What’s an “establishment” under OSHA?

On July 20, 2018, OSHA published a proposed rule to rescind the requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from the OSHA 300 Log and 301 form and added a requirement for covered establishments to include the Employer Identification Number with their submissions. These establishments will continue to be required to submit information from their Form 300A summaries. Public comments are due by September 28.

An “establishment” is defined as a single location where business is conducted or where services/operations are performed. Where employees normally do not work at a single physical location, it is considered the main (or branch) office that supervises the employees’ activities or the base where employees carry out these activities.   Employers must keep a separate OSHA 300 log for each establishment that is expected to be in operation for one year or longer. With respect to short-term establishments, i.e., those worksites where employees are expected to be working for less than a year, employers are required to keep injury and illness records but are not required to keep separate logs. Instead, employers may keep one log covering all short-term establishments, or may include the short-term establishment records in logs that cover individual business divisions or geographic regions.

Accordingly to OSHA, one business normally only has one establishment.  However, in limited circumstances, a business may consider two or more separate businesses that share a single location to be separate establishments thus maintaining their own recordkeeping.  This occurs when (1) each of the establishments represents a distinctly separate business; (2) each business is engaged in a different economic activity; (3) no one industry description in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual of 1987[1] applies to the joint activities of the establishments; and (4) separate reports are routinely prepared for each establishment on the number of employees, wages and salaries, sales or receipts, and other business information.  By way of example, if an employer operates a construction company at the same location as a lumber yard, the employer may consider each business to be a separate establishment.

Similarly, one establishment may have more than one physical location only when (1) the employer operates the locations as a single business operation under common management; (2) the locations are all located in close proximity to each other; and (3) the employer keeps one set of business records for all the locations.

OSHA permits keeping records for all establishments at a central location, e.g., corporate headquarters provided that it can transmit injury/illness information from any such establishment to the central location within seven calendar days of receiving information about a recordable event and it can produce the information in the required time period to government representatives, employees, former employees or employee representatives.

Recordable injuries or illnesses sustained by an employee at a remote location must be recorded on that employee’s home establishment’s OSHA 300 log. In cases where employees work at several different locations or do not work at any establishment, each employee must be linked to one of the employer’s establishment. In other words, all of the employee’s injuries and illness must be recorded on either his/her home establishment’s OSHA 300 log, or a general OSHA 300 log for short-term establishments.

It is important for businesses to ensure they are properly recording injuries and illnesses as such records are normally requesting during an OSHA inspection, accessible to employees and their representatives and can be very helpful tools in conducting internal health and safety audits.

[1] OSHA began using the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) for industry identification in various data sets as of January 1, 2003.

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