You might have to call OSHA!
It has been a busy year at the Department of Labor and Employment and it seems there have been more substantial updates in the past couple of years than ever before. Were you aware that even if you have only 2 employees or are in a partially exempt industry, you may have to call OSHA in certain situations?
Effective January 1, 2015, all employers are required to call in specific situations. And don’t try and leave a message, the law requires that you actually talk to someone. So when do you have to call? It’s pretty simple:
All employers are required to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
All fatalities must be reported within 8 hours. This means that even if an employee has a heart attack and dies, you have to call OSHA and let them do their thing. If you don’t call, you can be fined, cited and have the possibility of jail time (depending on their investigation). For the other injuries, you have 24 hours to report. There are 3 ways to report:
- Phone (if there is a fatality, this is the only way). 1-800-621-6742 (24 hour hotline #).
- Call the nearest OSHA office or
- File online (not an option for fatalities).
There are questions on what classifies an amputation, so let’s talk about that for just a second. OSHA uses the following definition:
“An amputation is the traumatic loss of all or part of a limb or other external body part. This would include fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached. If and when there is a health care professional’s diagnosis available, the employer should rely on that diagnosis.”
The key part to remember is that it does not have to include the bone. If an employee cuts off the very tip of their finger, you have to call OSHA. They also indicate one exception.
You do not have to report incidents “if it: Resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway (except in a construction work zone); Occurred on a commercial or public transportation system, such as airplane or bus; Involved hospitalization for diagnostic testing or observation only.”
In all other cases, pick up the phone. It is important to remember, that even if you have called them, they may not inspect onsite. Sometimes, they conduct phone interviews or request written documentation. Often, this will depend on how you answer their questions and what information you provide. We never recommend attempting to hide anything and in all cases, give us a call and let us help you.
We help employers respond using the right words in the right way and help muddle through any confusing documents. Submitting too much information can be just as damaging as not providing enough- we know where that line is drawn. Do not lie and do not avoid answering questions.
If you are in a State run program and not governed by Federal OSHA, your reporting requirements might vary slightly. Even State programs must meet a minimum of those outlined by the Federal program. If you aren’t sure, call us- it’s our job to find out those details for you. 1-877-646-4974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.