On January 1st of this year, new federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements with regard to injury and illness went into effect. Two crucial changes were made regarding recording and reporting employee injuries sustained while on the job. Employers should be prepared to expect a more aggressive approach to workplace inspections as well.
Starting this year, ALL covered employers, regardless of size or industry exemption, must report to OSHA:
- All work-related inpatient hospitalizations (as opposed to the former rule of three employees admitted), amputations and losses of eye within 24 hours
- All work-related fatalities within 8 hours
In addition, OSHA expanded the definition of amputations, so that even the loss of the tip of the finger, for example, without bone loss, is considered an amputation and is a reportable injury.
Ed Foulke, former head of OSHA, says that the changes “could lead to huge numbers in terms of reporting.”
Employers can report workplace injuries by calling OSHA at (800)-321-OHSA (6742), by calling their local OSHA office, or using OSHA’s online form.
In addition to the types of injuries that must be reported, OSHA made changes regarding internal record keeping. For example, the following industries, which were previously exempted due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are now required to routinely keep injury and illness records:
- Automotive dealerships
- Museums and historical sites
- Building supplies dealers
- Specialty food stores
- Beer, wine, and liquor stores
While the above industries were added this year, there remain two types of employers that continued to be exempt –employers with 10 or fewer employees during the previous calendar year AND any establishments meeting specific low-hazard industry standards, including retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate and the service industry (some exceptions may apply).
To learn more about OSHA 2015 changes in detail go to: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping2014/OSHA3745.pdf
All covered employers are required to display a poster listing OSHA requirements in a conspicuous place where workers can see it. In addition, employers should regularly check their workplace to ensure that that they are providing a safe work environment for staff and to rectify potential safety problems as soon as possible.
Already this year, fines have been were assessed against two New Jersey businesses. In June, industrial gas manufacturer, Walco Acetylene, was fined nearly $60K for their failure to address gas-related infractions, and, construction company, Express Construction 3 Corporation, was fined over $112K for exposing workers to falls and safety hazards.
Take steps today to understand your obligations under OSHA … you’ll be better off safe than sorry!