What records does the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require an employer to keep?

Authors: John D. Surma and Collin G. Warren, Adams and Reese LLP

Most employers are required to keep the OSHA 300, OSHA 300a and OSHA 301 logs. These forms are kept by the employer - they do not need to be sent to anyone at the end of the year* - and must be kept for five years. The OSHA 300 log is where an employer should record any work-related injuries or illnesses. OSHA 300a is the summary of the yearly total of injuries and illnesses, which needs to be posted in an obvious spot from February 1 until April 30 of every year. OSHA 301 is a supplement to form 300.

An employer with fewer than 11 employees or in a low-hazard industry typically is not required to keep such records. However, if the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells the employer that its information will be collected at the end of the year, the employer will still need to keep these records even if it meets one of the exceptions.

In addition to the OSHA 300 logs, the OSH Act requires certain industries to keep various records, such as certain materials and chemicals stored on site in excess of specified quantities, safety data sheets, process safety management documentation, training/certification conducted on employees, fire prevention plans and emergency action plans. An employer should also keep employee medical records that relate to toxic exposure as well as employee exposure records.

*Certain employers are required to electronically submit to OSHA the injury and illness data recorded on these forms.