The new year brought new changes to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administrations’ (“OSHA”) work injury reporting requirements for employers. Prior to January 1, 2015, employers were required to report fatalities occurring at the workplace and incidents that required three or more employees to be hospitalized. Beginning on January 1, 2015, OSHA now requires employers to report any injuries or illnesses that occur at the workplace and require only one employee to be hospitalized. The employer of the injured worker must report the work injury or illness to OSHA within 24 hours of their first knowledge of the hospitalization.
This new OSHA injury reporting rule was enacted to help OSHA better track workplace injuries so that they may use the information about each injury in a useful way to try to prevent future injuries from occurring on the job site. Employers can expect more frequent OSHA inspections after an injury requiring a hospitalization and can expect that emergency medical responders will also be reporting the injury to OSHA.
The duty to report an outpatient hospitalization following a work injury is limited to occurrences within 24 hours of the work related event. Even if the hospitalization occurs after 24 hours of the event, employers are still required by OSHA to record the illness or injury in its OSHA illness and injury records. Employers must report the hospitalization to OSHA be phone or on OSHA’s website. An employer’s failure to timely report these incidents can result in an OSHA citation.
Impact on Workplace Injury Claims
In addition to requiring employer’s to report hospitalizations that occur within 24 hours after an event, the new OSHA rule requires employers to report any heart attacks suffered by employees at the workplace that are work related. An employer’s report to OSHA can help your workplace injury attorney establish that your injury, occupational illness or heart attack was in fact caused by conditions present at the work place. Employers have been known to choose to not complete formal accident reports because of their fear that the documentation will be used against them in future legal proceedings (such as a workers’ compensation or third party negligence claim) and because they wish to deny that such an incident ever took place.
Conversely, if an employer knew or should of known of an event that gave rise to an illness, injury or heart attack, and did not report this to OSHA, this evidence can be powerful for a plaintiff’s attorney to establish that the employer attempted to cover up the incident. As with all work injury claims, it is extremely important to document the incident as soon as possible. Most injured workers are not able to do so, therefore it is important for an injured worker or their family members to contact an attorney to help preserve all evidence to maximize compensation for the harm caused by a workplace injury.