A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) paints a picture of how it thinks OSHA should crack down on companies that don’t properly report injuries and illnesses.

According to GAO, a big part of the problem is that OSHA hasn’t evaluated the effectiveness of its procedures. The agency also lacks a plan to correct deficiencies in those procedures. To find a way to correct this, GAO analyzed 15 years of OSHA recordkeeping violation data and compared that with Census data

to estimate how many employers complied with summary reporting requirements. OSHA procedures and relevant federal regulations were also reviewed, and GAO interviewed OSHA officials and staff as well. Among GAO’s findings was that OSHA identified about 220,000 employers in 2019 who may have failed to report their data.

OSHA mailed reminder postcards to 27,000 of them and cited 255 employers for failure to report their data from mid December 2017 through September 2019 after on-site inspections were conducted. But because OSHA hasn’t evaluated its procedures, it doesn’t know if any of these efforts are improving injury and illness reporting or if it should look into other methods to help improve reporting.


GAO says OSHA needs to evaluate its current procedures for ensuring employers report their data and implement a plan to correct any problems it finds. And OSHA agrees.

The GAO report says, “OSHA committed to assessing whether conducting remote inspections for non-compliance with recordkeeping regulations are an effective and efficient use of resources.”

Bottom line: OSHA needs to increase its enforcement efforts in this area and may end up doing more remote inspections on recordkeeping to do so.

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About the Author

Jon Knight

Jon Knight leads the NASP Team’s media creation department. He has been involved with workplace safety training since 2017 with a focus on course creation. He also provides video production and voiceovers for NASP content.
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