Contractors must be familiar with the approved methodology for reporting a severe injury or fatality to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Failure to report an incident could lead to citations, fines, license suspension or revocation, and even jail time. In this article, an OSHA defense attorney will discuss the appropriate channels for reporting a severe injury or fatality on the project site and answer some frequently asked questions about the reporting process.
The 5 W’s of Reporting to OSHA
Who: All employers are legally obligated to inform OSHA whenever an employee is injured or killed on the job. This includes work-related hospitalizations, amputations, and visual impairments. The employer should call the nearest OSHA office to file a report. Otherwise, they may call the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA or submit an online form. Employers must have the following information on hand when reporting:
- Business name
- Names of affected employees
- Time of incident
- Location of incident
- Description of the incident
- Name of contact
- Phone number
What: If an employee is severely injured, maimed, or killed while working on the project site, the employer (usually the contractor) must file a report with OSHA.
Where: Only incidents that transpire at the workplace are to be filed with OSHA. Accidents that occurred at home or during non-working hours do not need to be reported.
When: The employer should file a report as soon as possible to avoid a citation, fine, or possible jail time. Workplace fatalities must be reported within eight hours, while instances of in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss must be reported within 24 hours.
Why: It’s important for employers to file a report with OSHA as soon as possible if they want to preserve their license and keep their project on schedule. Additionally, failure to report in a timely manner can lead to citations, fines, and in some cases, jail time.
Frequently Asked Questions
If the local OSHA office is closed, can I report the incident via voicemail, fax, or email?
No. If you cannot report the incident in-person or by telephone, you must report the incident to the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA.
What is OSHA’s definition of “in-patient hospitalization”?
According to OSHA, in-patient hospitalization refers to “formal admission to the in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment. Treatment in an Emergency Room only is not reportable.”
Who is responsible for reporting an incident involving a temporary worker?
The employer who oversees the worker on a day-to-day basis is required to submit the report.
When am I not required to report an incident?
Employers are not responsible if the event resulted from a motor vehicle accident that occurred on a public street or highway (excluding construction work zones). Similarly, injuries that occurred on commercial or public transportation systems are dismissible. Finally, workers who were hospitalized for diagnostic testing or observation exclusively do not need to be reported.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.