In January 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) started requiring employers to report all severe work-related injuries within a 24-hour period. Many companies complied, as OSHA received a total of 10,388 reports, averaging approximately 30 per day.
Unfortunately, as anticipated, thousands of workers sustained permanent injuries that will stay with them for the rest of their lives — including 2,644 amputations. OSHA is using the information collected to gain a better understanding of why these often easily preventable incidents happened and to work with employers to find easy, cost-effective ways to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. This includes taking a variety of measures, such as clearly marking pathways and supplying fall protection equipment.
OSHA Hospitalization Reports by Industry
The breakdown of severe injury hospitalization reports received by OSHA in 2015 includes:
- Manufacturing (26%)
- Construction (19%)
- Other (16%)
- Transportation and Warehousing (11%)
- Retail Trade (8%)
- Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services (6%)
- Healthcare and Social Assistance (6%)
- Wholesale Trade (5%)
- Oil and Gas Extraction (3%)
OSHA Instituting Stricter Policies
Overall, OSHA reported feeling confident that the first year of the program was successful with helping to better identify and eliminate serious hazards and determine areas that pose the highest risk to workers — its two main goals. However, the agency suspects at least 50% of severe injuries were not reported.
Most injury reports were filed by larger employers, so OSHA suspects many smaller and mid-sized companies may simply have been unaware of the new requirements. To raise awareness, the agency has partnered with insurers, first responders, and business organizations to better engage employers.
Of course, some companies purposely failed to report these injuries. For example, one manufacturer attempted to hide an entire production line from OSHA inspectors after a staffing firm reported that a worker sustained an injury so serious, their finger had to be amputated. For cases like these, OSHA plans to start issuing even more citations, and has already increased the maximum penalty for failing to report a severe injury from $2,000 to $7,000.
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