Heads up: OSHA has cranked up the fine for failing to report workplace injuries in the time required.
OSHA just issued a new guidance memorandum — Revised Interim Enforcement Procedures for Reporting Requirements under 29 C.F.R. 1904.39 — to its inspectors. But there’s a clear warning in it for employers as well: Follow OSHA’s reporting requirements or pay dearly.
The memorandum raises the maximum penalty for not reporting fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations and eye losses from $1,000 to $5,000 — that’s a 400% jump.
It does not, however, change an area director’s authority to raise the penalty to as much as $7,000 if he or she determines the higher fine is necessary to create a “deterrent effect.”
Under OSHA’s new reporting rules, which took effect in 2015, here’s what employers are required to:
- Report the death of an employee as a result of a work-related incident within eight hours. This applies to fatalities that occur within 30 days of the work-related incident.
- Report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations of at least one employee within 24 hours.
- Report all work-related amputations within 24 hours.
- Report all work-related losses of an eye.
Employers don’t have to report a fatality or injury if any of these apply:
- It is not work-related.
- It resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway, unless it occurred in a construction zone.
- It occurred on a commercial or public transportation system.
- It occurred more than 30 days after the work-related incident in the case of a fatality — or more than 24 hours after the work-related incident in the case of an in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.
How to report?
Here’s how to report an injury:
- By telephone or in person to the OSHA Area Office that is nearest to the site of the incident.
- By telephone to the OSHA toll-free central telephone number — 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742).
- By electronic submission using the reporting application located on OSHA’s public website.
The memorandum also outlines that OSHA may decide to conduct inspections on a randomized basis of closed Rapid Response Investigations (RRIs).
After an injury is reported, OSHA can decide whether to investigate the incident or not using an RRI, which consists of OSHA sending a letter to the employer and the employer agreeing to conduct its own internal investigation, and then report back to OSHA.
The memorandum states that even after an RRI is closed, OSHA may still come on-site to confirm the abatement of hazardous conditions that resulted in the reported injury. But it assured employers that the inspection will be limited to the “previously reported condition.”