Over 10,000 severe worker injuries reported in first year of new OSHA requirement

In the first year of a new reporting requirement, employers notified the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of more than 10,000 severe work-related injuries. Another 5,000 or more severe injuries likely went unreported.

MournStarting Jan. 1, 2015, employers were required to report any severe work-related injury—defined as a hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye—within 24 hours.

In the first full year of the program, employers reported 10,388 severe injuries, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations. The reports were from federal OSHA states only and did not include injuries from states that administer their own safety programs, such as Oregon.

OSHA said the number of severe injury cases likely is higher than 10,388—possibly 50 percent higher—because many small employers didn’t report accidents. The federal agency came to that conclusion after looking at injury claim numbers provided by state workers’ compensation programs.

OSHA said in many instances  small and mid-sized employers simply were unaware of the new requirements. In other cases, employers chose not to report because they perceived the cost of not reporting to be low. The penalty for not reporting a severe injury was $1,000. [OSHA recently increased the fine for not reporting a severe injury to as much as $7,000.]

Federal OSHA found that most of the reported hazards that led to severe injuries were easily prevented. In most cases, employers could have abated them in straightforward, cost‑effective ways, such as by providing fall protection equipment, installing guarding over dangerous machinery, or clearly marking pathways.

To learn more about how to report injuries, go here.

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