Keeping Safety and Health Records

By Stuart Nakutin | September 28, 2010

No operation can be successful without adequate record keeping, which can enable contractors to learn from past experience and make corrections for future operations.

Under Cal/OSHA record keeping requirements, information on injuries and illnesses is gathered and stored. Upon review, causes can be identified and control procedures instituted to prevent the illness or injury from recurring. Keep in mind that any inspection of the workplace may require contractors to demonstrate the effectiveness of the particular program in use.

Injury and Illness Records

Injury and illness record keeping requirements under Cal/OSHA call for a minimum amount of paperwork. These records give contractors one measure for evaluating the success of the safety and health activities. Success generally would mean a reduction or elimination of employee injuries or illnesses during a calendar year.

During the year, periodically review these records to see where injuries and illnesses are occurring and in what numbers. Look for any patterns or repeat situations. These records can help identify hazardous areas in the workplace and pinpoint where immediate corrective action is needed.

Exposure Records

Injury and illness records may not be the only records contractors will need to maintain. Certain Cal/OSHA standards that deal with toxic substances and hazardous exposures require records of employee exposure to these substances and sources, physical examination reports, employment records, and so forth.

Employers using any of the regulated carcinogens have additional reporting and record keeping requirements. (See Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations for details.)

Documentation of Activities

Essential records, including those legally required for workers' compensation, insurance audits, and government inspections, must be maintained for as long as the actual need exists.

Written records of activities must be kept. These include activities such as policy statements, training sessions for management and employees (specify the name of trainer and trainee(s), topics and dates, etc.), safety and health meetings held, information distributed to employees, medical arrangements made, and scheduled and periodic inspections (specifying inspector's name, findings and corrections, etc.) These training and inspection records must be maintained.

Finally, written records afford an efficient means to review current safety and health activities for better control of operations and to plan future improvements.

Guidelines for Record Keeping

Records should be kept of all safety program activities, and may include:

  • Initial orientation training
  • Job descriptions and/or job analysis
  • Safety meetings
  • Training schedule for each employee
  • Injury or illness investigation
  • Employee and employer claim forms
  • Cal/OSHA required records [Form 300, medical exposure records, injury reports (Form 301 which is the same as SCIF Form 3067)]
  • Inspections performed, in-house, and any performed by outside agencies
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Safety Committee meetings
  • Vehicle inspection forms
  • DMV driving records
  • CPR/First Aid training

Bottom Line

Keeping competent safety and health records allows contractors to identify causes and control procedures, stopping illness or injury from recurring. By having these records, contractors can learn from the past and change their business for the better.

Editor's Note: Stuart Nakutin is the Director of Claims, Loss Control and Human Resources for Cavignac & Associates, a San Diego-based commercial insurance brokerage firm.