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Reporting Injuries and Fatalities to OSHA: What You Need to Know

OSHA

If a serious injury or fatality occurs on the job, do you know the OSHA reporting requirements or do you automatically assume you are exempt? Review the main points to remember now so you are prepared, and then keep the focus on safety so you never have to put this knowledge to use.

Hospital Emergency Room

All employers are required to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, an amputation as a result of a work-place incident, or the loss of an eye on the job.

  • A fatality must be reported within 8 hours.
  • Hospitalization, amputation and eye loss must be reported with 24 hours.
How, Who, What, When, Where, Why

What companies are required to report?

OSHA standards and requirements, including this injury and fatality reporting requirement, apply to most private sector employers in the United States. If your company or organization is not a farm and is not a government sector or organization, then assume this reporting requirement applies. If you really aren’t sure and would like to find out, please call OSHA at 1-800-321-6742 to receive clarification.

What if my organization is not covered by federal OSHA or I know my state has an OSHA State Plan?

Many states operate their own occupational safety and health programs for private sector and/or state and local government workers. Reporting requirements may vary by state, although all states must have or be in the process of developing requirements that are at least as effective as OSHA's. Refer to your State Plan Reporting Requirements for clarification.

How is an injury or fatality reported?

There are three ways you can report a fatality or an injury that was described above.

  1. Call the local OSHA office. Note: If the local area OSHA office is closed, then don’t wait for the office to open, use another method of reporting.
  2. Call the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-6742.
  3. Report online.

What information needs to be reported?

Be prepared to provide the business name, the name(s) of any employees affected, the date/time of the incident, a brief description of the incident including the location, and a contact name and phone number. When reporting the incident online you will be required to provide additional details about the incident so be prepared to get that information quickly so you can provide it to OSHA.

What if the fatality or injury occurred when the employee was driving or was using public transportation to get to or from work?

If there was a motor vehicle accident that occurred in a construction work zone, you must report if the accident resulted in a fatality, hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. However, if the motor vehicle accident occurred on a public street or highway or the employee was on commercial or public transportation (like an airplane, train, subway or bus), you do not have to report. Note: if your company is required to maintain OSHA injury and illness records, the incident will still have to be recorded in those logs.

Scene of Tragic Car Accident, Debris All Over Road

What if the employee was treated at an emergency room or urgent care clinic?

If there was a workplace injury that resulted in care provided at an emergency room or urgent care clinic ONLY, then that does NOT need to be reported if the employee was not admitted to the hospital.

Does cutting the tip of a finger off count as amputation?

Yes, fingertip amputations with or without bone loss do count as an amputation. An amputation is the traumatic loss of all or part of a limb or other external body part.

Who should do the reporting if the employee is a temporary worker?

The employer that provides the day-to-day supervision of the worker must report to OSHA.

What if the employee had a heart attack?

If an employee had a heart attack while on the job that resulted in death or hospitalization, then report the incident and the local OSHA Area Office will decide whether to investigate, depending on the circumstances of the heart attack.

Ambulance

What if there was a job-related incident that didn’t result in a fatality or reportable injury but then it did happen much later after the work incident?

If a fatality occurs within 30 days of a work-related incident, or if there is a hospitalization, amputation or eye loss within 24 hours of a work-related incident, then you must report the event to OSHA and describe the conditions. Note: if your company is required to maintain OSHA injury and illness records, the incident will still have to be recorded in those logs.

What if it’s still not clear after reading the requirements if the incident should be reported to OSHA or not?

If you aren’t sure about the circumstances of the incident or if it occurred on a public street or highway you may want to notify OSHA just in case. Failure to notify OSHA can add a hefty fine and cause add more complications to a difficult situation.

What if the employee was admitted to the hospital but only for observation?

Admission to the hospital does not need to be reported if the purpose is only for observation or diagnostic testing. Hospitalizations that involve care or treatment must be reported.

Will reporting an incident as required automatically result in an OSHA investigation at the job site?

Reporting fatalities and incidents as required will not automatically result in an OSHA site visit, however employees and management should be prepared and trained in how best to react if an OSHA compliance officer does visit the site to complete an investigation.

OSHA Officer Visits Site, Talks to Workers

The details of these requirements can be found in OSHA Standard 1904.39 Reporting Fatality, Injury and Illness Information to the Government.

For a great resource to learn more about exactly which companies and organizations are covered by OSHA, you can download the All About OSHA publication.

While it’s important to be aware of OSHA reporting requirements, it’s equally important that continual improvement of your safety and health program is a priority. Holding regular safety meetings with your crews, teams and staff is the best way to ensure that your company is meeting and exceeding OSHA’s compliance standards as well as improving workplace safety and lowering the risk of safety violations.

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