On the day that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced the preliminary count of workplace fatalities in 2013, OSHA also revealed changes in injury reporting that will begin in less than four months.
OSHA has changed the circumstances when companies have to report injuries and the industries that are exempt from routinely reporting injury and illness records.
Starting Jan. 1, 2015, employers will be required to notify OSHA of:
- fatalities within eight hours
- in-patient hospitalization of one or more workers within 24 hours, and
- amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours.
Currently, companies only need to report when there are three or more hospitalizations, and the requirements for amputations and eye loss don’t exist.
Soon, companies will be able to report these incidents electronically via a web portal under development by OSHA. No word on exactly when the web portal will be ready.
OSHA’s list of industries with relatively low injury and illness rates that are exempt from routine reporting of injury records now uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Previously, the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system was used. The latest list is also based on more recent injury and illness data from BLS.
The exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees remains.
Fewer fatalities, but count isn’t final
BLS reports a preliminary total of 4,405 workplace fatalities in the U.S. in 2013, compared to the final count of 4,628 for 2012.
The preliminary figure is a 6% decrease compared to final total for the previous year. However, the increase in the number of fatalities counted has risen an average of 165 cases over the last five years. Last year, 245 deaths were added to the preliminary figure. Therefore, the potential exists for the number of fatalities to remain about the same from 2012 to 2013, once BLS finalizes the 2013 report which is expected in late spring 2015.
The preliminary 2013 fatality rate is 3.2 workers per 100,000.
Some other findings from the BLS report:
- 734 of the deceased workers were identified as contractors, more than the 715 reported in 2012. This represents 17% of all the fatalities in 2013.
- Fatalities involving workers under age 16 were substantially lower in 2013.
- Transportation incidents account for 40% of the deaths; violence and other injuries by people or animals, 17%; contact with objects and equipment, 16%; falls, slips, trips, 16%; exposure to harmful substances or environments, 7%; fire and explosions 3%.
- Construction was the industry with the highest number of fatalities, 796; transportation and warehousing, 687; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, 479; government, 476.
- The occupation with the highest number of fatalities was drivers, including sales workers and truck drivers, 748.
BLS will release reports on non-fatal workplace injuries later in the fall.