By James L. Curtis, Benjamin D. Briggs, and Craig B. Simonsen

Safety at workBeginning January 1, 2015, OSHA changed its injury reporting rules to require employees to report to OSHA certain severe injuries and employee hospitalization within 24 hours.  We have previously blogged about that change in “OSHA Recordkeeping: Civil and Criminal Liabilities in 2015” and “OSHA Interpretation On New Reporting Rule For Amputations And Sight Loss.”

OSHA’s new reporting rules just completed their first year and OSHA has issued a report analyzing the data from this first year titled “Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation” (Report) (March 17, 2016).

According to the Report, in the first full year of the program (2015), “employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations. In a majority of those cases, OSHA responded by working with the employer to identify and eliminate hazards, rather than conducting a worksite inspection.”

In OSHA’s news release, Dr. David Michaels said that “in case after case, the prompt reporting of worker injuries has created opportunities for us to work with employers we wouldn’t have had contact with otherwise.” OSHA noted too that some employers “responded with callous disregard. One manufacturer tried to hide an entire room full of machinery from OSHA inspectors.”

The Report breaks out the top twenty-five industries reporting injuries and hospitalizations. Not surprisingly, manufacturing lead all other industries with 26% of all hospitalization reports and 57% of all amputation reports. According to the Report, about 1/3 of the injury and hospitalization reports resulted in on-site inspections and 2/3 of the reports resulted in a “Rapid Response Investigation” whereby OSHA requests that the employer conduct an internal investigation and notify OSHA of its findings.  OSHA found that the new Rapid Response requirements were “extremely effective” in abating hazards while utilizing far fewer resources than required for on-site inspections.

Employers should expect extra attention from OSHA as it is using these statistics and information to guide its enforcement activities.