On September 11, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule containing two amendments to the Agency's injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting regulations that will go into effect on January 1, 2015.
The first amendment changes the current requirement for employers to report only work-related fatalities and the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. Under the new rule, employers will also be required to report to OSHA when even a single employee suffers a work-related in-patient hospitalization, an amputation, or the loss of an eye.
OSHA defines "hospitalization" as "a formal admission to the in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment," but not if only for observation or diagnostic testing. OSHA's definition of "amputation" includes "fingertip amputations with or without bone loss, medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage, and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached." It does not include "avulsions (tissue torn away from the body), deglovings (skin torn away from the underlying tissue), scalpings (removal of the scalp), severed ears, or broken or chipped teeth."
While a work-related fatality will still have to be reported within eight hours of the employer's learning of it, the new rule allows employers 24 hours to report a hospital admission, amputation, or loss of an eye. However, if that hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss does not occur within 24 hours of the work-related incident that caused or contributed to it, then the incident need not be reported to OSHA. The new rule also does not change the current provision that requires fatalities to be reported only if the death occurs within 30 days the work-related incident. 29 CFR §1904.39(b)(6).
All employers who are covered by the OSH Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, will continue to be required to comply with the new injury and illness reporting requirements. While currently those reports must be made either by telephone or in-person, employers will be allowed under the new rule to use a Web portal that OSHA is developing to file the reports electronically, in addition to the current phone reporting options. According to OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels, OSHA plans to post the employer reports for some severe injuries and illnesses, and for all fatalities, on the Agency's public website. The reports would then be readily available for unions, public interest groups, the media, and any other individuals or organizations to use for any purpose.
State OSHA agencies are expected to follow suit with similar amendments, although Alaska, California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Utah, and Washington already have their own injury and illness reporting requirements that are similar to, and in some cases more stringent than, the amended Federal OSHA reporting requirement.
The second amendment in the new rule updates the list of industries that are exempted from keeping injury and illness records because of their relatively low occupational injury and illness rates. The new list is based on more recent injury and illness data and uses the newer North American Industry Classification System (NAICS code) instead of the Standard Industrial Classification system (SIC code) that has been used since the OSHA recordkeeping rules were first issued in 1982.
As in the past, the new low-hazard industry exemption applies to individual business establishments. If a company has several establishments that perform different business activities, some of the company's establishments may be required to keep injury and illness records, while others may be exempt. Under the old SIC system, establishments that exist solely to serve other establishments of the same enterprise, like a distribution center, warehouse, or headquarters office, were considered to be "ancillary" to the establishments they serve and take the SIC code of the served establishments. Under the new NAICS system, there are no "ancillary" establishments. Establishments that carry out support activities for other establishments of the enterprise to which they belong are classified according to the NAICS code related to their own activity. This means, for example, that warehouses providing storage facilities for their own company's electronics and appliance stores are classified with the NAICS code for non-exempt warehouses rather than the NAICS code for the stores which will be exempt from keeping injury and illness records. Regardless of the establishment's NAICS code, however, the new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with a total of 10 or fewer employees throughout the company.
The following is OSHA's new list of NAICS codes for low-hazard industries in which establishments are not required to keep injury and illness records, unless specifically requested to do so by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or some other government entity:
Click here to view table.