Requirements for Reporting Serious Workplace Injuries

May 10, 2016

We go to work each day to earn a living. When the place where you work causes you to become injured so that you are unable to work, every state has a no-fault workers’ compensation program that pays partial wage replacement and medical expenses for workplace injury-related accidents. In 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), required that organizations with more than 10 employees report on workplace accidents related to severe injuries that require hospitalization within 24 hours. In the first year of implementing this requirement, OSHA received 10,388 reports, which is nearly 30 reports per day.

Each report detailed an injury suffered by a U.S. worker which sometimes had permanent consequences for themselves and their families. The purpose of requiring these reports was to provide OSHA the opportunity to engage with employers in an effort to implement changes that would prevent similar incidents from happening to other employees. In March 2016, they published a report: Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation.

What is a “serious” workplace injury?

Here are some examples of workplace accidents that occurred and the fixes made to ensure that the same accident did not occur again:

  • A worker who was cleaning a conveyor belt received serious injuries to her arm that required a metal plate and skin grafts to repair after the belt, which was loaded with liquid chocolate, came on while she was cleaning it. After the accident, her employer installed metal guards to shield the workers’ hands and arms from the moving machinery. They also installed warning alarms and flashing lights that came on 20 seconds prior to the conveyor belt starting up.
  • A worker in Idaho lost the tip of his finger when a valve cover snapped shut while he was working on it. After that worker’s finger was amputated, his employer devised a hands-free tool that could be used to close the valve, and they also alerted the manufacturer about the changes they had made so that they could inform other who also use the same equipment.
  • A chipper operator’s arm was amputated when he tried to clear a jam in the conveyor. The employer installed electrical shut-offs in easy reach of all employees, placing catwalks around the mill and giving all employees handheld radios.

In these and other cases, employers worked with OSHA to remedy the situation that caused an injury, but in other cases, there were employers who went to great lengths to conceal injuries and hazards. The report details one example in which a manufacturer tried to hide a production line form OSHA inspectors after an incident where an employee’s finger had been amputated.

OSHA has developed these outreach strategies in an effort to ensure that severe workplace injuries get reported right away. In the second year of implementation, OSHA will cite employers who do not report injuries, and they have increased the fine for non-reporting form $2,000 to $7,000.

Employees who sustain workplace injuries during the course of their regular work activities may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim, which includes a partial wage-replacement payment, and medical expenses related to the occupational injury. An experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer can represent to an injured worker in case of any kind of dispute with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, or the state workers’ compensation board.

If you or someone close to you has suffered from any other kind of workplace injury or occupational disease, an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney can help you make sure to get the compensation you deserve. When you have sustained an injury on the job, the trusted Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates will be there to represent your interests. Contact us today for a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.