OSHA touts severe injury reporting program success

In September 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a review of injury reporting requirements that it instituted in January 2015. At the time, the new rules marked a departure from prior standards because they mandated that employers needed to notify OSHA of certain work injuries within 24 hours of their occurrence. The severe injury categories that required reporting included incidents like amputations, eye losses and inpatient hospital admissions.

The OSHA study concluded that the reporting standards had positive benefits on workplace safety. Over the course of the first year of reporting, OSHA received notifications about 2,644 amputation incidents and 7,636 hospitalizations. Although the study’s authors believe that some 50 percent of employers still fail to report severe injuries, they say that the new practices are encouraging more workplaces to take responsibility for safety.

Upon receiving reports, OSHA often responded by commanding the employers in question to perform their own investigations and report back to the agency with potential solutions. The agency said this method ended up being a better use of resources. It also claimed that placing the onus for safety inspections and improvements on companies instead of merely penalizing them made them more proactive.

Although OSHA is moving towards more efficient methods of promoting workplace safety, these measures are by no means perfect. Companies that failed to follow earlier rules may be just as likely to ignore new reporting requirements, and this might contribute to ongoing unsafe working conditions. Workplace accident victims could experience serious injuries that make it impossible to hold down jobs or pay off medical expenses. While making a workers’ compensation claim is a potential remedy, employers might fight such actions, so it could be helpful to have legal assistance throughout the process.