OSHA’s new injury reporting requirements took effect Jan. 1, 2015. The agency recently released the number of severe injury reports it received in 2015, and what actions it took against those employers.
Starting Jan. 1, 2015, all companies were required to report any severe work-related injury to OSHA within 24 hours. That includes inpatient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye. Companies are also required to report workplace fatalities within eight hours.
OSHA received reports of 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations in the first full year of the program. The agency responded to 62% of the reports not by sending an inspector, but by asking employers to conduct their own incident investigations.
OSHA is calling this approach Rapid Response Investigations (RRI). The agency describes how it works with the example of a report it received from a Hawaii tuna cannery following a worker’s finger amputation.
The employer talked with OSHA via phone the day of the incident. By the next week, the company had a detailed report of the accident and had designed and installed an improved guard on the machine that injured the worker.
Not all of the reports had the same result. OSHA responded to about a third of all reports (and 58% of amputation reports) with an inspection if the compliance officer felt the hazards warranted one.
OSHA says the inspections have opened the door to some fast-emerging industries that aren’t usually on its radar, such as suppliers to oil and gas operations.
The agency lauded the new requirements as a success, but says many employers are still hiding injuries. OSHA believes 50% or more severe injuries aren’t being reported, based on injury claim numbers provided by state workers’ compensation programs.
Some employers have figured the penalty for not reporting an injury are low. But OSHA is warning companies the fine for not reporting can be $7,000. One company that willfully failed to report a severe injury was fined $70,000.
In a press release, OSHA chief David Michaels said:
“In case after case, the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers we wouldn’t have had contact with otherwise. The result is safer workplaces for thousands of workers.”
What do you think of OSHA’s new injury reporting requirements? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.