When Do You Have to Notify OSHA about an Employee Accident/Illness?

The Department of Labor’s Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) has specific rules for reporting employee injuries, illnesses and fatalities. All employers must be aware of and comply with these rules. 

Serious Injuries and Fatalities

When an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye, all employers, regardless of size or industry, are required to notify OSHA. The employer must report a fatality within eight hours and severe injuries within 24 hours of learning about them.  

Which Serious Injuries Are Reportable?

The 24-hour reporting requirement applies to work-related incidents that lead to in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye within 24 hours of the incident. In-patient hospitalization is defined as a formal admission to the inpatient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment. If the employee is only treated in the emergency room, or if the hospitalization involves only diagnostic testing and/or observation, the incident does not need to be reported. Amputation refers to the traumatic loss of all or part of a limb or other external body part, including fingertips. It also includes medical amputations that result from irreparable damage and amputations of body parts that are later reattached.

Sometimes, an employee who is injured at work will die of his injuries weeks or months later. Employers are required to report any fatalities that occur within 30 days of the work-related incident.

What Incidents Do Not Need to Be Reported to OSHA?

Employees do not have to report fatalities and injuries that resulted from motor vehicle accidents on public streets or highways, except for those occurring in construction work zones. Incidents that occur on commercial or public transportation systems, such as airplanes and trains, are also exempt. 

How Should I Report a Fatality or Serious Injury? 

Incidents can be reported either by phone or online. Calls can be placed to the nearest OSHA office or to the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 800-321-6742 (OSHA). Reports cannot be left by voice mail; they must be given directly to a live person. Be ready to provide your company name, the names of employees impacted, location and time of the incident, a brief description of what happened, and a contact person and phone number for follow-up.

What about Less Serious Injuries? 

Less serious work-related injuries and illnesses do not have to be reported to OSHA right away, but many employers need to keep detailed records of them. Employers with 10 or more full-time employees in a wide range of industries must keep a yearly log of all work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses, except for minor injuries that only required first aid treatment and that did not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, or transfer to another job. 

Covered employers must fill out forms 300, 301, and 300A, all of which are available on the OSHA website, and retain these records for five years. Further, employers with 250 or more employees that are subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation, as well as employers with 20 to 249 employees in certain high-risk industries, must submit Form 300A, which summarizes all reportable injuries/illnesses, for each year by March 2 of the following year, even if no reportable incidents occurred during the year.

Covered employers must retain these records at the worksite for at least five years and, from February through April, they must post a summary of injuries and illnesses from the prior year. Employers must be ready to produce these records promptly if requested by an OSHA investigator or an employee or former employee or their representative.

Assistance with OSHA Compliance

Sheehy, Ware, Pappas & Grubbs can assist you with the complex OSHA compliance process and help you assert your rights throughout the OSHA inspection process. Few firms in the United States match our expertise in OSHA matters. Our OSHA attorneys have represented hundreds of clients in OSHA investigations, and we are able to perform 24/7 rapid response on-site coordination with our clients, often arriving before the OSHA inspector. For assistance with your OSHA matter, contact the OSHA attorneys at Sheehy, Ware, Pappas & Grubbs.