By: Thomas H. Welby Published: November 2014

OSHA's Updated Reporting and Recordkeeping Rules

OSHA recently released new, updated rules regarding the reporting of fatalities and severe injuries and illnesses.  These rules apply to states under federal OSHA jurisdiction (which include New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut).

At present, employers must report to OSHA all work-related fatalities, and all work-related hospitalizations of three or more employees.

Effective January 1, 2015, employers will be required to report:

  • All work-related fatalities;
  • All work related, in-patient hospitalizations of one or more employees;
  • All work-related amputa­tions; and
  • All work-related losses of one or both eyes.

As at present, fatalities will have to be reported to OSHA within eight hours of the employer finding out about it.  In-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses will have to be reported within 24 hours of the employer learning of them.

Only fatalities occurring within 30 days of the work-related incident must be reported.  An in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss will be reportable only if occurring within 24 hours of the work-related incident.

Employers have two, and will soon have three, options for reporting fatalities and the other incidents required to be reported:

  • By phone, to your local area office (the Tarrytown area office number is 914-524-7510, and the Albany area office number is 518-464-4338);
  • By calling the 24-hour OSHA hotline (1-800-321-6742); or
  • Electronically, through a soon-to-be-released system to be accessible through OSHA’s website, www.osha.gov.

Upon reporting any of the above occurrences to OSHA, all of the following information must be provided:

  • The name of the establishment;
  • The location where the work-related incident took place;
  • The date and time of the incident;
  • The type of incident (fatality, loss of eye, etc.);
  • A brief description of the incident;
  • The number of employees affected;
  • The name(s) of all affected employees;
  • The name and telephone number of a contact person for the employer.

Certain types of incidents are not required to be reported.  For example, injuries, etc. resulting from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway are not required to be reported, unless the accident happened in a construction work zone.

Likewise, incidents occurring on a commercial or public transportation system (airplane, subway, bus, ferry, streetcar, light rail, train) do not need to be reported.

Events occurring more than 24 hours after the work-related incident (or 30 days thereafter in the case of a fatality) are not required to be reported.

Finally, in-patient hospitalizations (defined as a formal admission to an in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment) do not need to be reported, if admission was for diagnostic testing or observation only.  If, however, it is determined following admission that the employee suffered a heart attack due to a work-related incident, that must be reported.

The new rules also revise the manner in which OSHA classifies industries to determine which are “low hazard” industries, “partially” exempt from the rules requiring the maintenance of injury and illness records.  In general, the industries classified as “low hazard” are those with Lost Workday Injury and Illness rates 75% or less of the average rate for all of private industry.  Also, OSHA is switching from the “Standard Industrial Classification System” to the “North American Industry Classification System.”  While few, if any, construction-related companies are classifiable as “low-hazard” under either system, the record-keeping requirements apply only to employers having 11 or more employees at any time during the preceding calendar year.  (The exemption for size is based on the number of employees in the entire company, not just field employees.)

OSHA refers to the low-hazard industries as “partially exempt” because they may be required to keep records, on notice from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the BLS’s annual survey, or by OSHA, as part of the OSHA Data Initiative.  Note that even partially exempt employers must comply with the rules requiring that fatalities, hospitalizations, etc. be reported.  If you have any question concerning your company’s possible status as a “low-hazard” employer, instructions for determining if your company’s primary business activity qualifies it for such status may be found on OSHA’S website, or you can contact your local OSHA office for help.

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations, certain employers must prepare and maintain records of significant occupational injuries and illnesses, using the OSHA 300 Log.  The data in these logs is used to evaluate the safety of the employer’s workplace, but also in identifying hazards, and developing measures to reduce and eliminate them.

I assume that nearly all readers of this series are already familiar with OSHA Form 300 (the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses), Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report).  The “Summary” (Form 300A) must be completed and posted annually, even if no recordable work-related injuries or illnesses occurred during the year.  The “Log” and “Incident Report” need to be completed only if a recordable injury or illness has occurred.  Forms equivalent to the official forms (such as an insurance form instead of the Incident Report, supplemented if appropriate to provide information, if any, not on the insurance form, that the Incident Report requires) may be used.

Still pending is a proposed rule that would permit OSHA to cite employers for discouraging workers from reporting injuries or illnesses.  OSHA is looking to deter employers from using incentive programs, such as rewarding workers for a fixed number of days without a reportable injury, to discourage workers from reporting when they are injured or made sick on the job.

A copy of the Final Rule can be found online at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=24728.  OSHA’s website has a recordkeeping section, which may be accessed at https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/.

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