The timely reporting mandate would apply to any in-patient hospitalization and any work-related amputation.

Proposed Reporting Change Includes Amputations

Since 1994, OSHA has required employers to report to it, within eight hours, any work-related death or in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. This proposed rule would make any such hospitalization and any work-related amputation reportable.

A June 22 proposed rule published by OSHA has a dual purpose: It would base the recordkeeping regulation on NAICS codes rather than the discarded SIC codes, and it also would change the fatality and hospitalization reporting mandate OSHA has used since 1994. OSHA currently requires employers to report to it, within eight hours, any work-related death or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. The proposed rule would make any such hospitalization reportable within eight hours and any work-related amputation reportable within 24 hours.

The recordkeeping change will be significant for about 318,000 work sites with 9.3 million employees, according to OSHA's estimate. It estimates 199,000 establishments with 5.3 million employees that have not been required to record injuries would need to do so, and they record an estimated 173,000 injuries and illnesses per year. Another 119,000 establishments with 4.0 million employees and an estimated 76,000 injuries and illnesses per year are on the rule's partially exempt list of industries and would no longer need to keep records regularly.

The rule also says the timely reporting mandate will apply for an estimated 210,000 hospitalizations per year. A few thousand of those will be amputations -- BLS data indicate there were 6,230 amputations that involved days away from work in 2008.

"Prompt investigation of incidents causing serious injury is a key element in OSHA's ability to enforce existing standards, evaluate the effectiveness of current standards, and identify a need for new standards," according to the rule's text. "OSHA believes that the eight-hour requirement for work-related fatalities, the eight-hour requirement for work-related in-patient hospitalizations, and the 24-hour requirement for amputations will enable the additional potential benefits of reporting to be realized without creating unreasonable burdens on employers.

"Making all in-patient hospitalizations and amputations reportable will provide OSHA with additional information on the causes of workplace incidents and lead to greater prevention of injuries. The additional information would be obtained cost-effectively, involve relatively minimal burdens on employers, and would provide OSHA with critical information to facilitate the timely investigation of harmful incidents and quick mitigation of hazards. The information will also help OSHA target scarce resources to the most dangerous workplaces and to prevent future injuries at these workplaces.

"OSHA believes that the value of this additional information easily justifies the relatively minor additional reporting burden estimated to be an average of 15 minutes per reported incident." Newly required to keep injury and illness records would be industries including automobile dealers; bakeries; tire and automotive parts stores; beer, wine, and liquor stores; performing arts companies; and museums. Those that would not be required to record would include health stores; sport goods, hobby, and musical stores; electronics and appliance stores; newspaper and book; investigations and security services; radio and TV broadcasters; wireless carriers; and architectural and engineering firms.

Comments are due by Sept. 20; visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number OSHA-2010-0019 or regulatory information number (RIN) 1218-AC50.

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