New Injury Reporting Requirement Serves Its Purpose

New Injury Reporting Requirement Serves Its Purpose

As of January 1, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has required employers to report severe work-related injuries—such as hospitalizations, amputations or eye loss—with 24 hours of the incident. During the first full year the requirement was in effect, U.S. employers reported 10,388 severe injuries. This included 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations.

The industry that reported the largest number of severe injuries was manufacturing, which accounted for 26 percent of hospitalizations and 57 percent of amputations. Employers in the construction industry reported 19 percent of the hospitalizations and 10 percent of the amputations. Transportation and warehousing had the third largest number of hospitalizations (11 percent), while retail trade and wholesale trade each accounted for 5 percent of the reported amputations. You can review a complete list of severe injuries reported by individual industry at www.osha.gov/injuryreport/2015_by_industry.pdf.

One of the purposes of the new reporting rule was to collect timely information on severe injuries that would enable OSHA to better enforce workplace safety standards and assist employers with compliance. In 62 percent of the severe injury cases reported last year, OSHA utilized its Rapid Response Investigation process, asking the employers involved to conduct their own incident investigations. They also provided guidance materials and requested that employers propose their own solutions to prevent such injuries from occurring in the future.

In OSHA’s official impact evaluation report, the author (assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health) writes, “We have found this process to be extremely effective in abating hazards while also using far fewer OSHA resources than are required for on-site inspections. In this way, we are able to use agency resources more efficiently and, ultimately, better protect the safety and health of workers.”

In about 33 percent of the severe injury cases (including 58 percent of those involving amputations) OSHA determined a site inspection by a compliance officer was warranted. Not only did these inspections help resolve immediate safety issues in the workplaces under inspection, but OSHA reports they often inspired larger changes in the employer’s overall safety program. In many cases, employers created incentive programs to reward their staff for taking an active role in injury prevention. In others, employers hired safety consultants to review their practices or utilized OSHA’s free on-site consultation program.

Unfortunately, OSHA believes that some employers—especially those who are small- or mid-sized—are still not reporting severe injuries as required. They hypothesize that many are not aware of the requirements, and they’re developing an outreach strategy to educate them. In some cases, they believe employers are ignoring the requirements because they believe any fine they may incur will be less than the cost of remedying safety issues. OSHA would like these employers to know that they’ve recently increased the penalty for failure to report a severe injury from $1,000 to as much as $7,000. In the event it is determined that the employer was aware of the reporting requirement but chose not to report a severe injury promptly, the fine will be even higher. According to the impact evaluation report, one such employer has already been charged with $70,000 in penalties.

If you’d like a review of your workplace safety program or further information on OSHA’s severe injury reporting requirements, we’re here to help. Give us a call today to set up an appointment for an evaluation.

Following OSHA Reporting Rules: Temporary Worker Injury?

Following OSHA Reporting Rules: Temporary Worker Injury?

Temporary workers are common in today’s businesses. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, temporary help employment was up 8 percent year over year in August. Whether you’re running a call center, a retail establishment, a medical center, a manufacturing plant or a construction site, it’s quite possible you’ve supplemented your staff in the past with temporary workers hired through a staffing agency or firm. However, have you been following the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules for recording temporary worker injuries and illnesses?

In a temp worker and staffing agency situation, many employers are confused about how to determine who is responsible for satisfying particular OSHA requirements. While both—the staffing agency and the host employer—are responsible for complying with laws related to workplace safety, any injuries and illnesses only need to be recorded on one party’s log. Supervision is generally the determining factor.

The employer who supervises the temporary workers on a day-to-day basis is responsible for recording any work-related illnesses or injuries they incur. According to 29 CFR 1904.31(a), day-to-day supervision means the employer “supervises the details, means, methods and processes by which the work is to be accomplished” in addition to “specifying the output, product or result to be accomplished by the person’s work.” This is the case at most businesses that employ temporary workers—so most host employers are the party responsible for maintaining illness and injury records.

In some cases, a staffing agency may have a representative present at the host employer’s workplace. However, the presence of this agent does not usually transfer the record-keeping responsibilities away from the host employer. As long as the host employer continues to provide day-to-day supervision of the temporary worker, he is responsible for recording any work-related injuries and illnesses.

It’s important that the staffing agency and host employer coordinate their methods for the reporting of work-related illnesses and injuries and communicate those instructions to the temporary workers. Should a temporary worker be involved in a workplace accident, the host employer should inform the staffing agency. If the staffing agency learns of an illness or injury, they should confirm that the host employer is aware of it. Any contract you form with a staffing agency should contain language clearly establishing these notification procedures.

To learn more about your responsibilities when employing temporary workers through a staffing agency, visit the OSHA website. For additional assistance understanding reporting rules or workplace safety regulations, contact your workplace safety advisor.