On September 11, 2014, OSHA announced changes that updated the recordkeeping rules listed in Part 1904 – Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. The revised requirements went into effect on January 1, 2015 and include two key changes. The first change includes revisions made to the list of industries that are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The new rule provides an updated list of low-hazard industries that are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records. The new list of exempt industries can be found at OSHA Recordkeeping 2014 Report and OSHA Fact Sheet.
The second change expands the list of severe work-related injuries and illnesses that all covered employers must report to OSHA. The revised rule retains the current requirement to report all work-related fatalities within eight hours, and adds the requirement to report all inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye within 24 hours. The OSHA Fact Sheet provides an overview on the updates to OSHA’s Reporting and Recordkeeping Rule.
OSHA implemented this rule to allow the Agency to focus their efforts on preventing fatalities and severe work related injuries and illnesses, and to improve access to information related to workplace safety and health. Following these changes to the new injury and illness reporting requirements, OSHA has developed enforcement procedures to deal with the injury and illness reports provided by employers. OSHA issued an internal 24 page policy memorandum titled: “Interim Enforcement Procedures for New Reporting Requirements under 29 C.F.R. 1904.39” to all Regional Administrators on December 24, 2014 outlining interim enforcement procedures for the new reporting requirements. The interim enforcement procedures are listed in the OSHA Interim Enforcement Procedures for New Reporting Requirements (PDF).
Once OSHA receives the initial report of severe injury or illness, they will send the reporting employer a questionnaire that asks about the cause of the accident, and whether similar accidents have occurred at the worksite. Upon receipt of the completed questionnaire, and depending on the type of reported injury, OSHA will assign one of three categories to the investigation. The category will determine whether to open an inspection which will include an actual on-site visit, or to initiate a “Rapid Response Investigation (“RRI”). Reports are classified as “Category 1”, “Category 2” or “Category 3”.
Category 1 – Includes fatalities, inpatient hospitalizations of two or more employees, known history of multiple injuries, repeat offenders, hazards covered by an emphasis program, imminent dangers, or injuries to employees younger than 18 years of age. For reports characterized as Category 1, on-site inspections will be automatic.
Category 2 – Includes incidents involving the following factors:
- Continued exposure to the hazard that resulted in the injury
- Safety program failure such as Process Safety Management, Lockout/Tagout, etc.
- Exposure to serious hazards such as combustible dusts and falls
- Temporary workers
- Referral from another government agency
- Employers with a prior inspection history
- Employers with a pending whistleblower complaint
- Employers in a cooperative program such as SHARP, VPP, or OSHA Alliance member
- Health issues such as chemical exposure or heat stress
Category 2 incidents may include other criteria and result in an on-site inspection at the discretion of the Area Director.
Category 3 – The remainder of incidents will be placed in Category 3 and will result in a Rapid Response Investigation which, like the traditional “phone and fax” procedure previously in use, employers will be requested to conduct their own investigations and report their findings to OSHA.
Although the new report rule looks simple, it contains unique challenges and requires employers to provide very detailed information to OSHA, whereas prior to 2015, only the information listed in 1910.39 was required for notification of a serious injury or illness.
Where notification to OSHA is required as a result of this new rule, the Agency asks that a written response and supporting documentation, such as “photos, sample results, programs, training records, receipts for equipment, etc.” be submitted to establish that the employer has conducted an investigation and abated the hazard. Since the response is expected to be extensive, and will become part of a permanent record regarding the incident, employers are encouraged to seek assistance from a health and safety professional or advice from counsel prior to submitting their response to OSHA.
Chrysoula J. Komis, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, CHMM
Senior Scientist and Project Manager
215.496.9237 ext. 3102