The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released revised severe injury rule that places on all employers an obligation to notify OSHA within eight hours whenever a worker is killed on the job, and within 24 hours when a worker is injured severely enough to require hospitalization.
Under the previous rule, while employers were required to report work-related fatalities, when it came to hospitalizations, they were only required to report those involving three or more employees. Now, employers will have to report individual hospitalizations, as well as amputations or the loss of an eye.
The new rule will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, for all workplaces that fall under federal OSHA jurisdiction. Unfortunately, it also extends the exemption from reporting worker injuries and illnesses for those employers with 10 or fewer employees. That exemption applies regardless of industry. However, all employers who are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, including those who are exempt, will be required to comply with OSHA’s new reporting requirements. To make it easy for all employers, OSHA will soon introduce a web portal for employers, through which they will be able to report every incident electronically, as well as by phone.
In addition to instituting new reporting requirements, OSHA has also updated its list of industries that are exempt from routine reporting requirements. The new list has been updated, and exemptions are only given to those industries that have relatively low occupational injury rates. They used updated data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which just released its 2013 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.
OSHA officials note that all workplace injuries and fatalities are potentially preventable, and the new reporting requirements will put a greater onus on employers to prevent accidents, because they make employers more accountable for prevention. They believe that any employer who knows that OSHA is aware of a serious injury at their workplace is more likely to be far more careful to make sure another one doesn’t happen.
It’s good that OSHA is trying to do a better job of keeping workplaces safe, and the state of Texas should certainly join them in that effort. It is always the employer’s responsibility when a worker is injured or killed on the job, and they are usually negligent when something bad happens.