Since Jan. 1, 2015, employers have been required to report any severe work-related injury – defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye – within 24 hours. The requirement that an employer report a workplace fatality within eight hours remains in force. In the first year of the new requirement, employers notified OSHA of more than 10,000 severe work-related injuries, creating the opportunity for the agency to work with employers to eliminate hazards and protect other workers.
“Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation” found that in the first full year of the program, employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations. In a majority of those cases, OSHA responded by working with the employer to identify and eliminate hazards, rather than conducting a worksite inspection.
“In case after case, the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers we wouldn’t have had contact with otherwise,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, who authored the report. “The result is safer workplaces for thousands of workers.”
OSHA found some employers exceeded the agency’s requirements to protect workers from future incidents. Unfortunately, a few responded with what the agency calls “callous disregard.” In one case, an employer tried to hide an entire room full of machinery from OSHA inspectors.
The evaluation of 2015 results, which breaks out the top 25 reporting industries, notes that by instituting the requirement, the agency can better target resources where needed, and engage employers in high-hazard industries to identify and eliminate hazards. The evaluation finds the reporting requirement is meeting both goals.
“We are confident that the events triggered by these reports have eliminated the potential for many more thousands of injuries in U.S. workplaces,” wrote Michaels in the report.
“OSHA will continue to evaluate the program and make changes to improve its effectiveness,” Michaels wrote in the report. “We are also seeking new ways to make sure that small employers know about their reporting obligations and the resources available to them.”
“What we have seen over and over again is that the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for employers to work with OSHA specialists to keep similar incidents – or worse – from happening again,” Michaels wrote.