Workplace safety regulators create the rules that employers need to follow in order to maintain a safe work environment for employees. However, in response to the large number of workplace deaths and injuries in California and other states the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is tightening up its safety regulations. The changes in policy have to do with when employers are required to report on-the-job injury incidences.
The new OSHA rules are set to go into effect at the beginning of next year. The current OSHA regulations only require that employers report a workplace accident only if it requires hospitalizations or causes serious injuries to a minimum of three workers. Also, under the current rules employers are required to report any deaths caused by a work-related accident within eight hours, which will still be in place once the new OSHA rules are set to be implemented.
However, the new rules have now made it a requirement for any serious injuries resulting in hospitalization, loss of an eye or amputation of a limb to be reported within 24 hours. OSHA believes it is important to report these serious injuries because reporting begins a conversation between employers and OSHA on how to prevent future workplace injuries and deaths. Last year there were 4,405 deaths at the workplace, which may have played a role in prompting OSHA to tighten its regulations.
On the other hand, making stricter rules for reporting on-the-job injury accidents will not completely prevent employees being hurt in the workplace in California or in any other state. Therefore, if a worker is injured, it is important for the worker to understand his or her options. One available option is to file a claim for benefits through workers’ compensation. This can be useful in what could be a financially challenging time while recovering from an injury.
Source: The Day, “Labor Department tightens reporting requirements on workplace deaths and severe injuries”, Lee Howard, Sept. 12, 2014