OSHA Implements New Requirements for Reporting Severe Workplace Injuries

sever injuryEarlier this week the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new rule mandating that employers notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or is hospitalized due to a work-related injury, amputation or loss of an eye. The requirement, which also updates the specific types of employers partially exempt from OSHA’s record-keeping requirements, is slated to take effect on January 1, 2015, for all workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

These new measures come on the heels of results published within the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. As US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a press announcement: “Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. We can and must do more to keep America’s workers safe and healthy. Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

Under the revised regulation, employers must notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within 8 hours of the incident; work-related injuries involving hospitalization, amputation or losses of an eye must be reported within 24 hours. In the past, employers only had to report work-related fatalities and hospitalizations when these involved three or more employees. Strangely, there was no requirement to report single hospitalizations, amputations or eye-loss of under the previous rule.

All employers that fall under the auspices of the Occupational Safety and Health Act — even when they are exempt from keeping injury and illness records – must not comply with OSHA’s severe injury and illness reporting requirements. To support employers in meeting these requirements, OSHA will launch a new Web portal for employers to report incidents online, in addition to the existing method of phone reporting.

“Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Beyond developing these new reporting requirements, OSHA has also renewed the index of industries that, because of historically low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from complying with routine injury and illness record-keeping practices. The previous list of exempt industries came from an outdated system of “Standard Industrial Classification”; while the new rule are based on the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list was generated using the most up-to-date injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

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Emery Reddy