Under a new federal safety rule that will take effect Jan. 1, all employers will be required to notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whenever an employee is hospitalized for an on-the-job injury, suffers an amputation, or loses an eye at work.
OSHA regulators originally proposed the new rule change three years ago to enhance current requirements, which mandate that employers notify OSHA when a work-related accident kills an employee or injures and hospitalizes three employees.
“Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” Dr. David Michaels, assistant labor secretary for OSHA, said in a statement.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its latest census of fatal occupational injuries that 4,405 workers were killed in workplace-related accidents in 2013.
“Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said.
Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye within 24 hours.
Many industry groups are attacking the new rule as anti-business. Marc Freedman, director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the change will “generate much traffic to OSHA that I don’t think they’re going to have any real use for.”
Dr. Michaels disagrees with such assertions. “It’s hard to say that when someone is hospitalized, or someone loses a part of their body, it’s not an important accident,” he said in a teleconference with the press. He said that the agency didn’t view that as “too much information,” but as warning signs of workplace hazards that currently go unnoticed by regulators until it’s too late.