Employment LawScene Alert: OSHA Implements New Reporting Requirements

New Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reporting requirements went into effect on January 1, 2015. These new rules require all employers, even those who are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records due to company size or industry, to report all work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye to OSHA.

Employers must report work-related fatalities within 8 hours of finding out about them.  Employers will also now be required to report all amputations, partial amputations, losses of an eye, and any inpatient hospitalization of an employee due to workplace injuries to OSHA within 24 hours of the incident. Previously, employers only had to report hospitalizations if they involved three or more employees, which was rare.  Employers do not have to report a hospitalization if it is only for diagnostic testing or observation. OSHA’s new reporting requirements will dramatically increase the number of incidents that have to be reported to OSHA.

For example, employers will now be required to report all work-related amputations as OSHA broadly defines “amputations” to include a part, such as a limb or appendage, that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached.

Employers will have three options by which to comply with their reporting requirement to OSHA. First, employers may make a report by telephone to the nearest OSHA area office. Second, employers may make a report by telephone to the 24-hour OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Lastly, employers can report online through OSHA’s website (www.osha.gov), which is expected to be operational by mid-January.   It is OSHA’s plan to publish all reports of injuries on its website.

Because there is likely to be additional reporting to OSHA, OSHA will have additional enforcement opportunities, which means additional inspections for employers.  Because OSHA enforcement inspections typically result in citations, this could have a significant impact on the companies that face these inspections due to on-the-job injuries.

Employers should make sure that they are aware of their new reporting duties and are complying properly.  More importantly, employers should make sure that they have safe work practices and procedures, have proper safety policies, provide adequate safety training, and ensure that all workplace safety rules are strictly enforced.  Preventing workplace injuries should be every employer’s goal.

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