OSHA Injury & Illness Annual Recordkeeping Criteria for 2020

OSHA Injury and Illness Annual Recordkeeping Criteria for 2020


With the start of the new year, let us address employer annual workplace injury and illness recordkeeping requirements set forth by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

  • Are you aware of these requirements? Why does OSHA require recordkeeping of workplace injuries and illnesses?
  • Do you know which injuries and illnesses need to be recorded and on what forms?
  • What are your reporting and posting requirements?
  • Is COVID-19 infection included in the OSHA recordkeeping requirement?


Before we begin, the OSHA recordkeeping regulations are robust and can be very complex. Injury and illness recordkeeping should be implemented and maintained by experienced, qualified individuals. The size of the company, number of employees and industry classification need to be taken into consideration for the employer to best determine who this important task is assigned to. Injury and illness data is critical to the company, federal/state/local regulatory compliance and legal matters. Injury and illness records need to be made available upon request and can under certain circumstances be requested by employees, ex-employees or their representatives, so issues such as housekeeping of records and privacy concerns becomes as critical as the data itself. Employers must keep and maintain these records for at least five years. Bottom line, choose wisely the person for this assignment.


The OSHA recordkeeping rule states that certain employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. OSHA’s recordkeeping rule is found within their 29CFR 1904 regulations, which can be found at OSHA’s website


There is also an informative Recordkeeping and Reporting landing page that OSHA has established and maintained for employers to reference.



Employers with 10 or fewer employees are not required to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses. However, it is important to note that these employee counts are often incorrectly interpreted. The employee counts are based on annual peak employment, meaning the number of employees at any time during the previous calendar year, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers. These employee counts are based on the overall company, not establishments. However, injury and illnesses records are maintained at the establishment level, not the company level.

OSHA defines an establishment as a single physical location where business is conducted or where services or industrial operations are performed. A firm may consist of one or more establishments. Often both firm and company are used interchangeably.


Also, certain low-risk industries are partially exempted from the recordkeeping rule.


It is important to note that even if a company is exempt from OSHA injury and illness recording requirements, they are not exempt from OSHA reporting requirements. They must still report any worker fatality within 8 hours and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours. 


Employers are advised to review state OSH plan recordkeeping rules that may require additional compliance measures. A list of state OSH plans can be found here:


So, why in fact does OSHA require certain employers to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses? Injury and illness information is powerful data that helps employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards, and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards, all with the purpose and intention of preventing future workplace injuries and illnesses and improving overall employee safety and health.


Qualifying Injuries and Illnesses

Which specific injuries and illnesses need to be recorded? OSHA has established the following guidelines:

  • Any work-related fatality.
  • Any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work, or transfer to another job.
  • Any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid.
  • Any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums.
  • Special recording criteria for work-related cases involving needlesticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss and tuberculosis.


OSHA also has a long-established decision tree chart in order to determine if recording is required.


OSHA Recordkeeping Forms

OSHA requires that specific forms be used for injury and illness recordkeeping. They are:

301 First Report of Injury- Form 301 captures basic information about the initial stage of the incident such as date, name of employee and description of the incident. Document the information on this form within seven calendar days after you receive information about the case and decide if it is recordable under the OSHA recordkeeping requirements.

300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses- Form 300 is used to classify work-related injuries and illnesses and to note the extent and severity of each case. There are many columns of required information about each case entry such as days away from work, restricted work activity and job transfer. This form is usually the most difficult for employers to complete and maintain, as case specifics can be very complicated to determine due to the nature and progression of the injury or illness and evolving employee status. The 300 Log can and should be continually updated throughout the calendar year, especially for larger employers. Also, a separate 300 Log must be kept and maintained at each employer establishment.

300a Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses- Form 300a takes data from the 300 Log and is used to show the totals for the year in each category. There are calculations that need to be correctly figured as well in order to complete the required information on the summary. Also, like the 300 Log, a separate 300a Summary must be kept and maintained at each employer establishment.


Once completed, your OSHA 300a Summary must be certified and signed by Company Executive, which is defined by OSHA as:

  • An owner of the company (sole proprietorship or partnership only).
  • An officer of the corporation.
  • The highest-ranking company official working at the establishment.
  • The immediate supervisor of the highest-ranking company official working at the establishment.


Lastly, you must post the 300a Summary in a visible location in the establishment from February 1 through April 30 so that your employees are aware of the injuries and illnesses occurring in their workplace. You must fill out and post the 300a Summary annually, even if no recordable work-related injuries or illnesses occurred during the year. This must be a physical posting. Electronic distribution to employees as an alternative does not currently meet the posting requirement.


Alternative Forms

Another common question is whether an employer can use alternative forms. The answer is yes, described by OSHA as follows:

"Alternatively, you may also use equivalent forms in place of the OSHA Forms. An equivalent form is one that has the same information, is as readable and understandable, and is completed using the same instructions as the OSHA form it replaces. Many employers use an insurance form instead of the OSHA 301 Incident Report, or supplement an insurance form by adding any additional information required by OSHA."

It is also worth noting that many employers now utilize workforce management technology and associated software programs for managing incidents. Many of these established platforms contain OSHA recordkeeping forms electronically or features that allow injury and illness data to be transferred to these forms.


Electronic Reporting Requirements (ERR)

On January 1, 2017, OSHA published a final rule for certain employers to submit their injury and illness data to OSHA through a secure website known as the Injury Tracking Application, or ITA. The reason was to improve OSHA's ability to identify establishments that experience high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses. OSHA uses the data to interact with these establishments, through both outreach and enforcement initiatives, with the goal of reducing injuries and illnesses. ERR is based on the size of the establishment, not the firm, and employers are still responsible for their annual OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping requirements. Are you one of these certain employers?



Establishments with 250 or more employees currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records or with 20-249 employees classified in certain industries must electronically submit their Form 300A Summary data to OSHA through Injury Tracking Application by March 2nd of the year after the calendar year covered by the form or whenever requested by OSHA. Here is the link to the OSHA ITA page:



Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic found both OSHA and employers in unprecedented territory, especially regarding how this coronavirus is to be considered toward injury and illness recordkeeping. COVID-19 infection is in fact a covered contagious disease under the OSHA recordkeeping rule. However, it has been a continuously and rapidly evolving situation. The highly infectious and widespread nature of this disease has made it especially difficult for employers and health care workers to determine if an employee was exposed at work or not. OSHA has created the following resources for employer guidance. They include:


Finally, OSHA has written and published numerous Letters of Interpretation throughout the years on the 1904 recordkeeping rule that addresses some of the information provided herein.


Injury and illness prevention is covered in OSHA 30-Hour General Industry Equivalent Training. This course can be completed online at your convenience. Employers and employees can register individually or as a group. OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Equivalent Training is also available. Contact National Environmental Trainers if you have questions.