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Effective January 1, 2015, employers are required to report to OSHA within twenty-four (24) hours an amputation, the loss of an eye or any incident that results in at least one worker being admitted to a hospital for in-patient care, in addition to existing procedures requiring the reporting of fatalities within eight (8) hours. Little noticed in these changes is the fact that area OSHA offices are now sending out to employers questionnaires requesting details about the accidents causing the injuries. In addition to basic questions about the accident, some questions request that the employer "identify the root causes" of the incident, explain why safety procedures weren’t followed, and give reasons for the failure of safety devices. The questionnaire closes with the employer being asked to explain what the company’s recommended corrective actions were, and what actions were taken.

Based upon the initial reports returned by employers, OSHA will put the situations into one of three categories, with varying levels of follow up by OSHA. Category 1 reports will automatically trigger an inspection, while Category 2 reports will not always result in an inspection. An inspection does not result in reports that are considered Category 3.

Editor’s Note: Although employers are not necessarily legally required to respond with detailed information or to use the form OSHA sends, advice of counsel is desirable because of the significant ramifications. That is, the failure to cooperate in a reasonable way will likely result in an early inspection, but there are ways of providing the general information without using the particular OSHA form.

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