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SAFE PRACTICE Simplifying OSHA’s Record Retention Requirements DARREN J. HUNTER, ROONEY, RIPPIE & RATNASWAMY LLP, CHICAGO M


any of the regulations from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration


(OSHA) have been in effect for more than 40 years, with new regulations enacted every year. While the format and structure of the regulations are somewhat consis- tent, record retention requirements can be inconsistent. Te result is confusion over how long employers are required to maintain health and safety records. Employers should identify which of


OSHA’s policies and programs are ap- plicable to their place of employment and determine if OSHA requires employers to maintain records related to those policies and programs for a period of time. Sec- ond, employers should implement a pro- cedure to ensure records are maintained at least for the period required under OSHA’s regulations, if not longer. Tird, given that many records are maintained in electronic format, employers should ensure that their IT systems and policies are designed to save these records for the required period. Fourth, if OSHA has not implemented a retention policy for certain records, employers should still maintain them consistent with their general record retention policies. Notably, OSHA has implemented


specific retention requirements for cer- tain records, but is silent on retention for others. Silence by OSHA does not mean employers are free to immediately discard records. Te statute of limitations for OSHA to issue a citation is six months from the date of the violation. Terefore, at a bare minimum, employers should maintain records for six months. From a practical standpoint, however, employers should consider adopting a more conser- vative record retention policy to ensure it can prove programs have been in place and the employees have been trained. If feasible, employers should retain training records for the duration of employment. With these principles in mind, here are key record retention requirements.


Recordkeeping 29 CFR Part 1904 • Employers must retain the 300 Log, the privacy case list (if one exists), the 300-A Annual Summary, and the 301


46 | MODERN CASTING August 2015


Incident Report for five years following the end of the calendar year to which • they apply.


OSHA 300 Logs must be updated to include newly discovered recordable injuries or illnesses.


Employee Exposure Records 29 CFR § 1910.1020 • Employees are entitled to access and ob- tain a copy of their exposure and medi- • cal records at the employer’s expense.


Employers must inform employees of their right to access all exposure and • medical records.


Employee exposure records include, but are not limited to, environmental (workplace) monitoring data for toxic substances, harmful physical agents • and biological agents.


Employers must retain employee exposure and medical records for the duration of employment plus 30 years, unless specified.


Hazard Communication 29 CFR § 1910.1200 • Under the HazCom standard, employ- ers should retain the following types of


records:• List of chemicals present. • Methods used to inform em- ployees of hazards of routine and • non-routine tasks.


• Chemical labeling system.


Employee information and pro- • gram training.


• Employee access to safety data sheets.


HazCom program records must be main- • tained until the program is superseded.


Employers must retain Safety Data Sheets for the duration of employ- ment plus 30 years for all employees exposed to any hazardous chemical.


Emergency Action Plan 29 CFR § 1910.38 • Employer must develop an emergency action plan (EAP) for the workplace, including, but not limited to, types of emergencies, evacuation procedures, the • alarm system and training requirements.


Employers must retain EAP records until the plan is no longer required or is superseded.


Noise Survey (Exposure) (29 CFR § 1910.95) • At facilities where employees are exposed to noise levels greater than or equal to an eight-hour time- weighted-average (TWA) of 85 decibels, the employer must provide a hearing conservation program consisting of education and train- ing, annual audiograms and hearing • protection for the employees.


Employers must retain program • records for two years.


Employers are required to maintain audiometric test records for the du- ration of the worker’s employment.


Process Safety Management (PSM) 29 CFR § 1910.119 • Employers that utilize certain chemicals above threshold quantities as a part of a process are required to develop a written PSM program,


Employers must prepare a writ- ten record that each employee was • trained and understood the training.


• Employers must retain records of the • program for the life of the process.


including: • Process safety information. • Process hazard analysis. • Operating procedures. • Training documentation. • Contractor procedures. • Mechanical integrity. • Hot work permits.


Employers must retain incident • investigation reports for five years.


Employers must retain the two most recent compliance audits. Employers are required to maintain


numerous health and safety records as part of OSHA compliance and must retain records for various periods of time. If an employer fails to do so, OSHA can issue a citation. Addition- ally, the employer will have difficulty defending itself if OSHA asserts that the employer violated the underlying health and safety standard. Records are the evidence that employers need to demonstrate compliance.


Contact the author at darren.hunter@r3law.com, www.r3law.com.


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