Changes Coming in Railroads' Injury Reporting Duty
The final Federal Railroad Administration rule takes effect June 1, 2011. It eliminates the current requirement that railroads decide within seven days whether a potentially reportable injury was work related.
Several major stakeholders opposed the change, but the Federal Railroad Administration is finalizing a change in its rule, 49 CFR Part 225, that requires railroads' employee injuries and illnesses to be reported. In its final rule, the agency said its new approach will help to ensure that railroads record and thoroughly investigate injuries and illnesses where the employee claims an event or exposure in the work environment was a cause, and the approach both creates an audit trail for such injuries and gives railroads more time to finish the work-related analysis because they no longer will have to decide within seven days whether a potentially reportable injury is work related.
The final rule takes effect June 1, 2011. A number of major stakeholders commented and sought various changes in the earlier proposal.
The rule says in part, "In many cases, injuries and illnesses, and/or the signs and symptoms thereof, manifest in the work environment without the cause(s) being readily apparent. Therefore, a railroad, during its initial seven day investigation, may have determined that an injury or illness was not work-related when additional investigation and time would have shown that the injury or illness was in fact work-related. Consequently, FRA is concerned that some railroads are prematurely attributing the cause of an injury or illness solely to a non-work-related event or exposure occurring outside the work environment. FRA was similarly concerned that some railroads were not investigating pertinent information about employee injuries and illnesses to make an accurate work-relatedness determination. As a result, FRA believes that some railroads may have under-reported employee injuries and illnesses, and, because a Form FRA F 6180.98 was not completed to initially record the injury or illness, no audit trail was created."
The definition in the rule that triggers a railroad's responsibility to create a Form FRA F 6180.98 for is any abnormal condition or disorder of a railroad employee that causes or requires the railroad employee to be examined or treated by a qualified health care professional regardless of whether or not it meets the general reporting criteria in Sec. 225.19(d), and the employee claims that, or the railroad otherwise has knowledge that, the injury or illness is work-related.
Stakeholders warned the original proposal was overly burdensome, unnecessary, and might increase the misclassification of data by capturing too much information. FRA answered that "railroads should already be reviewing all employee claimed or suspected work-related injuries and illnesses. FRA is simply requiring that the railroad document these suspected work-related injuries."