Despite recent changes in reporting regulations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has concluded that more than 50 percent of on the job injuries are still going unreported. More than a year after the new reporting requirements became effective, OSHA believes that many small and mid-sized employers are either unaware of the new guidelines, or are unwilling to report
because they do not fully understand the repercussions for failing to comply. Unfortunately, when employers fail to report work-related injuries and illnesses, OSHA's ability to reduce the number of workplace hazards is limited, placing the safety of hundreds of thousands of workers at stake.
Under the new requirement, which took effect on January 1, 2015, employers are required to report any work-related injury that resulted in amputation, in-patient hospitalization or the loss of an eye within 24 hours of the incident occurring. The requirement to report all work-related fatalities within 8 hours of occurrence was unchanged. Employers can report injuries and fatalities by:
- Contacting the nearest OSHA field office
- Calling OSHA's toll-free telephone number 1-800-321-OSHA
- Using OSHA's online injury and fatality reporting form
Even employers who are exempt from maintaining routine OSHA reports because of their size or industry are required to comply with reporting regulations.
Each day in the United States, approximately 30 severe work-related injuries are reported to OSHA. This is a clear indication that American workers continue to be exposed to hazardous work environments despite decades of progress. One objective of the new reporting program is to encourage employers to evaluate the circumstances surrounding each work-related injury or death and discover ways to reduce or eliminate potential hazards to protect their workers from suffering similar injuries. While the majority of employers who have experienced a severe injury or worker fatality have gone above and beyond to protect their employees from future harm, however, the new reporting requirements have also revealed that some employers are going to great lengths to conceal workplace hazards, even after horrific injuries have occurred.
Failing to Report Work Injuries
To enforce reporting regulations, OSHA has become more likely to cite non-compliant employers. Additionally, the fines for not reporting have increased significantly. Prior to the new reporting requirement, employers could face a penalty of up to $1,000. They may now face up to $7,000 in fines, and if it is determined that they were aware of the requirements but willingly failed to comply, the penalties can be much higher.