As we have mentioned several times in the past few months, OSHA has updated and added requirements for reporting accidents. If you have an injury where an employee has an amputation, hospitalization (for in-patient treatment) or the loss of an eye, you are required to notify OSHA within 24 hrs. If you have a fatality, the time frame is only 8 hrs. More information on what needs reported can be found on the OSHA SITE.
Recently a memo was published that spells out how Federal OSHA will handle some 20,000 or more additional notifications they hadn’t had to deal with in the past. They have set up a triage for these calls. I will attempt to give you an idea of how these are going to be handled…at least for now as these are interim procedures and can / will be changed in the future. These procedures may also be somewhat different for state-plan states (VA, NC, and SC in our region)
When a company calls (or faxes or reports online) to report an injury, there will be some preliminary data gathered. This is done to figure out whether it is in need of an immediate inspection or if more data is needed. This will determine if it is belongs in Category 1. If not, the office will call back to determine if it will be category 2 or 3. OSHA’s response will be predicated on which of these three categories the reported injury belongs in.
Category 1. These are the most serious and will typically elicit an immediate response by OSHA. If you report something that is a fatality, multiple people being hospitalized from the same incident, you’re a member of a severe violator program, youth (under 18) is injured and a few other cases will be Category 1.
Whether a reported incident is Category 2 or Category 3 will be determined based on a number of criteria. Things such as are employees still exposed to the hazard, was there a failure of a required program like lockout tagout, are there temporary workers or other vulnerable populations injured will all have bearing on whether a report is considered Category 2 or 3.
If the incident is considered Category 2, the Area Director is expected to investigate as resources allow, preferably within 5 days of the incident report. It is highly likely you will see an inspector if it’s deemed Cat 2.
For Category 3, the employer is going to get a phone call from the Area Director or his representative and read you a script telling you about the Rapid Response Investigation they would like you to perform. You will receive a fax or email with the same information given by the AD and a voluntary self investigation form complete with witness reports.
If you report an incident and you receive an RRI, be very careful as anything you report could be considered a violation. In other words, the RRI will be considered a legal document and you may want to have a lawyer review it (at least that’s our advice for now). You will DEFINITELY want to have an outside party such as your Association staff review. it.
As the new regulations settle in, we expect these interim measures will evolve into something a bit more permanent. Things such as what makes a category 2 or 3 response will likely change and the RRI form will probably look different with time. We will keep up with these changes and try to have as up-to-date advice as possible. Watch the blog www.ginpress.org for more details.