Orange County Branch Newsletter

May 2015

Law and CE News

My Employee was Injured at a Project Site – What do I Need to Report?


Work-related accidents are common and design professionals who frequent construction sites can be exposed to dangerous conditions and hazards that are unavoidable. For example, you may have heard of the four construction workers in Mendocino County who were recently injured when a 150-foot temporary steel and wooden structure suddenly collapsed. If these were your injured employees, would you know what, as an employer, must be reported to OSHA and Cal/OSHA?
 
What are OSHA and Cal/OSHA?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency responsible for the enforcement of safety and health legislation. OSHA oversees federal government employers and certain states that have not adopted their own OSHA-Approved State Plan.
 
California, on the other hand, has adopted an OSHA-Approved State Plan (Cal/OSHA). Every OSHA-Approved State Plan, including Cal/OSHA, must comply with federal OSHA regulations and, in some instances, may have more stringent regulations than federal OSHA.
 
Who Is Required to Report to OSHA or Cal/OSHA?
Cal/OSHA covers most engineer employers and employees in California. However, there are several engineer employers and employees that fall within the federal OSHA jurisdiction and must abide by the OSHA reporting requirements. This includes those employed by the United States Postal Service, private sector employers on Native American lands, maritime activities on the navigable waterways of the United States, private contractors working on federal jurisdiction land, and those employers that require federal security clearance.
 

What Types of Injuries Should Be Reported and When?

Cal/OSHA
Under Cal/OSHA, every employer must immediately report any work-related serious injuries, illnesses, or deaths including the following:
  • Those that require in-patient hospitalization in excess of 24 hours other than for medical observation,
  • A loss of any member of the body, or
  • Any serious degree of permanent disfigurement.

Injuries that result from a crime or from accidents that occur on a public roadway are specifically excluded from the reporting requirement.

For those employers under the Cal/OSHA jurisdiction, reporting “immediately” means as soon as practically possible, but ­no later than eight hours after the employer knows, or with diligent inquiry would have known of the death or serious injury or illness. Only under exigent circumstances is the reporting requirement expanded to twenty-four hours after the injury.
 
OSHA
Unlike Cal/OSHA, federal OSHA requires that employers report the following injuries: 1) all work-related deaths that occur within thirty days of the work-related incident, and 2) all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye that occur within 24 hours of a work-related incident. The above deaths and injuries must be reported within eight hours of the employer finding out about them. As you can see, federal OSHA requires reporting all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, even those that last for less than 24 hours. OSHA also includes amputations and losses of an eye. These types of injuries are also included under Cal/OSHA’s reporting requirements, but Cal/OSHA’s definition of serious injury or illness covers more than OSHA.
 

Federal OSHA also has different timing requirements for reporting injuries. The employer must report work-related deaths within eight hours of learning about the death. Employers must report in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or eye loss within 24 hours of learning about the injury.

Although employers do not have to report injuries that result from car accidents that occur on public roadways, they do have to report injuries that occur in a construction work zone. This means that if an employee is injured on a job site that is on a public roadway, it must be reported.

What Information Is Required When Reporting an Injury?

Cal/OSHA
When reporting a work-related injury or death to Cal/OSHA, you must provide the following: 1) name and address of injured person, 2) name of employer, 3) location of employer, 4) location of incident, 5) time of incident, 6) date of incident , 7) name and job title of person reporting the incident, 8) location of treating facility (if applicable), 9) names of agencies that responded to the incident (if applicable), and 10) a description of the event. To report an injury, you must contact the nearest Cal/OSHA district office, which you can find here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/asp/DoshZipSearch.html.
 
OSHA
Under federal OSHA, an employer needs to report the following information: 1) name of business, 2) location of incident, 3) time of incident, 4) type of injury (i.e. fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye), 5) number of injured employees, 6) names of injured employees, 7) contact person, including phone number, and 8) a description of the event. To report an injury or death, you can call the nearest OSHA area office: https://www.osha.gov/oshdir/ca.html, or call OSHA’s 24-hour hotline: 800-321-OSHA.
 
What Are the Consequences of Failing to Report an Injury?
Employers may incur monetary penalties under Cal/OSHA and OSHA for failing to report work-related injuries and death. Under Cal/OSHA, an employer may be penalized a minimum of $5,500 and under OSHA, an employer may be penalized from $1,000 to $7,000. Not only are monetary penalties a risk, but so is litigation. Employers may not implement policies that discourage employees from, or disciplining employees for, reporting work-related injuries. Such policies may condone discrimination in the work-place and may give rise to discrimination and retaliation suits.
 
It is imperative that every employer implement policies and procedures for reporting work-related deaths and injuries as described in this newsletter. For example, it might be best practice to ensure that every supervisor and manager is aware of the reporting requirements and knows what to do when an employee is injured at work. When the injury is reported to OSHA or Cal/OSHA, the reporting person should document the phone call to keep in the employer’s records. These procedures should be clear and available to all supervisors and managers so the expectations are clear.
 

Please contact us to discuss further.

Nicole Davis Tinkham, Esq. | ndavis@ccmslaw.com

Sydney J. Blaauw, Esq. | sblaauw@ccmslaw.com

Collins Collins Muir + Stewart LLP

Nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice. Anyone who reads this article should consult with an attorney before acting on anything contained in this or any other article on legal matters, as facts and circumstances will vary from case to case.

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