Three Things to Know About the Updated OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping NEP

On September 28, 2010, OSHA quietly announced updates to its Injury and Illness Recordkeeping National Emphasis Program (NEP). Launched October 1, 2009, the original NEP was initiated to “address the issue of inaccurate recording of occupational injuries and illnesses.” Major changes to the NEP include:

  1. Expansion of industries included in NEP to those listed on BLS tables SNR02 2007 and 2008 with a new focus on manufacturing industries
  2. Elimination of the DART rate cap of 4.2, with the new inspection DART target rate between 4.2 – 8.0
  3. A new focus on CY 2008 and CY 2009

According to an OSHA Quick Takes email, the changes to the Injury and Illness NEP are routine.

“OSHA adjusted the targeting criteria for new inspections under its ongoing Recordkeeping National Emphasis Program. OSHA routinely evaluates NEPs and makes adjustments after they have run for nine months to a year. OSHA last did this on its Combustible Dust NEP. Before that, the agency made adjustments to its NEPs on lead and amputations. OSHA made adjustments Sept. 28 to the targeting criteria for the Recordkeeping NEP to focus on manufacturing, larger worksites and employers with higher injury rates than in the initial criteria. OSHA began the Recordkeeping NEP in October 2009.”

In announcing the changes, OSHA included a few notes about the success of the program to date, saying “Almost half of the 187 inspections conducted so far have found recordkeeping violations.”

However, OSHA has recently been criticized for the way in which the NEP has been carried out, most notably by PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. PEER issued its own press release on October 5, 2010 saying the NEP to date had been “plagued by a poor design and anemic implementation.” It also faulted the geographic coverage of investigations, pointing to “huge geographic gaps” and noting that “more than a third (35%) of all inspections took place in just one state, Oregon.”

Regardless of the impetus for OSHA’s adjustments to the NEP, the update signals OSHA’s commitment to investigating the accuracy of injury and illness numbers and puts a greater number of businesses and industries on notice that they could be next.

To that end, the OSHA Quick Take item on NEP concluded with the following:

“ OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels has said clearly that accurate injury and illness logs are critically important and he is committed to "ensuring that OSHA recordkeeping requirements are met in the nation's workplaces and that injury and illness data reported by employers are accurate and not influenced by improper incentive or disincentive programs.""

The NEP is scheduled to run through February of 2012.