2018 OSHA 300-A Posting Timeline

As many of us know; all employers are required to keep OSHA Form 300 (Injury and Illness Log) records throughout the year and must post Form 300A.  This annual summary of job-related illness and injuries, must be posted in the workplace by February 1, 2018.  The OSHA 300-A from should be posted in common areas, comparable to locations of labor and employment posters, workers compensation certification and paid family leave certification (break rooms, meeting rooms, kitchens, etc.).  The summary must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2017.

Areas to remember:

  1. Posting Period: The posting period starts on February 1, 2018 and ends on April 30, 2018.
  2. What is a Form 300A: The form reports a business’s total number of fatalities, missed workdays, job transfers or restrictions, and injuries and illnesses as recorded on the OSHA Form 300.  The information posted should also include the number of employees and the hours they worked for the year.  No recordable illnesses or injuries?    However, an organization must still post the form, with zeroes on the appropriate lines.
  3. Helpful Links:

OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

Injury & Illness Recordkeeping Forms

OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor

Partially Exempt Industries List

“The Trump administration continues to look for ways to lessen the regulatory burden on employers. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) electronic recordkeeping regulation continues to be whittled down. OSHA’s latest Regulatory Agenda sets out new changes to the already beleaguered rule. Specifically, OSHA intends to propose to amend the Electronic Recordkeeping rule to eliminate the requirement that establishments with 250 or more employees submit OSHA 300 Logs and 301 forms. Instead, two types of establishments would continue to submit 300A summary forms: (1) establishments of 250 or more employees; and (2) establishments with between 20 and 249 employees in the high-hazard industries listed in Appendix A to the regulation. Employers with establishments meeting these criteria electronically submitted OSHA 300A summaries with 2016 data on or before December 31, 2017 and will submit their calendar year 2017 summaries by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019, and every year thereafter, covered establishments must submit the information by March 2.”[i]

As we see with many of the HR laws and regulations, OSHA is continuing to evolve and change under the new administration.  Ensure that you are monitoring for recent or upcoming changes and posting as required under the federal and state law.  Public sector rules will vary as well.  If you have questions, seek guidance.  Safety rules and regulations can be complex, just as HR laws and regulations are.

[i] https://ogletree.com/shared-content/content/blog/2018/january/osha-anticipates-more-changes-to-the-electronic-recordkeeping-rule

 

 

5 Thoughts on Sexual Harassment Investigations

Recently, we have seen a significant number of workplace sexual harassment allegations and legal claims in the media.  Many of these allegations have been ignored for years, if not decades.  As organizational leaders, we have an obligation to take harassment claims of any nature seriously and address these claims proactively.  Investigating sexual harassment allegations, bullying, retaliation, etc. and addressing these issues is never easy, but it is necessary.

Below is a summary of my 5 thoughts on sexual harassment investigations:

  1. Take it Seriously: As recent news has shown us that ignoring a problem and/or covering it up isn’t a solution to any employee relations issues or sexual harassment claim. Employees should feel comfortable discussing these allegations with a supervisor, manager, business owner or the human resources department and have the confidence that the system will not fail them.  Make time to listen and address any concerns that are brought to your attention.  The worst thing we can do is ignore it or that make statements, that we are too busy to listen and proactively deal with the situation.
  2. Ensure Confidentiality: Organizations must protect the confidentiality of employee claims to the best of its ability.  Within protecting confidentiality, we must also conduct a prompt and proactive investigation.  Explain to the party putting forth the allegations and all individuals involved in the investigation process, that all information gathered will remain confidential, to the extent possible for an effective investigation.  However, organizations cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality to any party involved in the investigation.
  3. Provide Interim Protection: “Separating the alleged victim from the accused may be necessary to guard against continued harassment or retaliation. Actions such as a schedule change, transfer or leave of absence may be necessary; however, complaints should not be involuntarily transferred or burdened.  These types of actions could appear to be retaliatory and result in a retaliation claim.  The employer and the accuser must work together to arrive at an amenable solution.”[i]  Reinforce policies and communicate proactively with the party that has put forth the allegations.
  4. The Investigator: The appropriate investigator is necessary to ensure credibility of the investigation. Investigators must have the ability to investigate objectively without bias and remain neutral.  The investigator should have no stakes in the outcome.  There should be no personal relationships with either party involved in the situation.  Investigators need investigation skills that include; previous investigatory experience and working knowledge of labor and employment laws.  They must be able to build rapport with the parties involved, have attention to detail (notes, questions, fact-finding and summarizing) and the right temperament to conduct the interviews.  Investigating allegations is not easy.  Patience, efficiency and fluid communication is necessary to be effective.
  5. Investigation Closure: Ensure that thorough notes are documented throughout the process, interviews are closed out and the investigation ends. Loop closing communication is necessary to ensure investigations are effective and impactful.  Leaving the alleging party with no closure can lead to additional issues.  This does not mean communicating discipline, training and/or termination impacts.

Throughout my career, I have conducted many workplace investigations, including; harassment, bullying, retaliation, workplace violence, threats and sexual harassment.  Investigations are never easy, but they are necessary.  Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it is necessary.  If you are unsure on investigating or recognize that an internal investigation will not be effective and impactful, bring in a third party to assist the organization throughout the process and seek the necessary guidance to protect your workforce and your organization.

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/howtoconductaninvestigation.aspx

 

5 Elements of Due Process

As organizational leaders, we have the complex task of managing the workforce, coaching and counseling, disciplining, and at times, discharging employees.  Conflict resolution is never easy, but necessary, for the workforce, employee morale and the organization.  Avoiding difficult discussions or not addressing employee relations issues, can and will impact the organization.  We need to be consistent and fair for all employees, while providing a due process for discipline to potential discharge.

Below are 5 elements of due process:

  1. Expectations and Consequences: Communicating expectations, consequences and performance standards to the employee or workforce is the first step in the process.  The write-up should document a performance problem, consequences of not meeting expectations and all metrics associated with the performance problem.  Follow-up dates and action items are great to include in the first step.
  2. Consistency: We need to treat all workers with consistent and fair rules.  If we discipline one employee for a performance issue, all employees with the same issue should be disciplined.  Inconsistent practices can lead to legal issues, employee moral issues, turnover and internal conflict.
  3. The Discipline Must be Appropriate for the Offense: Review the “big picture” prior to making a decision on discipline and probable cause for termination.
  4. Employee Response: The employee should be given the opportunity to respond during any investigation or administration of discipline.
  5. Time to Improve Performance: If your organization is using progressive discipline, we do need to allow the employee time to improve performance.  However, certain situations will dictate decisions regarding performance improvement plans and immediate termination.  These situations need to be consistent and fair, throughout the organization.

Coaching and counseling, disciplining or terminating an employee is never an easy decision, but one that is necessary for the organization and rest of the workforce to grow and succeed.  The definition of due process is an area we should design our policies and procedures around.  Remember, as the employer, you have the right to change the policies.  We need to ensure we communicate the changes to the workforce.  Also, keep in mind Employment-At-Will doctrine, laws and regulations.  This can vary, state to state and union versus non-union employers.  Seek guidance if you need assistance on coaching, counseling, disciplining or terminating an employee.  How we communicate the action/decision can have an impact.

5 Considerations for Effective Workplace Investigations

We recently completed a successful training on effective and legal workplace investigations.  During the recording of our next podcast for Upstate HR, we also discussed workplace investigations and the importance of proactive investigatory processes.  Throughout my career, many of my experiences have provided valuable insight into the importance of effective and efficient workplace investigations.  As leaders, we need to take complaints and investigations seriously, as these issues can escalate into additional problems in the workplace, on social media,  and create stress outside of work.

Below are 5 considerations for effective workplace investigations:

  1. Don’t ignore the issue/complaint. If any employee approaches the organization with a complaint or allegation, we need to take this seriously.  Ignoring or hoping the issue goes away or resolves itself is not the right approach; we need to address the underlying issues.  Ask questions and ensure you understand the details of the issues/allegations.
  2. Never assume: Remember, there are two-sides to every story.  Do not assume that one party is guilty, because we only hear one-side of the story.  In most cases, fact-finding means understanding the entire allegation/situation before making a decision.
  3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Preparing for the investigation interviews and fact-finding is challenging.  What questions do we ask?  What information do we need?  Who should we talk too?  The answer to this is that it depends on the situation.  Creating a template or checklist to ensure consistency and accuracy will help in working through the process efficiently and proactively.  Ask leading questions that force individuals to answer questions with more information, versus “yes” or “no” answers.  The more prepared you are, the more efficient the process will become.  Investigations are not easy and questions that are asked will not always be enjoyable for people to answer.  I have asked many of these questions throughout my career.  Be prepared, and know laws, policies, procedures, contract language, etc. that may be involved or impacted by the investigation.
  4. Neutrality: This consideration defaults back to consideration #2.  Remain neutral throughout the investigation and recommendation process.  This takes practice and is not easy in small organizations.  If you as a leader feel that neutrality is not practical internally, it is not always a bad idea to bring in a third-party to conduct the investigation and draft a finding of facts.  Using a third party all but ensures neutrality throughout the process.
  5. Closure/Conclusion/Recommendation: Throughout my career, I have seen this final step as the biggest hurdle for many organizations.  The investigation is conducted, information is gathered and then nothing happens.  Regardless of the outcome or recommended outcomes, the investigation needs to be closed.  I’m not suggesting revealing confidential information, but we do need to close the loop of communication with the parties involved.  Without proactive communication, we could see increased employee relations issues, decreased employee morale, and potential retaliation issues.  This is one of the most important pieces of the investigation process.

We closed out the podcast yesterday on a positive note.  Not all workplace investigations are negative or lead to discipline.  Workplace investigations are great for process improvement, addressing safety concerns, Six Sigma change, employee engagement, and efficiency.  Regardless, we need to take the investigation process seriously and manage it proactively, by reinforcing rules and policies throughout.  If you are unclear on how to investigate, ask for assistance or hire a third-party neutral to manage the process for the organization.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

 

Below are the for upcoming training’s I will be conducting at Elmira College, Corning Community College (CCC), 247 Compliance and Compliance Online (July & August):

Elmira College: SHRM Certification Exam Prep Course- September through November

Upcoming Corning Community College Training’s

247 Compliance: Performance of Dashboard Using KPIs and Designing

 

Below is a link to our new Podcast Upstate HR:

Recruitment in the Modern Age

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