Beginning January 1, 2015, OSHA implemented its new severe injury reporting program. It requires employers to report all work-related fatalities within eight hours and all in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses within 24 hours of learning of the incident. The prior rule only required reporting fatalities resulting from a work-related incident or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees as a result of a work-related incident.
Yet, according to a report OSHA issued one year later, employers are reporting fewer serious injuries than expected.
In the first full year of the program, employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, which falls short of OSHA’s 12,000-report estimate.
According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels:
OSHA believes that many severe injuries — perhaps 50% or more — are not being reported. We base this conclusion on several factors, including injury claim numbers provided to us by state workers’ compensation programs.
Because the majority of first year reports were filed by large employers, we believe that many small and mid-sized employers are unaware of the new requirements. For them, we are developing outreach strategies, including working through insurers, first responders, and business organizations.
In other cases, employers are choosing not to report because they perceive the cost of not reporting to be low. They should know that, now that the requirement is in its second year, OSHA is more likely to cite for non-reporting. In addition, the agency recently increased the unadjusted penalty for not reporting a severe injury from $1,000 to as much as $7,000.…
If OSHA learns that an employer knew about the requirement but chose not to report it promptly, the fine can be much higher. Already, one employer has been assessed enhanced penalties of $70,000 for willfully failing to report.
Moreover, under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, these penalties are set to increase by as much as 150%. Can your business afford a $126,000 fine for failing to report a injury? I didn’t think so. Pay close and careful attention to these new reporting rules. OSHA is, and it won’t be kind if it finds that you’re not.