OSHA Slipped in New Injury Report Rules Last Fall

  • Feb 9, 2016
  • OSHA
  • Dennis J. Merley

Many employers may have missed this but effective October 1, 2015, Minnesota OSHA began enforcing new injury reporting requirements.  Under the old rule, employers were required to report each work-related incident resulting in fatality or the hospitalization of three (3) or more employees within eight (8) hours of the incident.

How the Rules Changed

The new standards require a fatality is the only event that needs to be reported within eight (8) hours.  Otherwise, each in-patient hospitalization, each amputation and each loss of an eye resulting from a work-related incident must be reported within twenty-four (24) hours. Reports must be made to Minnesota OSHA during ordinary business hours, and to the federal OSHA during evenings and weekends.

Once OSHA receives a report, they will contact the employer by phone or send the employer a questionnaire asking for more information concerning the incident. the employer’s safety practices and history of similar incidents, and any actions taken by the employer in response to the incident. Based upon this information, OSHA will categorize the incident to determine whether to conduct an on-site inspection or merely require additional information in order to determine the appropriate agency response.

What Information to Provide

Employers required to make a report should proceed with caution when responding to OSHA inquiries. Be sure to thoroughly review the underlying circumstances of the event according to the applicable safety and health standards.  In addition, make sure that you avoid damaging admissions in case there are statutory or common law claim waiting in the weeds.

Similarly, consider not completing OSHA’s form questionnaire, choosing instead to put in your own letter or position statement that generally covers the topics addressed in the questionnaire.  This allows you to control the narrative and tell the story you want to tell.  This could also help avoid disclosing unhelpful information or providing bait for an OSHA fishing expedition.

Bottom Line

Know your deadlines for submitting injury-related information to OSHA and be cautious in what you say.  Give OSHA what they need but don’t make it easy for them, or anyone else, to find fault with what you did.