To kick off 2015, OSHA rolled-out a major change to its Fatality & Injury Reporting Rule to require employers to contact OSHA thousands of times more often to report incidents, which means many more inspections. A year into the new reporting regime now, it seemed like the perfect time to take a look at what is being reported to OSHA and what OSHA is doing with all the new reports.
In addition to employers’ longstanding obligation to report to OSHA all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, as of January 1, 2015, all employers were required to also begin reporting to OSHA within 24 hours, all work-related in-patient hospitalizations (of just a single employee), amputations and losses of an eye . OSHA is publishing the details about these reported injuries online.
We have written extensively about OSHA’s new reporting rule, including articles that:
Under the new reporting rule, employers have three ways to perfect the notification to OSHA. As has been compliant for year, employers may call the nearest OSHA Area Office or call OSHA’s toll-free reporting hotline – 800-321-OSHA.
OSHA was very excited to introduce the new web portal because of the “success” of OSHA’s other recent experiment with web portal reporting – whistleblower retaliation complaints. A couple of years ago, OSHA introduced a convenient web portal for employees to report retaliation complaints, and the number of complaints filed by employees surged.
OSHA believes injuries and fatalities are being under-reported by employers, so OSHA supposed that could be addressed by this more convenient technology.
Requirements of the New Reporting Rule. The reporting rule has been long-referred to informally as the “Fat-Cat” rule because it requires employers to report to OSHA all incidents that result in an employee fatality (Fat) or a catastrophe (Cat). The new regulation redefines catastrophe. Historically, a catastrophe had been defined as an incident that resulted in the overnight hospitalization for treatment of three or more employees. The Agency views the new report triggering events as indicative of serious hazards at a workplace. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels explained that:
“hospitalizations and amputations [are] sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment.”
In addition to lowering the threshold from three to one employee hospitalizations, OSHA also changed the definition of “hospitalization.” Historically, an employee’s overnight hospital stay triggered the reporting requirement. Under the new rule, whether the hospitalization is a reportable event turns not on whether the employee stays overnight, but rather, whether the employee is formally admitted to the “in-patient” service of the hospital or clinic. The visit, however, must involve medical care after the in-patient admission. A hospital visit only for observation or diagnostic testing, even if it involves in-patient admission, does not constitute a reportable event.
The concepts of “formal admission” and “in-patient service” seem to be causing significant confusion in the new rule’s early stages. While OSHA continues to Continue reading →