OSHA has changed the reporting requirements for employers, job site injuries need to be reported within 24 hours. In our Mass Continuing Education courses we ask construction supervisor license (CSL's) holders if they are up to date on the new OSHA reporting requirements and most have no idea.
It is not uncommon for residential contractors to be behind on knowing OSHA updates. OSHA basic training (OSHA 10 and 30 Certification training) is not mandated by OSHA or state laws like it is for commercial tax funded work. The commercial construction industry requires that all workers have at least the OSHA 10 or 30 card to work on their sites. Residential contractors not required to have a certification avoid OSHA training like the plague. The new OSHA injury reporting rule became effective in January of 2015.
It is important for contractors to make sure they are up to date on the rule and that they promptly call OSHA to report covered injuries. Failure to do so can lead to citations and large OSHA fines. Also employers will have a weak position in the event they have to defend a lawsuit from the injured party.
Just imagine the lawyer for the injured worker saying to a jury that the employer doesn't care about his worker. "Not only did he not protect the employee by training and teaching him to work safe, he also neglected to report the injury in a timely manner as required by OSHA."
Here are the reporting requirements for all employers effective January 2016.
All employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report these incidents to OSHA, even employers who are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA records due to company size or industry.
- Fatalities; all employers must notify OSHA of a fatality on their job site within 8 hours. (unchanged form prior rule)
- Loss of an eye; employers must notify OSHA within 24 hours.
- Amputation; employers must notify OSHA within 24 hours. OSHA defines an amputation as the traumatic loss of all or part of a limb or other external body part. This would include fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached. If and when there is a health care professional's diagnosis available, the employer should rely on that diagnosis.
- Injury that leads to a hospitalization; employers must notify OSHA within 24 hours. OSHA defines in-patient hospitalization as a formal admission to the in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment. Treatment in an Emergency Room only is not reportable
If an employee has an injury where they are not admitted to the hospital then you do not have to report. However if the hospital admits the worker then you must call OSHA and provide all the details.
It is important to note that all employers with 11 or more employees are required to make a report to OSHA of injuries and deaths every year. However, exempted employers with less that 11 employees do not have to file an annual report. OSHA counts on these reports to determine which industries have the highest likelihood of injuries and deaths and then plan their outreach and enforcement efforts.
****Many contractors fail to report accidents and often tell employees to say the injury happened at home. These injuries which should be reported, skew the industry numbers. If you are caught trying to not report an injury or telling your employee to lie about where an injury occurred OSHA will cite and fine you.***
From David Michaels, PhD, MPH Ass Secretary of OSHA
Mr, Michaels recently released a report on the first year of reporting. He states, "OSHA believes that many severe injuries — perhaps 50% or more — are not being reported. We base this conclusion on several factors, including injury claim numbers provided to us by state workers’ compensation programs.
He goes on to explain that many smaller businesses do not know about the requirement an that outreach is increasing. He also added that; "In other cases, employers are choosing not to report because they perceive the cost of not reporting to be low. They should know that, now that the requirement is in its second year, OSHA is more likely to cite for non-reporting. In addition, the agency recently increased the un-adjusted penalty for not reporting a severe injury from $1,000 to as much as $7,000. And that amount will increase even more when higher penalty levels recently approved by Congress take effect.
If OSHA learns that an employer knew about the requirement but chose not to report it promptly, the fine can be much higher. Already, one employer has been assessed enhanced penalties of $70,000 for willfully failing to report."
What you need to do when you report;
First you will need to prepare what you are going to say to OSHA as soon as possible after the accident. When you call in they will want to know everything that happened. Be prepared to supply: Business name; names of employees affected; location and time of the incident, brief description of the incident; contact person and phone number. Then they will ask you to document the injury, ask you to report the root cause and what you are going to do to make sure this employee and others are protected from this hazard going forward.
You will have some time to send in your documentation that will be reviewed. They are looking for proof that you are on top of the hazards and that you will promptly correct the situation. It is imperative that your accident investigation shows OSHA that you are correcting the causes that lead to the injury. To help them see you are doing the right thing send in the accident report, proof of training, equipment purchases, written plans and anything else that proves you are on the right safety track to protect your employees.
What happens if you do not send in the proper documentation?
Well more than likely you will get a call and they will be coming out to see you. Many of the employers who reported last year did not have the right answer for OSHA and did not provide the proper documentation resulting in a site visit. One thing to keep in mind is they are looking for who is accountable for the accident. In most cases they believe that injuries are preventable and they likely occurred due to employer lack of training and safety protocol. Also keep in mind that if you do not follow up with information that shows you are taking care of the problem be sure that OSHA will be following up with you.
When reporting, we recommend that you do not blame the employee for the injury.
What happens if you do not report an accident and your employee goes to the hospital?
Many contractors are unaware of what happens when there is an accident on the job site that requires medical care. In a training last week I had a fireman in the class. He told me that EMT's and hospital staff contact OSHA after an accident. It is critical that you make the phone call when within the time frame required. When you do not it is quite possible they will call you.
Under OSHA all employers are required to have a safety program, assess job site hazards, train their workers before they are exposes to hazards how to recognize and avoid them, make sure that the training is effective and provide personal protective equipment. A safety program is documented in a safety manual with written plans and all training must be certified and documented. In your manual you should have a section on Accident Investigation and Reporting that is shared with your employees.
For help on OSHA accident reporting, safety programs or private consultations and training contact us.