By Eric J. Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group

According to a recent report to Congress from OSHA, the Agency’s multi-year Injury & Illness Recordkeeping National Emphasis Program (“Recordkeeping NEP”) continued through its termination in 2012 to yield less alarming results than the OSHA leadership team forecasted, despite revising the program in late 2010.

The initial version of the Recordkeeping NEP was put on hold due to lower than expected (at least by OSHA) instances of recordkeeping abuses (i.e., employers deliberately under recording injuries and illnesses), so OSHA attempted to modify the targets of the Recordkeeping NEP to smoke out the bad actors that OSHA believed were out there in droves.  The revised Recordkeeping NEP, however, identified even less under-recording per inspection than did the original version of the NEP.

OSHA reported that approximately 40% more violations were discovered and 60% more penalties were assessed under the original NEP compared to the revised program.  In light of the approximately $1 million price tag of the program, the Agency has come under significant criticism from industry, which recognizes that the Recordkeeping NEP was riddled with methodological deficiencies and that the report lacks utility and transparency.

The Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, has responded to criticism about the Recordkeeping NEP by reiterating that accurate injury and illness logs are critically important to meeting the Agency’s mission.

Michael’s further emphasizes the Agency commitment to “ensuring that OSHA recordkeeping requirements are met in the nation’s workplaces and that injury and illness data reported by employers are accurate and not influenced by improper incentive or disincentive programs.”

Keep your records in check with EBG’s new Injury & Illness Recordkeeping Checklist

Despite the whimper with which the Recordkeeping NEP ended, and OSHA’s other Recordkeeping enforcement challenges we reported earlier in our blog post “D.C. Circuit Limits OSHA’s Recordkeeping ‘Madness’“, OSHA’s leadership team still believes employers are playing fast and loose with OSHA Recordkeeping, so employers need to prepare for more scrutiny of injury and illness records.  The OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker Green has prepared a new desk reference guide to help employers prepare for that scrutiny — the Injury & Illness Recordkeeping Checklist.  This new tool is a companion piece to our populer OSHA Inspection Checklist.

Special thanks to Ali Lakhani, a Summer Associate (not admitted to the practice of law) in Epstein Becker Green’s Washington, DC, office, for his significant contribution to the preparation of this post.