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OSHA Record Keeping Guidelines

What do you know about U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) record keeping regulations? OSHA tracks injuries and accidents involving forklifts, pallet jacks, aerial lifts, scissor lifts, and other aerial work platforms. Which means employers need to keep track of their training records, safety program and more. Without a thorough record keeping platform, your company could be subject to expensive fines and penalties.

Clearly, record keeping is important – but there’s also some confusion about exactly what goes into acceptable, compliant records. To get an answer, we recently spoke with Tom Wilkerson, President and CEO of, a leading provider of OSHA compliant pallet jack & forklift training, for his take on OSHA record keeping guidelines. Keep reading to learn more about this important – and often overlooked – element of safety & compliance!

Are you up to speed with your OSHA recordkeeping requirements?

The better question might be…is your company aware of what the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires for compliant recordkeeping?

OSHA requires every employer to track all aspects of employee training and compliance, particularly as they related to the safe, efficient operation of forklifts, heavy-duty lifts, pallet jacks, and other industrial equipment like aerial work platforms (AWPs), cherry pickers, manlifts, boom lifts, scissor lifts, and mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs).

But what exactly does effective recordkeeping entail? Companies that answer the question are way ahead of the compliance curve than companies that can’t. And invariably, it comes down to preparation, planning & training – simply put, those firms that invested in OSHA approved recordkeeping training are much less  likely to be cited for fines & non-compliance.

Let’s review what constitutes a compliance, sustainable recordkeeping program.

First, what makes up an OSHA compliant recordkeeping program? Think of it this way: if it impacts your employees and safety – training, accidents, equipment incidents, and related issues – it should go into your recordkeeping log. This includes:

  • Accidents and near accidents
  • Injuries, including minor ones – no injury is too “small” to avoid a solid recordkeeping log
  • Updates to safety procedures & policies
  • Operator training, including completed courses, training records from day one, and more
  • OSHA audits & investigations
  • Any event that changes employee HR files
  • Maintenance issues affecting operation of industrial equipment
  • Additional training and safety measures, including CPR courses, first responder training, etc.
  • And much more

Keep in mind, OSHA updates their recordkeeping guidelines on a regular basis. For example, in 2014, OSHA drafted a significant amendment to their recordkeeping rules, requiring employers to notify OSHA of workplace fatalities within 8 hours, and major accidents requiring hospital care within 24 hours. This new guideline went into effect on January 1, 2015.

Amazingly, many employers still failed to comply with this (perfectly reasonable) requirement into 2015 and beyond – and those firms that ignored the regulation were fined thousands of dollars!

So how can you improve your current recordkeeping program?

  • Go directly to the source. For some reason, some employers are reluctant to get assistance on the official OSHA website. But many recordkeeping aids and forms are freely available for download. For instance, their Injury & Illness Recordkeeping Forms are an excellent resource to document & track these important events. Plus, OSHA also has a handy Injury Tracking Application for comprehensive accident & injury reports.
  • Try OSHA’s Recordkeeping Tutorial. Speaking of helpful information available on OSHA’s website, be sure to try their Recordkeeping Tutorial for a thorough, comprehensive review of how to track typical workplace incident for your own files.
  • When in doubt, document it. Unsure about whether a safety, training or accident related event is “recordkeeping worthy.” Always err on the side of caution. Always assume OSHA may eventually ask about what happened. In other words, always document it!
  • Get training. OSHA recordkeeping training helps establish a framework for your company’s own recordkeeping plan. You can always customize to fit your specific needs, as long as you meet OSHA’s minimum requirements.
  • Encourage everyone to get involved. Safety supervisors can’t be everywhere all the time. Thousands of incidents and close calls happen every hour of every day on the job in workplaces all over the country. Stress the importance of documenting any safety & training issues to all employees, and encourage them to report any accidents and even near accidents. This helps provide a solid base of data for your recordkeeping files, not to mention opportunities to improve safety on the fly!

OSHA recordkeeping might seem like a chore, but with a system in place, regular training and contributions from everyone, it actually takes care of itself. And remember – the purpose of documenting issues impacting safety & training benefit everyone in your company!

About the Author

Tom Wilkerson, COE of, has the unique perspective of employee, safety supervisor and training / learning products developer in the industrial workplace. His umbrella of training sites, including,, and, have helped thousands of companies across the United States with compliance and safety training. From aerial work platforms (AWPs) and mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) to pallet jacks and warehouse forklifts, the family of training platforms offers affordable, accurate, 100% OSHA compliant training & certification. To learn more about, click here for pricing & course information, or call 1-888-699-4800.