Several months ago, OSHA proposed to rescind part of its revised workplace injury and illness reporting rule, which was originally issued in May 2016. The rule contained controversial electronic reporting requirements, which OSHA proposes to rescind for the most part (as we discussed in our July 2018 E-Update). As I mentioned in a recent blog post, OSHA Pre-empts CBA Drug-Testing Provisions?, this action caused me to revisit some older guidance on compliance with the surviving aspects of the rule – including the prohibition on discouraging employees from reporting workplace injuries or illnesses.
Many employers have policies that require “immediate” reporting and may even discipline employees for failure to comply with this requirement. Under the 2016 rule, this requirement is problematic. OSHA announced a settlement with U.S. Steel over this issue, which included a reporting policy that other employers can now use as a model for their own reporting procedures. This policy, with U.S. Steel-specific provisions slightly modified, is as follows:
OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS AND INJURY REPORTING POLICY
It is important that all workplace injuries and illnesses are reported to management as soon as reasonably possible after they occur. Prompt reporting allows for prompt identification and correction of hazards and prompt medical attention for injuries. In some instances an employee may not immediately realize that s/he has been injured or made ill. In such circumstances, the employee must report the injury or illness as soon as reasonably possible after becoming aware of the injury or illness.
Therefore, the following policy applies to work‐related injury and illness reporting:
- An employee who is at work when s/he becomes aware of an injury or illness must report it as soon as reasonably possible, but in no event later than leaving the workplace or 8 hours after becoming aware of the injury or illness, whichever is earlier. The report must be made to the employee’s supervisor.
- An employee who is not at work when s/he becomes aware of an injury or illness must report it as soon as reasonably possible, but in no event later than 8 hours after becoming aware of the injury or illness. The employee must report the injury or illness by calling his/her supervisor and explaining that s/he is reporting a work‐related injury or illness.
- No employee who complies with this policy will be disciplined for not promptly reporting an injury or illness.
Supervisors must not interfere with, or attempt to discourage, reporting under this policy.