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OSHA Tightens Grip on Employers with new Reporting Requirements

Labor and Employment Alert | November 18, 2014
By: John K. Baker

Beginning January 1, 2015, OSHA will ask more from all employers with respect to reporting requirements for fatalities and injury/illnesses. Currently, employers are only required to report all workplace fatalities within eight hours of the incident and all workplace injuries or illnesses when three or more workers are hospitalized from the same incident. Employers will now be required to report all work-related fatalities within eight hours of the incident and all work-related “in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of any eye” for one or more employees within twenty-four hours. The U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA, views hospitalizations and amputations as “sentinel events,” signaling that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and intervention is necessary to protect the other workers.

In addition, “in-patient hospitalization” in the new rule is defined as “formal admission to the in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment.” Stated otherwise, if the hospital admission is for mere observation or diagnostic testing only, an incident is not required to be reported.

Reporting has always been available by calling the employer’s geographic OSHA Area Office or by calling the 1-800-321-OSHA hotline. The new regulations also include another means for reporting, such as electronic submission through a web portal page at www.osha.gov.

Under the new regulations, recordkeeping requirements will also change. To this end, OSHA has amended a list of certain industries that are not required to maintain injury and illness records. However, these employers must continue to report all work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses; the change in the regulation affects only the requirement to maintain injury and illness records. Generally, the exceptions are made based on company size and industry classification. It remains that employers with ten or fewer employees still need not keep injury and illness records unless they are told to do so by OSHA. New York and New Jersey have their own state-run safety program. In those states, their state-run programs apply to governmental employers, and OSHA applies to private employers. OSHA covers governmental and private employers in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Delaware. The revised list can be obtained directly from OSHA.

For more information on OSHA or labor and employment matters, please contact John K. Baker (610.782.4913, bakerj@whiteandwilliams.com) for further assistance.

This correspondence should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult a lawyer concerning your own situation and legal questions.
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