• Gary Visscher, Esq.

OSHA Issues Interpretation on Reporting Serious Injuries

OSHA’s serious injury reporting rule, 29 C.F.R. 1904.39, requires employers to report to OSHA any fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye caused by a work-related incident. The rule requires fatalities be reported within 8 hours and hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of an eye be reported within 24 hours. Hospitalizations, amputations, and loss of an eye which occur within 24 hours of a work-related incident must be reported. An employee’s death must be reported to OSHA if it occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident.

What happens if, after reporting the incident to OSHA on one of the three bases, a second basis for reporting the incident occurs? For example, a worker is initially admitted to a hospital, which the employer reports to OSHA, and subsequently passes away from the injuries suffered. Or, an employee is admitted to the hospital, which the employer reports, and while in the hospital, the employer’s arm is amputated due to the work-related injury. Must the employer submit a second report to OSHA?

That was the question to which OSHA provided a recent Letter of Interpretation. According to the Letter, “[i]t is not OSHA’s intention that related events, each of which are reportable under section 1904.39, be reported twice.” As long as the initial hospitalization is reported within the 24-hour period, the employer is not required to report the second event to OSHA.

OSHA’s Letter of Interpretation also reminds employers that OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping rule requires that employers record the most serious outcome for any work-related injury. “[E]ven though employers do not have to report the second event, they still need to record the most serious outcome for each case on their OSHA injury and illness records.” Thus, for example, an incident which initially results in restricted work but later requires surgery and days away from work must reflect the more severe outcome on the OSHA Form 300.

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