate will increase to 32 hours in 2019 and 40 hours in 2020.

Under the new law, employers must allow employees to use paid sick time for the employee’s or employee’s family members illness, injury, or health condition; when the employee’s workplace or child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency; or for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers cannot take adverse employment action against employees utilizing leave under this Act.

Employers need to prepare by amending any relevant paid time off policies, ensuring that there is an adequate mechanism for tracking the accrual and use of paid sick leave, and educating all management staff on the provisions of the new paid sick time law to ensure compliance. The new Sick Time Regulations provide additional compliance guidance.

Pay History Inquiries

Effective July 1, 2018, a new law in Vermont prohibits employers from making salary history inquiries from job candidates. Vermont joins several other states and municipalities that have enacted pay equity measures.

Joining the State of Vermont, the City of San Francisco has enacted a ban on asking job applicants about their salary or pay histories. The Parity in Pay Ordinance, signed by May Ed Lee, takes effect on July 1, 2018. The Ordinance bans employers, including City contractors and subcontractors, from considering current or past salaries in hiring candidates for employment. In addition, the Ordinance prohibits employers from asking job applicants about pay history or disclosing a current or former employee’s salary history without their authorization. A statewide ban on asking applicants about their pay histories took effect this past January.

It is recommended that employers in all states, whether legally prohibited or not, remove any reference on their job applications to an employee’s current or past wage/salary. In addition, employers should amend their pre-hire process to eliminate any pay history inquiries. This will provide employers with the best protections against allegations of pay discrimination claims.

Massachusetts Pay Equity

Back in August, 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act to Establish Pay Equity (MEPA) which takes effect on July 1, 2018. The new law is aimed at ending discrimination in the workplace by ensuring that individuals who perform “comparable” work earn competitive salaries. Additionally, the bill prohibits employers from making salary or wage history inquiries with job candidates and provides protections for employees to freely discuss their salaries with other employees.

The new law is aimed at preventing the perpetuation of past employer discriminatory pay practices by prohibiting the employer from basing a salary decision on the candidate’s current or past salary. Employers need to ensure that there are no inquiries on their employment applications or requested during the pre-hire process. Additionally, employers should amend any policies and procedures that might discourage employee discussions about wages.

Lastly, employers should perform a pay equity audit to identify potential wage disparities that may exist in their workplace. Employers who perform a good-faith, reasonable self-evaluation to identify pay disparities will be able to assert an affirmative defense to claims of violations of the Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued guidance and a pay equity toolkit to assist employers with compliance.

California Expands National Origin Discrimination Protections

Effective July 1, 2018, amendments to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) will expand the national origins protections for employer discriminatory practices for applicants and employees to include:

  1. physical, cultural, or linguistics characteristics associated with a national origin group;
  2. marriage to or association with persons of a national origin group;
  3. tribal affiliation;
  4. membership in, or in association with, an organization identified with or seeking to promote the interests of a national origin group;
  5. attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples, mosques, or other religious institutions generally used by persons of a national origin group; and
  6. name that is associated with a national origin group

The Regulations provide protections that include prohibitions on employees adopting “English only” language rules in the workplace, unless the restriction is justified by business necessity, narrowly tailored, and was meaningfully communicated to employees. Discrimination based on an employee’s accent, height and weight (unless job-related and consistent with business necessity), and immigration status.

2018 OSHA Electronic Injury Reporting Deadline

Last year we notified AAA members that they must begin electronically reporting their workplace injury data to OSHA starting December 1, 2017 for 2016. This is just a reminder to all employers that they must electronically report their 2017 workplace injury data through the OSHA Injury Tracking Application (ITA) no later than July 1, 2018. Previously, for employers who had state-level work injury provisions, OSHA did not require injury reporting until the state enacted the appropriate tools to collect the injury data. This has changed, as OSHA announced on April 30, 2018 that employers in states that have not completed the adoption of a state rule yet must also report their 2017 injury data through the OSHA ITA. If any member has not set up their account with OSHA on the ITA, we strongly suggest that you do so immediately. The AAA can assist members in ensuring that they are compliant with this reporting requirement.

Georgia Hands Free Law

Georgia has enacted the Hands-Free Georgia Act (House Bill 673) which becomes effective July 1, 2018. The law makes it illegal for all motor vehicle drivers to “physically hold or support, with any part of his/her body” a wireless device. In addition, drivers are prohibited from writing, sending, or reading any text-based communications, including instant messages, email, or internet data usage. The law requires that a driver utilize an earpiece or hands-free device for all purposes while driving and may not touch their device. This includes utilizing any device for navigational purposes, even while stopped at a traffic signal.

There are exceptions to the new law for reporting traffic accidents: medical emergencies, fires, criminal activity, or hazardous road conditions. The exceptions do include first responders, including EMS agencies during the performance of their official duties. I believe that it is important for agencies to provide very clear communications regarding mobile device usage. I strongly suggest that any employee guidance states that the use of hand-held devices be limited to what is required to facilitate or affect patient care. It is recommended that when the use of a device is necessary, the technician or dispatcher make the notification, provided it does not interfere with monitoring or providing direct care to the patient. For more information or guidance visit the Heads Up Georgia website.

South Dakota Data Breach Law

South Dakota has enacted a new Data Breach Notification Law (SB62) for any entity conducting business in South Dakota that has or retains computerized personal or protected information of South Dakota residents. The law has a very broad definition of personal information and includes “social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card or financial information, health information, identification numbers assigned by an employer for authentication purposes, username or email addresses with passwords, security questions, etc.”

The breach notification obligation attaches when the information holder reasonably believes that personal or protected information has been acquired by an unauthorized person. The law states that they must notify the affected individual within 60 days. Breaches affecting 250 or more individuals must also be reported to the South Dakota Attorney General. If the information holder reasonably believes that the breach will not likely result in harm to the affected individual, no disclosure is necessary provided they investigate and maintain documentation of the investigation for at least three years. Employers should review their data privacy policies and practices to ensure they comply with the new law.

Vermont Recreational Marijuana

Starting July 1, 2018, the State of Vermont has legalized recreational marijuana under a measure passed by the Vermont legislature (H.B. 511). The new law permits residents to grow and possesses up to one ounce of marijuana without facing criminal penalties. This law does not prohibit employers from having policies that prohibit marijuana use. The law also provides that employers do not have to accommodate the use or transportation of marijuana in the workplace. However, employers are advised to review their current workplace drug policies and practices to ensure that their practices are consistent with the new state law.

Vermont has a long-standing prohibition of random drug testing of employees, except when required or permitted under Federal law. Under Federal law, Federal contractors and grantees must maintain a drug-free workplace under the Drug Free Workplace Act. It is important that employers seek legal consultation if an employee notifies the employer that they are using marijuana for a condition that might qualify as a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Vermont Attorney General has published a Guide to Vermont’s Laws on Marijuana in the Workplace to assist employers with compliance.

OSHA Injury Reporting

Last year we notified AAA members that they must begin electronically reporting their workplace injury data to OSHA starting December 1, 2017 for 2016. This is just a reminder to all employers can begin electronically reporting their 2017 workplace injury data through the OSHA Injury Tracking Application (ITA). 2017 Injury Data must be submitted to OSHA no later than July 1, 2018. For employers in states that are covered by OSHA approved state level work injury regulations, OSHA has announced on April 30, 2018 that employers in states that have not completed the adoption of a state rule must also report their 2017 injury data through the OSHA ITA. If any member has not set up their account with OSHA on the ITA, we strongly suggest that you do so immediately. The AAA can assist members who need assistance ensuring they are compliant with this reporting requirement.

OSHA Updates & Reminders 2018

It is important that employers remember that they must post a copy of their OSHA Form 300A which is a summary of workplace injuries starting February 1, 2018 through April 30, 2018.  The OSHA Form 300A is a summary of all job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in an employer’s workplace during 2017.  If a company recorded no injuries or illnesses in 2018, the employer must enter “zero” on the total line. The form must be signed and certified by a company executive. The OSHA Form 300A Injury Summary must be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted.  In addition to posting these reports in the workplace, covered employers will have to electronically report their injury data on the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) by July 1, 2018.

Also, a reminder to employers who are subject to OSHA or to those who operate in a state with an OSHA approved state level plan, the penalty amounts for OSHA violations are increasing effective January 2, 2018.  In accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the Department of Labor is required to adjust penalties for inflation each year. New penalties for willful and repeat violations are $129,336 per violation; serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements are $12,934 per violation; and failure to correct violations is $12,934 for each day the condition continues.  The new penalty details can be found in the OSHA Enforcement Section of their website.

 

OSHA: Transportation-Related Incidents Top Workplace Fatality List

Yesterday, OSHA issued a statement regarding fatal occupational injuries in 2016. Transportation-related incidents were the most frequent cause of workplace fatality in the United States last year. While the biggest part of our services is providing highest-quality medical care to people in need, the safe transportation of patients and crews plays a significant role. As an industry, we should do everything we can to ensure that every provider goes home at the end of their shift.

Electronic Injury Deadline Now 12/31

This is an important reminder to all agencies who are required to electronically report their injury data to OSHA.  OSHA announced today that they are giving employers until midnight on December 31, 2017 to submit their injury data for 2016.  If you need assistance with submitting your injury data, please be sure to call or email the AAA.  We can assist you in making sure you meet the deadline.  As of January 1, 2018, employers will not be able to submit their 2016 injury data.

OSHA Electronic Injury Reporting Deadline Is Dec 15

Several months ago, we alerted AAA members that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had announced that it would further delay the deadline for employers to electronically file injury data until December 1, 2017.  With that deadline quickly approaching, we wanted to make sure that our members were prepared and reporting the data correctly.

OSHA announced in July that it will be launching the new electronic Injury Tracking Application (ITA) on August 1, 2017.  The new rules are an effort to “nudge” employers to improve safety in the workplace by publishing employee injury data, as reported by employers.  Electronic data reporting would give job candidates and employees the ability to compare potential employers and their safety records.  Currently, most employers are required to record injuries that occur in the workplace, but this data is not easily available to candidates or OSHA itself.  It is anticipated that employers can expect greater investigative and enforcement actions after electronic injury reporting begins.

Under the Old & New Rules

Every year, ambulance services with 10 or more employees are required to record all workplace injuries that involve medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work, restricted/transfer of duties, or loss of consciousness.  There are certain injuries that must be reported immediately to OSHA if they occur, workplace fatalities, hospitalization, loss of an eye, or an amputation.  The injury logs must be compiled and kept for five years.  Each year, employers are required to post a summary (Form 300A) of all workplace injuries in the workplace for from February 1 through April 30.

Currently, OSHA does not collect workplace injury information except through complaints from employees, onsite inspections, mandated reports of specific serious injuries, or through data collection from limited “high hazard” industries.  This new rule, will require that injury data reports be reported electronically to OSHA.  Many ambulance services already report this information electronically to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), who collects data on behalf of the Department of Labor but the employer specific information is not released publicly.  Under these new rules, employer injury data will be published.

Who Do These Rules Effect?

The electronic reporting requirements are based on the size of employer.  For the purposes of determining employer size, employers must count each individual employed at any time during the calendar year as one employee.  This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers.  All employers with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301.  Employers with 20-249 employees must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.

Important Reporting Note:

The information that must be reported is determined by “Establishment” size.  Often this is confused by employers as being their entire “Firm”, even if they have multiple locations.  It is important to understand that you should be reporting data by Establishment location.  There are times that an Establishment can include more than one location, if they are close in geographic location as defined by OSHA.

For example, if one ambulance service has a headquarters located in one town and a satellite ambulance station located 20 miles away, those would be two “Establishments” under the OSHA Regulations. The employer would assign each of their employees to a specific “establishment” for the purposes of reporting.

In our industry, employees tend to work in multiple locations. For the purposes of ITA reporting, assign each to one. The employer would then count the number of employees (full time, part time, per diem, seasonal) at each location.  After totaling the employee count at each location, determine if their establishment size requires summary reporting or more detailed reporting.  For this year, only the summary data (Form 300A) needs to be reported for each establishment.

An employer could have a total of 400 employees working for their company but only must report the Form 300A information because those employees are evenly distributed amongst their eight separate “Establishments”.

Phase In

The new rules are being phased in by employer size.  In 2017, all employers, with 20 or more employees must report the information from OSHA Form 300A, which is the summary of all injury data by December 1, 2017.  By July 1, 2018, employers with 250 or more employees, will report all injury data from Forms 300, 300A, and 301 and employers with 20-249 employees will only report the data from the Form 300A.  Starting in 2019, all covered employers will have to report their 2018 injury information electronically by March, 2019.  Thereafter, all employers will report injury data electronically by March of each year.

Data Submission

OSHA has launched the Injury Tracking Application on August 1, 2017.  The electronic data submission process involves four steps:

  1. Creating an establishment (employer account);
  2. Adding 300A summary data;
  3. Submitting data to OSHA; and
  4. Reviewing the confirmation email.

The secure website offers three options for data submission. One option will enable users to manually enter data into a web form. Another option will give users the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. A third option will allow users of automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface (API).

OSHA states that the creation of the account in the electronic Injury Tracking Application (ITA) will only take employers about ten minutes.  After creating an account, OSHA predicts that it will take employers about ten minutes to report the data on Form 300A.  For large employers reporting also required to submit Form 300 and 301 information, OSHA is predicting it will take about 10 minutes per incident.

For those who are already reporting injury information to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) electronically, you will be required to report the information to OSHA also.  OSHA states that it is working on eliminating the duplicate reporting requirements but that until they do, employers will have to input data to both agencies.

Conclusion

Employers only have until this Friday, December 1, 2017 to submit their first set of injury data from 2016.  If AAA members are uncertain if they are tracking and reporting injury data appropriately or believe that they need assistance with this new requirement, be sure to contact the AAA for assistance, we can assist you with this required reporting.

OSHA to Launch Electronic Injury Reporting on August 1, 2017

A few weeks ago, we alerted AAA members that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had announced that it would further delay the deadline for employers to electronically file injury data.  The new rules, which require electronic injury data reporting were originally to take effect on July 1, 2017.  These rules were delayed until this December 1, 2017.  It was believed the requirements, an Obama administration initiative, might never see the light of day under the new administration.  However, OSHA announced Friday that all employers (ambulance providers) who employ twenty or more employees will be able to begin submitting electronic report injury data starting August 1, 2017.

OSHA announced Friday that it will be launching the new electronic Injury Tracking Application (ITA) on August 1, 2017.  The new rules are an effort to “nudge” employers to improve safety in the workplace by publishing employee injury data, as reported by employers.  Electronic data reporting would give job candidates and employees the ability to compare potential employers and their safety records.  Currently, most employers are required to record injuries that occur in the workplace, but this data is not easily available to candidates or OSHA itself.  It is anticipated that employers can expect greater investigative and enforcement actions after electronic injury reporting begins.

Under the Old & New Rules

Every year, ambulance services with 10 or more employees are required to record all workplace injuries that involve medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work, restricted/transfer of duties, or loss of consciousness.  There are certain injuries that must be reported immediately to OSHA if they occur, workplace fatalities, hospitalization, loss of an eye, or an amputation.  The injury logs must be compiled and kept for five years.  Each year, employers are required to post a summary (Form 300A) of all workplace injuries in the workplace for from February 1 through April 30.

Currently, OSHA does not collect workplace injury information except through complaints from employees, onsite inspections, mandated reports of specific serious injuries, or through data collection from limited “high hazard” industries.  This new rule, will require that injury data reports be reported electronically to OSHA.  Many ambulance services already report this information electronically to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), who collects data on behalf of the Department of Labor but the employer specific information is not released publicly.  Under these new rules, employer injury data will be published.

Who Do These Rules Effect?

The electronic reporting requirements are based on the size of employer.  For the purposes of determining employer size, employers must count each individual employed at any time during the calendar year as one employee.  This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers.  All employers with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must electronically submit to OSHA injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301.  Employers with 20-249 employees must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A only.

Phase In

The new rules are being phased in by employer size.  In 2017, all employers, with 20 or more employees must report the information from OSHA Form 300A, which is the summary of all injury data by December 1, 2017.  By July 1, 2018, employers with 250 or more employees, will report all injury data from Forms 300, 300A, and 301 and employers with 20-249 employees will only report the data from the Form 300A.  Starting in 2019, all covered employers will have to report their 2018 injury information electronically by March, 2019.  Thereafter, all employers will report injury data electronically by March of each year.

Data Submission

The electronic data submission process involves four steps:

  1. Creating an establishment (employer account);
  2. Adding 300A summary data;
  3. Submitting data to OSHA; and
  4. Reviewing the confirmation email.

The secure website offers three options for data submission. One option will enable users to manually enter data into a web form. Another option will give users the ability to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. A third option will allow users of automated recordkeeping systems to transmit data electronically via an application programming interface (API).

OSHA states that the creation of the account in the electronic Injury Tracking Application (ITA) will only take employers about ten minutes.  After creating an account, OSHA predicts that it will take employers about ten minutes to report the data on Form 300A.  For large employers reporting also required to submit Form 300 and 301 information, OSHA is predicting it will take about 10 minutes per incident.

For those who are already reporting injury information to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) electronically, you will be required to report the information to OSHA also.  OSHA states that it is working on eliminating the duplicate reporting requirements but that until they do, employers will have to input data to both agencies.

Conclusion

The new Injury Tracking Application (ITA) does not launch until August 1, 2017. Employers will have until December 1, 2017 to submit their first set of injury data from 2016.  If AAA members are uncertain if they are tracking and reporting injury data appropriately or believe that they need assistance with this new requirement, be sure to contact the AAA for assistance.  Members should look to the Daily Digest or the AAA website for further announcements regarding this or any employment regulatory change that will impact our members.

Electronic Injury and Illness Rules Delayed

As reported to members in late May, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced that Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) will further delay the implementation of the new Electronic Injury and Illness Rules that were scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017. The DOL announced today that they were further delaying the implementation until December 1, 2017. The DOL has stated that the delay is intended to give the agency “further review and consider the rule.”  We will continue to keep members posted of any pending changes to this or any DOL change.

OSHA Faces Further Delays in Electronic Reporting Rules

This past May, the AAA published an Advisory to members alerting them of the new OSHA electronic injury reporting requirements for employers that were set to start this past August.  According to OSHA’s announcement, the rule was intended to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”.  The new rules provided that certain employers would have to electronically submit their 300 or 300A employer injury data to OSHA.  OSHA stated that it would post the data on it’s website as a mechanism to “nudge” employers to provide the safest workplaces that they can.

These new rules also included anti-retaliation provisions required that employers have reasonable procedures for employees to report injuries.  They also provided that employers could not have any practices or procedures that would discourage employees from reporting injuries.  The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) announced last June that they would be delaying the implementation of the anti-retaliation requirements until November 1, 2016 because they wanted to have more time to “perform education and outreach.”  Those provisions were further delayed but went into effect this past December.

With the July deadline looming for electronic submission, there was little indication that OSHA had developed the electronic submission portal for employers to utilize in submitting their 300A or 300 injury information.  Last week, OSHA announced , by updating their website that it would delay the electronic injury reporting and did not indicate a possible implementation date.  There are several lawsuits on behalf of employer groups that are alleging that employers could be unintentionally harmed by the public disclosure of work injury information.  There is speculation that OSHA is awaiting the outcome of those legal actions or that the change of administrations has refocused OSHA’s efforts elsewhere.

The AAA will continue to monitor the agency’s website and will notify members if there is an update on this or any other regulatory issue.

HR Wrap-Up: A Look Back at 2016

As we wind up 2016 I thought it would be a good idea to review the year’s human resource and legal developments to ensure that our members are compliant and prepared for what faces them in 2017.  We knew that this was going to be an interesting year as we experienced the most unusual Presidential Election in our history.  It overshadowed everything else that occurred in 2016.  As the Obama administration comes to its final days, employers and ambulance providers saw some of the most sweeping regulatory changes.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The biggest change facing employers in 2016 was the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime changes.  The Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated regulations which were to become effective December 1, 2016, raising the minimum salary thresholds for the so called “white collar” exemptions.  Under the new regulations, the minimum salary would increase from $455 to $970 per week.  For those employees earning under the new amount, employers would need to decide if they are going to raise the salary level or pay the employee overtime for hours worked over 40 in one week.  The changes have not gone into effect yet as a 5th Circuit Judge issued an injunction on the implementation of the new Regulations until the question of their legality is determined.

Most employees in the ambulance industry are hourly paid employees and the Regulatory changes are will not affect their overtime eligibility.  However, ambulance providers should take these changes as an opportunity to evaluate each position within their organization and ensure that any exempt position is appropriately classified.

Civil Penalty Changes

This past August the Department Of Labor published two interim final rules that adjusted the penalties for enforcement actions by several of its agencies.  The penalties increased because Congress passed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act in 2015 last November with the intent of improving the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and hopes of maintaining their deterring effect.  Many agency penalties had not been adjusted since 1990.

The new penalties will only be applicable to penalties assessed after August 1, 2016 for violation that occurred after November 2, 2015.  The DOL posted a chart detailing all of the penalty increases.

Posting Changes

Many of the mandated employer postings also experienced a change this year as a result of the FLSA Regulation updates and because of the Civil Penalty increases.  Employers need to be sure to update the required Federal employment postings in their workplaces.  The new postings are available on the Department of Labor’s website free of charge.  Alternatively, many employers purchase the all-in-one combination Federal and State posters from third party vendors.  Whether obtained from the DOL or from a vendor, the postings need to be updated to reflect these new changes.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The required FLSA posting will reflect the change to the classification of employees, requirements for nursing mothers, and updated enforcement section.  The new posting also removes the prior reference to a specific penalty amount as the penalties will adjust at regular intervals under the penalty adjustment changes.

Occupational Health & Safety Act (OSHA)

In May, the AAA published an advisory notifying members about upcoming changes to the reporting requirements under OSHA, including provisions regarding the notification to employees of non-retaliation for those who file work injury or illness claims.  The non-retaliation notice provisions became effective November 1, 2016.  The new OSHA posting reflects the notice to employees regarding the non-retaliation provisions.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (APPA)

Like the FLSA posting, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) posting has changed to reflect the removal of a specific penalty amount.  The new EPPA posting can be found on the DOL’s website.

Transgender

One of the more active debates during the end of 2015 and for most of 2016 was an issue not directly related to employers but that had significant impacts on employers was the North Carolina House Bill 2.  HB 2 was sweeping legislation that required restroom and locker room facilities be utilized by individuals based upon the gender listed on their birth certificate.

In May, the Department of Justice filed a Civil Rights suit against the State of North Carolina and its Governor stating that the legislation was “state sanctioned discrimination” and was illegal.  After several legal challenges it appears that the legislation will be repealed by the new North Carolina administration.  Even without the repeal of the legislation employers were on notice that all Federal regulatory agencies included transgender rights as protected under Title VII and subject to the law.

This is notice to employers that they need to allow all employees to utilize the restrooms and changing facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.  The best practice for employers is to provide privacy for all individuals, whether or not they are in a gender specific facility.  This means that restroom and shower facilities should provide as much privacy as possible.  This could include installing privacy strips to restroom stalls, large partitions between urinals, and privacy curtains for showers.  Employers should not assume that individuals born the same gender are comfortable with or do not seek the same privacy in these setting as do individuals of different genders.  The message should be to respect the privacy of all individuals regardless of their gender or gender identity.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 1557 Rules

This past July new Regulations, which implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), became effective.  The provisions of Section 1557 build off of existing Title VII and other discrimination laws that extend protections to previously underserved or under-represented groups of people with regard to healthcare.  The new Regulations prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities.  In addition, the Regulations provide discrimination protections on the basis of pregnancy, gender identity, and sex stereotyping.  The Final Rule also requires that “covered entities” make available assistance for individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and those with disabilities, including communications related disabilities.

The new Regulations require that covered entities have a Compliance Coordinator and a Grievance Procedure.  The Compliance Coordinator is to monitor and coordinate compliance with the provisions of the Final Rule.  The Grievance Procedure has to provide the appropriate due process standards that would allow for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints concerning actions prohibited by Section 1557.  HHS has included a sample Grievance Procedure in Appendix C to Part 92—Sample Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act Grievance Procedure  to assist covered entities in meeting this requirement.

In addition, the Regulations require that all covered entities post notices assuring patients that the covered entity does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability and that auxiliary aides and services for individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and Communication related disabilities.  To alert these individuals, ambulance providers must post a notice regarding the availability of these aids and services in the top 15 languages spoken in the state of operation.

A Look Ahead to 2017

OSHA

Starting in 2017, employers will be required to electronically report work related injuries to OSHA.  The AAA posted information about this new requirement last week.  Employers should anticipate increased OSHA investigatory activity following this first year of injury reporting.  Currently, OSHA obtains the majority of their injury data from employee complaints or on site visits.  These new reporting requirements are intended to persuade employers to be more proactive with regard to workplace safety.  As we learn more about the tools OSHA will utilize to collect this information, we will notify members.

EEO-1 Pay Reporting

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract and Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have approved a new EEO-1 Form that will be used starting with the 2017 report, which will be due on March 31, 2018.  The new report requires private employers, including federal contractors and subcontractors, with 100 or more employees to submit summary pay data on the EEO-1 Form.  Federal contractors and subcontractors with 50-99 employees will not submit summary pay data but will continue to report demographic data (sex and race or ethnicity) on the EEO-1 as they did before.  Also, Federal contractors and subcontractors with 49 or fewer employees, and companies without federal contracts with 99 or fewer employees, will not be required to complete the EEO-1 report.  The goal is to remove the pay inequities amongst different protected classes.

Employers will have some time to make the necessary changes to their systems to ensure that their systems can collect and report this data.

Minimum Wage Increases

There are 21 states that are going to have a minimum wage increase in 2017.  While most of our industry pay rates are above the minimum wage amounts.  Services should check their state minimum wage to ensure that their mandated minimum wage pay and postings are up to date.

New Form I9

Just a reminder that employers will be required to use the new Form I9 for all employees hired on or after January 22, 2017.  The USCIS announced last month that it has updated the Form I9 and for employers to begin utilizing these forms no later than January 22, 2017.  For more information on the new Form I9, view the IRS Press Release announcement posted last month.

New W2 Reporting Requirements

Employers need to be aware that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has moved up the date that employers have to file their Form W2 with the IRS.  Previously, employers had until the end of February to file their Form W2s with the IRS.  Under the new deadline, employers must file all Form W2 by January 31, 2017.  The January 31st deadline has long applied to furnishing of the Form W2s to their employees.  For more details on the new filing deadline, read the IRS Announcement.

Signing Off for 2016

This has proven to be an incredibly busy year for all employers, including ambulance providers.  AAA Members should remember that there are numerous resources available through the AAA in the Member Area on the website, through AAA Staff and Consultants, and also with the hundreds of members who are all working together to care for the patients and communities we serve.  Do not face the challenges in your organization alone.  Your membership brings with it a great deal of tools and resources so that you can focus on providing your patient with outstanding service.  Happy New Year.

 

OSHA: New Electronic Injury Reporting Requirements

Last June the AAA notified its members that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be requiring employers to file workplace injury information electronically starting in January, 2017 for injury year 2016.  This new requirement applies to all ambulance services with 20 or more employees because they fit into the “high risk” category of jobs.  Employers with 20-249 will only be required to submit the summary data, those with 250 or more will be required to submit injury specific information.  OSHA will allow for several mechanisms for submitting this information through a secured website which is scheduled to go live in February 2017.  OSHA has provided additional information regarding the new reporting requirements on their website.  As more information becomes available, we will share it with our members.

OSHA Delays New Rules a Second Time

This past May, the AAA published an advisory to members alerting them of the new OSHA injury reporting requirements for employers starting this August 10, 2016.  The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) announced in June that they would be delaying the implementation of the new anti-retaliation requirements until November 1, 2016 because they wanted to have more time to “perform education and outreach.”  Yesterday the USDOL published an advisory stating it will further delay the implementation of the anti-retaliation provisions of the new rules because the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas has requested additional time to consider a motion challenging the new provisions.

The motion being considered by the U.S. District Court was filed by Coalition of businesses that objected to the new rules for several reasons but principally because OSHA exceeded its authority given by Congress in publishing these new regulations and that they did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by providing adequate notice of its intent to adopt the new rules.  In addition, the Coalition claims that OSHA failed to demonstrate that the rules are reasonably necessary to effect the purpose of the law and that it places an undue burden on employers.

It is not clear how the U.S. Court will rule on the motion.  However, employers should be prepared as a third delay is unlikely and December 1st will be here quickly.  For details on what is now required, review the final rule  to ensure that your service had made the necessary changes.  If you need assistance or guidance on what your service needs to do to prepare for the new, please contact the AAA.

 


 

 

Have an HR or operations question? Send it to Scott Moore, Esq.

Required Employment Posting Changes

Over the last few months we notified AAA members of several changes to employment laws that ambulance providers need to be aware of.  In early May we published advisories to members regarding upcoming changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Reporting Requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).  In July, we notified members that the United States Department of Labor (DOL) would be increasing the civil penalties for violations of the laws that they enforce in an effort to update the penalty amounts to provide for adjustment due to inflation and to maintain the penalty’s deterring effect.

These changes require that employers update the required Federal employment postings in their workplaces.  The new postings are available on the Department of Labor’s website free of charge.  Alternatively, many employers purchase the all-in-one combination Federal and State posters from third party vendors.  Whether obtained from the DOL or from a vendor, the postings need to be updated to reflect these new changes.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The changes to the FLSA that were detailed during a AAA Webinar in June will become effective this coming December 2016.  While there was no change to the Federal Minimum Wage, there were substantial changes to the overtime exemption criteria effecting those who are currently characterized as exempt that will transition to non-exempt and eligible for overtime pay.  The required FLSA posting will reflect the change to the classification of employees, requirements for nursing mothers, and updated enforcement section.

Occupational Health & Safety Act (OSHA)

The AAA published an advisory in May notifying members about upcoming changes to the reporting requirements under OSHA, including provisions regarding the notification to employees of non-retaliation for those who file work injury or illness claims.  The non-retaliation notice provisions become effective November 1, 2016.  The new OSHA posting reflects the notice to employees regarding the non-retaliation provisions.

Civil Penalty Increases

The increases to the civil monetary penalties are reflected in the changes to both new FLSA and OSHA postings.  In addition, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) posting has changed to reflect the removal of a specific penalty amount.  The new EPPA posting can be found on the DOL’s website.

There has been a flurry of activity with regard to changes to laws that impact employees and employers over the last year with more on the horizon.  The AAA will continue to monitor those changes and provide guidance to ambulance providers on the best way to stay compliant.

  • 1
  • 2