By Evan Gurley
Safety and injuries are never fun topics to talk about, but they’re important to discuss, especially when procedural changes are made. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised two key elements in its record keeping rule that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. The two revisions will affect how precasters record and report injuries.
The rule updates the list of industries that are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep OSHA injury and illness records due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates. The previous list was based on the old Standards Industrial Classification system and outdated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new list is based on the North American Industry Classification System and injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2007, 2008 and 2009. The new rule retains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of industry classification.
The rule also expands the list of severe, work-related injuries that all employers must report to OSHA. The revised rule still requires employers to report all work-related fatalities within eight hours and adds that the loss of an eye, work-related inpatient hospitalizations and amputations must be reported within 24 hours. Inpatient hospitalizations are only reportable if they occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident. The hospital or clinic determines whether the worker was formally admitted as an inpatient.
Establishments located in states under federal OSHA jurisdiction must now comply with the new requirements. Establishments located in states that operate non-federal safety and health programs should check with their state plan for the implementation date of the new requirements.
The final rule allows OSHA to focus its efforts more effectively to prevent fatalities and serious work-related injuries and illnesses. It also allows more access to information about workplace safety for employers, employees, researchers, and the public, which increases their ability to identify and abate serious hazards.
According to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, “OSHA will now receive crucial reports of fatalities and severe work-related injuries and illness that will significantly enhance the agency’s ability to target our resources to save lives and prevent further injury and illness. This new data will enable the agency to identify the workplaces where workers are at the greatest risk and target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources accordingly.”
Thoughts on the rule change
Speaking on the new OSHA rule change, Don Graham, director of safety for Jensen Precast, said, “For us it meant a lot more communication, especially for our plants in California. California already has the same reporting requirements as OSHA, so when I communicated these proposed changes to our other locations I had to leave out the California plants. This would have confused our California locations.”
When addressing challenges of the OSHA rule change, Graham said it’s hard to determine when to contact OSHA. For example, if there’s an injury and the employee is taken to the hospital, information on the condition of the employee is restricted due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act laws. However, if OSHA is contacted after determining the employee’s condition, 72 hours or more may go by and it could result in receiving a fine of up to $5,000.
Since Graham has been dealing with these regulations in California for some time now, his advice is to call OSHA and let them know you have had an injury that may lead to hospitalization. Inform them that you will call back with more information. You have now reported within the timeframe OSHA states and will not suffer any penalties. He said an employer should still be prepared to receive a visit from OSHA even after the call is made.
Evan Gurley is a technical services engineer with NPCA.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration: www.osha.gov
How to Report Incidents
OSHA’s website lists three different methods that can be used to report an incident:
- Call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742)
- Call your nearest OSHA area office: osha.gov/html/RAmap.html
- Submit an electronic form: osha.gov/report_online/
For guidance completing the forms: www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/
What if the fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye does not occur during or right after the work-related event?
- If the fatality occurs more than 30 days after the work-related incident or if the inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye occurs after more than 24 hours after the work-related incident, you do not have to report the event to OSHA. However, if you are required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, you must record the event.
I don’t have to keep OSHA records because my company has fewer than 10 employees. Do I still have to report these events?
- Yes, all employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report fatalities, inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye to OSHA, even if they are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA records.
What information do I have to give to OSHA when I report the fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye?
- The establishment name
- The location of the work-related incident
- The time of the work-related incident
- The type of reportable event
- The number of employees who suffered a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye
- The names of the employees who suffered a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye
- Your contact person and his or her phone number
- A brief description of the work-related incident