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New OSHA Reporting Rules for Injured Workers

On September 11, OSHA released new reporting rules for workers injured on projects that fall (no pun intended) under federal OSHA jurisdiction.  The new record keeping rules will go into effect on January 1, 2015.  This rule will likely impact a number of contractors and subs that were operating under the old rules or skirting the rules entirely.

The new reporting rules require that employers notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.  The American Subcontractors Association newsletter said that “The rule tightens the reporting rules significantly.  The current rules required employers to report work related fatalities or in-patient hospitalizations for three or more employees.”  Reporting of single person hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye were not required under the existing rules, but that has changed.

Now any single severe injury, illness or death requires the employer to notify OSHA.  Timing has changed as well under the new rule.  Fatalities must be reported within eight hours while severe injuries, illnesses, amputations and eye loss must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours.

According to OSHA, “All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA's new severe injury and illness reporting requirements.  To assist employers in fulfilling these requirements, OSHA is developing a Web portal for employers to report incidents electronically, in addition to the phone reporting options.”

The list of exempt industries has also been updated to reflect those industries where injuries and deaths are low.  The new ruling is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

One of our concerns is this statement.  “The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.”

Based on our work on misclassification and the current process where contract workers injured on construction projects are being dumped on the Emergency Room doorsteps, that exemption does two things: first, it encourages more companies to misclassify and secondly it shifts more of the burden to those companies who report and comply with the rules and laws.

You can read more on OSHA’s Updates to their Recordkeeping Rule.

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