OSHA’s new workplace death and serious-accident reporting rules could have employers scrambling to ensure they are reporting a much broader array of workplace incidents. Impending OSHA reporting rule changes are going to prove interesting for both employers and OHSA itself in the quest to reach that worthwhile goal.
Employment attorneys say that OSHA’s new rules, which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, will create a dramatic change in the way employers are required to report their workplace fatalities and serious injuries. Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA’s regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees.
Also, all employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records (10 or fewer employees), are required to comply with OSHA’s new reporting requirements.
Ed Foulke, former head of OSHA under George W. Bush and a partner with Fisher & Phillips in Atlanta, calls the injury reporting requirements “significant” on two counts. For one, he says, OSHA has expanded the need for OSHA call-ins by employers, particularly the change from three to one when it comes to hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye. Foulke adds that, to complicate matters, OSHA has expanded the definition of amputations, so that even the loss of the tip of the finger, for example, without bone loss, now is considered an amputation, which is a reportable injury.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,405 workers died on the job in 2013. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, when announcing the new rules on Sept. 11, said workplace injuries and fatalities are “absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”
At the announcement, OSHA said it will not do an inspection based on every report, but rather will “interact” with the employers who file reports. OSHA’s Michaels said the idea is that this interaction will prompt the employers to be more attentive to hazards and to take actions to prevent additional incidents.
Nickole Winnett, a senior associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Jackson Lewis, says the new OSHA rules certainly will mean more reporting for HR departments or risk managers, depending on who has that responsibility. As a result, she says, employers can expect a more intense OSHA focus when an accident occurs at the worksite. She also says, once OSHA decides to do an inspection and comes on a worksite, it can spend additional time looking for other issues. “A relatively minor accident could trigger additional citations,” Winnett says.
It is imperative that employers know what OSHA standards apply to them and make sure they are in full compliance.
If you need assistance with OSHA compliance, contact Kellie Boysen today at 717-855-5589.