No employer wishes to get on the bad side of the Department of Labor, and, more specifically, OSHA. That is why it is important for any safety/EHS professional to be fully aware of what incidents (or accidents) must be immediately reported, how they must be reported and all allied issues and requirements. Whilst this information should be well-known to safety/EHS professionals, as well as being readily available on the OSHA website, it is nevertheless worth succinctly covering in this short article.
In what instances is it mandatory for an employer to contact the nearest OSHA field (area) office? There are four specific instances or scenarios that make reporting automatically necessary, namely (1) an employee killed on the job, (2) hospitalization due to a work-related incident, (3) loss of an eye or (4) amputation. What constitutes ‘hospitalization’ can be tricky in certain situations, therefore the OSHA definition should be the decisive as the agency views hospitalization as “a formal admission to the in-patient service of a hospital or clinic for care or treatment.” Therefore, treatment that occurs only in an emergency room (ER) is not reportable to OSHA.
The word ‘amputation’ can also be tricky, hence the importance of the definition provided by OSHA, i.e. that an amputation is “the traumatic loss of all or part of a limb or other external body part. This would include fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached.” If there are doubts, an employer should (and can) rely on the diagnosis of a medical practitioner for this purpose.