One-Third of OSHA Injury Reports Lead to an Inspection

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By Bruce Rolfsen

OSHA launched inspections 33 percent of the time when employers notified the agency of hospitalizations, amputations or eye losses in 2016, according to records.

The likelihood of an inspection was slightly less than in 2015, the first year of a requirement to notify OSHA, when 38 percent of the reports resulted in inspections.

The small decline could be the result of the agency’s area offices becoming more confident with responding to reports by asking employers to conduct their own inquiry and abate hazards, rather than dispatching Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors to workplaces, the agency’s director of enforcement, Thomas Galassi, said.

When employers submit the results of internal investigations to OSHA, the agency expects the employer’s response to be a substantial inquiry into the incident’s root cause, Galassi told the midwinter meeting of the American Bar Association’s Occupational Safety and Health Committee in Jupiter, Fla.

The employer is also expected to detail how the hazard will be abated, Galassi said March 8. Simply saying there will be additional training isn’t enough.

In 2016, the agency was contacted 10,887 times, a 5 percent increase from the year before. Amputations prompted 25 percent of the reports and hospitalizations 75 percent.

Fifty-one percent of the amputation reports prompted an inspection, while hospitalizations produced inspections in 27 percent of the cases.

The rule (RIN 1218-AC50) mandating notification of OSHA any time a worker was admitted to a hospital, suffered an amputation or lost eye took effect Jan. 1, 2015 (79 Fed. Reg. 56,141). Previously, employers had to contact OSHA only when three workers were hospitalized because of the same incident.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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