Last week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration updated their rule about reporting and recording work-related injuries. The new rules take effect on January 1, 2015 and expand the reporting requirements for certain injuries. The new rule requires that all fatalities have to be reported within eight hours. In addition, all inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye have to be reported to OSHA within 24 hours. These new reporting requirements cover all employers covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act including those exempt from keeping injury and illness records.
Under the old rule, only fatalities and instances where three or more workers were hospitalized from the same incident had to be reported. The new rule also requires an employer to report any fatality that occurs within 30 day of a work-related injury. Likewise, inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye have to be reported if it occurs within 24 hours of a workplace incident. For example, if a worker suffers an injury but waits 12 hours before going to the hospital and being admitted, the employer is required to report this to OSHA. If that same worker suffered an injury and then waited three days before going to the hospital, the employer is not required to report this to OSHA.
The new rule also made changes regarding which industries are exempt from being required to keep injury and illness records. Construction has never been exempt, but there are some construction-related industries that are now exempt and a couple that are now being required to keep records under the updated rule. Industries now being required to maintain injury and illness records include building material and supplies dealers, commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing as well as those who provide services to buildings and dwellings like landscaping companies.
Construction-related industries that are now partially exempt from maintaining records include architectural, engineering and related services along with specialized design services. The rule remains that employers with 10 or fewer employees during the previous calendar year are exempt from keeping records regardless of industry classification.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry continues to have the highest number of fatal work injuries of any industry sector. For 2013, the construction industry accounted for 796 of the 3,929 private sector fatalities. This number is down slightly from the 806 fatalities reported in 2012 but still higher than the 738 fatalities in 2011. It should be noted that the 2013 numbers are preliminary and that the when the final numbers were released for the two years prior they had increased from their initial number.