More stringent reporting mandates for workplace injuries on the horizon

A new OSHA rule aims to heighten transparency for work-related injuries. The agency has changed employer reporting requirements for workplace accidents.

A new OSHA rule aims to heighten transparency for work-related injuries. The agency, responsible for setting and enforcing regulations that ensure safe and healthy workplace environments across the United States and also known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has changed employer reporting requirements for workplace accidents.

According to David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, "the updated record-keeping and reporting requirements are not simply paperwork, but have an important-in fact lifesaving-purpose."

But what is the new rule?

The new OSHA reporting mandate

The new rule essentially stipulates that employers must report to OSHA any work-related incident if the accident requires: the hospitalization of one or more employees, if the accidents results in an amputation, or if an employee loses an eye. The rule requires employers notify OSHA within 24 hours of the work injury.

To compare, the previous mandate required employers to report incidents if three or more employees were hospitalized. There was also no previous reporting rule for amputations or eye injuries.

The new rule essentially expands the reporting requirements for on-the-job accidents. Present estimates suggest that about 170,000 additional incidents will be reported to OSHA as a result of the new mandate, a statistic pointed out by critics of the rule. But agency representatives argue that there are valid reasons behind the push.

Getting ahead

According to Michaels, the change is geared toward getting ahead of the game and allowing OSHA to tackle more workplace safety issues before they take lives. Incidents that employers are now required to report under the new rule are essentially warning signs that can be dealt with early on, he argues. And one former OSHA analyst agrees.

"This is going to provide OSHA and the public much better information about the magnitude of those kind of injuries, what kind of industries they're occurring in, [and] who are the workers that are injured," the analyst suggests.

The incentive

Michaels also says that the new rule will heighten incentives for employers. Statistics on new workplace injuries are widely available to the public and the scrutiny may motivate employers to implement enhanced strategies and procedures to avoid the negative public exposure. Or, as Michaels suggests, motivate some to simply "shape up."

Assistance with workplace injuries

The new amendment will be officially implemented January 2015. Although it's expected to help mitigate accidents, injuries, and deaths in employment arenas, they will all unfortunately still occur. Employees should know that workers' compensation offers benefits in the event they suffer an injury or illness on the job.

Keywords: OSHA, reporting requirements, workplace injuries