I wanted to post about something exciting and attention-grabbing to start 2015. What better way than an update on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements, right? Okay, I realize that OSHA and recordkeeping will not generate quite the level of excitement and fascination that I had hoped for (at least for most people), but the updates that took effect January 1, 2015 are important. So here goes:

1. Expansion of verbal reporting: OSHA has expanded the list of workplace incidents that must be reported by all employers (even those otherwise exempt from recordkeeping requirements, as discussed in #2 below):

  • A workplace fatality must be verbally reported to OSHA within 8 hours,
  • A work-related in-patient hospitalization of one or more employees must be verbally reported to OSHA within 24 hours, and
  • An amputation or a loss of an eye by an employee must be verbally reported to OSHA within 24 hours.

These requirements apply to fatalities that occur within 30 days of a work-related incident, and to in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses that occur within 24 hours of a workplace incident. To qualify as an in-patient hospitalization, the employee must be formally admitted to the hospital for care or treatment; testing or observation at the hospital alone does not require verbal reporting to OSHA.

The 8 and 24 hour time periods to make these verbal reports start when you find out about the incident. For South Florida employers, the report may be made to OSHA’s Ft. Lauderdale area office, the telephone 954-424-0242, or to OSHA’s hotline 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). OSHA is also working on an electronic reporting form, which the agency expects will be available in mid-January 2015. Check OSHA’s website for updates.

2. Updated List of “Partially Exempt” Employers. Employers with 10 or fewer employees, and employers in designated industries are “partially exempt” from OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, meaning that they are not required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, unless required to do so in writing by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a practical matter, this means that these employers do not have to complete and maintain the OSHA 300, 300A and 301 Forms.

There is no change to the partial exemption for employers with 10 or less employees for 2015. However, OSHA has updated the list of the industries that qualify for the partial exemption. Employers should review the revised list to determine if they are now partially exempt in 2015 or if their prior exemption (under OSHA’s old list) has been removed. Keep in mind that even if you are a partially exempt employer, you are still required to follow the reporting requirements for fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations and a loss of an eye described in #1 above.