Who Ya Gonna Call? First, 911. After that? OSHA!
It used to be that “if there was something strange in your neighborhood” (or your workplace), you knew who to call: the Ghostbusters!
In 2015, new reporting rules released by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) may force you to rethink your first steps when an urgent situation arises in the workplace.
Of course, any workplace emergency is serious and your first call – in real life – should be to 911 or your local emergency medical service (EMS) agency.
After that, chances are you need to notify OSHA…and fast.
If a work-related employee fatality takes place at your workplace, you need to report it to OSHA within eight hours…and you always did (this has been the standard requirement for years).
However, what about work-related employee injuries or illnesses? OSHA now requires you to notify them within 24 hours for such injuries or illnesses if they lead to an in-patient hospitalization or if they result in an amputation (of a limb) or the loss of an eye.
Of course, you’d be hard-pressed to think of a situation in which an employee loses a limb or eye that doesn’t require hospitalization! But then again, OSHA clearly wants to make sure you don’t have any doubts just in case someone loses and eye or arm at your workplace and confidently shares that they can “just suture the wound at home” on their own…
Under the prior regulations, employers were required only to report illnesses and injuries to OSHA that were incurred in “catastrophes”, which meant a situation that sent three or more employees to the hospital.
OSHA says the goal of the new regulation is to close a gap in what OSHA learns about serious non-fatal workplace injuries across the nation.
Employers may make the required report to OSHA by contacting their OSHA area office, or by calling the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). They may also use the online reporting portal that is available (at least will be available soon) on the OSHA website at www.osha.gov.
Remember also that if your company has 10 or more employees or is in an OSHA-defined high-risk industry, you are also required to keep safety logs. This requirement has not changed, although OSHA updated the list of applicable sectors to which the rules apply. For example, new sectors now covered by the OSHA record-keeping regulations include automotive dealerships, performing arts companies and specialty food stores.
Just to be clear: Most employers need to comply with the OSHA record-keeping requirement, but ALL employers (regardless of number of employees or industry sector) need to comply with the newly revised reporting requirements for injuries, illnesses or fatalities.
Bottom Line: Workplace safety is serious business and every employer needs to know the rules and responsibilities for communicating with OSHA in the event of an incident. Remember: First, call 911. After that, call OSHA. The Ghostbusters will just have to wait.
Updates to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule
OSHA 29 CFR, Par 1904, Subpart E – Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness
Employers face rigorous OSHA injury-reporting rules in 2015
Image Credit: whalenjack (flickr @ creative commons)