When responding to OSHA’s requests for information per the updated recordkeeping rule, make sure to keep these tips in mind:
- State the known facts, not opinions or speculation. Speculation or opinions, particularly as to the cause of an accident or the existence of a hazard, are often misinterpreted as admissions as to what actually happened. For example, if cause is only suspected or unknown, or if the instance is still under investigation, say so.
- Avoid placing blame or admitting legal violations. Statements that supervisors violated company rules or committed OSHA violations can significantly impact your company’s liability.
- If a problem is noted, always follow up and document that corrective action has been taken. Almost all safety investigation forms have a space to note recommended or completed corrective action. Failure to take corrective action may be construed by OSHA as willful conduct.
- Be truthful. A false statement in any safety documentation can be very damaging. Make certain that all information provided to OSHA is carefully reviewed and, if necessary, corrected for accuracy.
- When in doubt, especially with regard to fatality, catastrophic accident or other significant cases, get the advice of legal counsel before responding with anything more than what you are required by law to initially report.