February 25, 2021

GAO Urges OSHA Action to Improve Reporting of Injury and Illness Data

A report released on Feb. 18 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that many employers do not report required data and “OSHA has taken limited steps to ensure compliance.” GAO’s conclusions are based on a study that examined how OSHA identifies and addresses recordkeeping violations as well as the extent to which employers comply with OSHA’s reporting requirements.

The GAO report estimates that employers did not report any injury and illness data on OSHA Form 300A for more than 50 percent of workplaces that met reporting criteria during 2016–2018. Employers use OSHA Form 300A to summarize work-related illnesses and injuries, and certain employers are required to electronically report this information to OSHA. GAO stresses that these data are “crucial to understanding where injuries and illnesses are occurring” and assist OSHA in targeting high-risk workplaces for inspections.

GAO urges OSHA to evaluate its procedures for ensuring the reporting of annual injury and illness data as required and to develop a plan to address the widespread non-compliance indicated by GAO’s review. The report specifically calls for OSHA to examine efforts related to encouraging employers to comply with reporting requirements and citing employers for noncompliance. According to GAO, evaluating these procedures will help OSHA understand the extent to which its current efforts may be improving reporting as well as help identify other efforts the agency should consider.

Prior to the report’s release to the public, GAO provided a draft to OSHA for review and comment. GAO notes that OSHA “generally agreed” with its recommendations and includes in its report OSHA’s complete response.

“Without more effective efforts to encourage and enforce compliance with the injury and illness reporting requirement, OSHA will continue to lack necessary data to target inspections of high-risk establishments and ensure worker safety and health,” GAO concludes.

To learn more or download the full report (PDF), visit GAO’s website.