OSHA rule expands list of reportable injuries, aims to protect workers

OSHA is requiring employers to report amputations and loss of eyeball injuries in an effort to increase the safety of the nation's workplaces.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, recently stated that a new, controversial rule will become official on January 1, 2015. The rule requires employers to report on-the-job accidents that lead to amputations or the loss of an eye.

These injury reports are mandatory for a wide range of employers. The reports are in addition to the already required reports of accidents that result in the death of an employee as well as accidents that led to the hospitalization of three or more workers.

More on OSHA's new rule

According to OSHA, the rule applies to all employers who fall under OSHA jurisdiction. This includes employers who generally fit an exemption and are not required to keep records of OSHA injuries because of the size of the company or the type of business conducted. Although the rule covers a large range of employers, there are some instances when a report is not required. This includes accidents that result from a motor vehicle crash on a public street or highway and those that occur while using commercial or public transportation.

During the comment period, OSHA received criticism over the lack of a clear definition of amputation. As a result, the agency provided a clarification, stating that an amputation is any "traumatic loss of limb or other external body part." The definition expands to clarify that qualifying injuries include everything from a severed limb to a fingertip "with or without bone loss."

More on the controversy

Businesses that file accident reports will likely receive some form of contact from OSHA, possibly in the form of an inspection. In addition to potentially bogging down business, the increased reporting requirement will likely lead to a significant increase in the amount of paperwork sent to OSHA departments. JD Supra, a news source that focuses on providing business advice, reports that OSHA currently receives approximately 750 to 1,100 reports of fatalities from workplace accidents. With the new rule in place, these reports could jump from a mere thousand to over 150,000.

Those in favor of the rule argue that reporting amputation accidents is a significant step towards helping increase the safety of workplaces throughout the nation. Not only will accidents possibly lead to inspections, but employers may find the rule encourages them to take proactive steps towards increasing the safety of their places of business before accidents happen.

What this means for workers

Hopefully, the law will reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. Unfortunately, even when precautions are taken accidents can happen. Those who are injured in an accident while working likely qualify for compensation through the workers' compensation program. As a result, those who are injured are wise to seek the counsel of an on-the-job injury attorney.

Keywords: workers' compensation amputation