OSHA's New Enforcement ProceduresAugust 1, 2015
On December 24, 2014, OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs issued a 20-plus-page memorandum outlining its interim enforcement procedures for new reporting requirements under 29 CFR 1904.39. You may be asking yourself what this means. You also may be wondering whether this was an early holiday present for employers or a lump of coal left in companies’ stockings. While it seems certain that employers will have their hands full dealing with a host of new requests from OSHA for information as well as an almost-certain increase in inspections, the memorandum provides valuable insight into the questions employers likely will be asked and the criteria the agency will consider when deciding whether to visit a facility after an accident.
What are the new reporting requirements set forth in 29 CFR 1904.39? In case you missed it, OSHA now (effective January 1, 2015) requires employers to report the hospitalization of one or more employees (it used to be three), amputations, and/or the loss of an eye in addition to fatalities, which you have always had to report. Anticipating a significant surge in the number of reported incidents, OSHA is rolling out new procedures to provide field guidance on when to launch investigations.
Notably, this memorandum is not posted to OSHA’s website, a departure from past practice which saw the agency publicize and post similar initiatives.
When making your initial report to OSHA in response to a triggering event, you will be expected to provide the following information: the establishment name; the location of the incident; the time of the incident; the type of incident (fatality, hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye); the number of employees who were so injured or hospitalized; their names; a contact person for the employer; and a description of the incident. Employers can report matters in person, over the phone or online. Keep in mind that you are writing and submitting your own words if you opt for the online reporting mechanism—many employers prefer to make an oral report.