OSHA has updated its reporting and recordkeeping rules for employers. The key item to note is that all employers (regardless of size or number of employees) must now report serious workplace injuries involving hospitalization and fatalities to OSHA or State-led OSHA safety regulators.

Summary of the new OSHA Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule on September 18th that revises employer’s reporting and recordkeeping obligations. The revised rule expands the reporting requirements for severe work-related injuries. The updated rule also modifies the list of industries that must regularly maintain OSHA injury and illness records. In addition to understanding the rule’s requirements, employers should establish response plans that can be implemented in case a reportable injury occurs.

Under the revised rule, all employers under OSHA jurisdiction must notify OSHA of any work-related inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye within 24 hours. This requirement applies regardless of whether an employer is exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements. The previous version of the rule only required reporting if the work-related hospitalization involved three or more employees. OSHA regulations provide for limited exceptions for certain types of hospitalizations and hospitalizations that occur more than 24 hours after the incident. The revised rule retains the requirement that covered employers notify OSHA of any work-related fatality within 8 hours.

If a severe work-related injury or fatality occurs, employers must be able to quickly meet OSHA’s reporting requirements. It is therefore important to have a response plan in place in the event that a reportable injury or fatality occurs. OSHA will frequently (but not always) conduct an onsite investigation in the case of a reportable injury, so employers should be prepared in the event of an OSHA inspection. It is important to understand the root cause of the accident and the steps to be taken to prevent future injuries. It is recommended that the employer contact counsel when faced with a serious workplace injury or fatality to fully understand its rights and obligations.

In conjunction with the revised rule, OSHA is developing an online portal that allows employers to report electronically on workplace fatalities and severe injuries. This online portal supplements existing reporting channels that allow employers to report injuries in person or over the phone.

In addition to expanding reporting requirements, the revised OSHA rule changes the list of industries that must routinely keep records of work-related injuries. The previous list of industries was based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. The new list is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The types of industries that are exempt from regular recordkeeping continue to include finance, insurance, real estate, and parts of the retail and service sectors. The revised rule keeps the blanket recordkeeping exemption for employers of ten or fewer employees, regardless of industry classification.

All employers with more than ten employees will want to compare their NAICS classification with the list of exempt industries to determine their recordkeeping obligations. Covered employers should have a process for collecting and maintaining records on work-related injuries. This process should be communicated to all employees and be included in the company’s workplace safety program.

Employers in states under Federal OSHA jurisdiction must begin complying with the new requirements on January 1, 2015. Employers in states with OSHA approved State Plans should check with their state authorities for implementation dates.

Additional information on the final rule can be found by clicking this link to OSHA’s website.