The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 26, 2014

OSHA tightens injury/fatality reporting rules

By The Building Tradesman

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Sept. 11 announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.

The rule will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction. The announcement follows preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

“Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. We can and must do more to keep America’s workers safe and healthy,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA’s regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.

The AFL-CIO praised the new rule, and said OSHA included most of labor’s proposals in its final version. Predictably, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is “up in arms” about the rule, says The Hill.

Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told The Hill that the new reporting requirements will open the door for OSHA to “go after” more workplaces. “It will make more hospitalizations subject to being reported to OSHA, which will set up OSHA to go after more workplaces for inspections and generate more citations,” Freedman said.

But Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.  By increasing reporting requirements, he explained, OSHA can work more quickly and cooperatively with firms where accidents expose problems.