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New OSHA reporting rules can increase need of employer defense

Employers from all industries must adhere to various rules and regulations regarding reporting of workplace injuries. Many times, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will change the reporting requirements for employers in California and everywhere else in the country. This is what OSHA recently did when it revised reporting requirements, which will become effective at the beginning of 2016. Failure to properly adhere to these requirements can result in penalties and possibly the need for employer defense action on the part of an employer.

OSHA standards require employers to report deaths resulting from workplace accidents within eight hours of the incident. This is not new since this was already an OSHA mandate in place. However, now OSHA requires employers to file a report when a single worker is hospitalized. Previously, employers were only required to file a report when three or more employees have been hospitalized.

The regulatory agency is now receiving anywhere from 200 to 250 new reports weekly. This is in addition to the already 40 or so reports OSHA had already been receiving under the pre-existing rules for reporting. Along with requirements to report hospitalizations of individual employees, employers will now be required to report all accidents resulting in an amputation or loss of an eye. Approximately 25 percent of new reports were amputations, while less than one percent of new reports included eye injuries.

These new reporting rules will also result in more inspections from OSHA. Approximately, 55 percent of the cases reported under the new rules have resulted in a rapid response investigation, while 38 percent have resulted in on-site OSHA inspections. Therefore, companies will have to pay closer attention to possible employer defense situations that could result from OSHA citations. Legal action may be required for an employer to minimize liability following a workplace injury in California.

Source: tirebusiness.com, "PERSONNEL MATTERS: New OSHA workplace injury rules confuse employers", Oct. 16, 2015

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