Every year, tens of thousands of men and women across the United States are severely injured on the job, sometimes with permanent consequences to themselves and their families. On January 1, 2015, OSHA implemented a new program requiring employers to report any work-related amputation, in-patient hospitalization, or loss of eye within 24 hours. Injuries may be reported directly to an OSHA field office, to the OSHA toll-free number, or via an online form. The goal of OSHA’s severe injury reporting program was to enable OSHA to better target compliance assistance and enforcement efforts to places where workers are at greatest risk and to engage more high-hazard employers in identifying and eliminating serious hazards.
2015 Severe Injury Reporting
Employers reported 10,388 incidents, including 7,636 hospitalizations and 2,644 amputations in the first year of OSHA’s severe injury reporting program. According to OSHA’s severe injury by industry report, 3,532 injuries were reported in the manufacturing industry, including 2,004 hospitalizations and 1,496 amputations.
According to the report, most of the hazards that led to severe injuries were well-understood and easily prevented. In most cases, employers can abate injuries in straightforward, cost-effective ways like providing protection equipment, installing machine guarding, and clearly marking walkways.
A Safe Workplace
Most employers who experienced a severe injury to a worker were eager to cooperate with OSHA inspectors to prevent similar incidents. OSHA reported that several employers went above and beyond what was required by OSHA to protect their employees:
In a small Illinois town, a worker at a food processing plant was hospitalized with severe injuries after his arm was mangled in a screw conveyor. Following an inspection that resulted in citations, the employer installed guards and hand rails around the machinery, added a nitrogen monitoring system for another part of the plant, and conducted extensive employee training. Then he urged other employers in the area to check for hazards, and invited OSHA to make a safety presentation to the local Chamber of Commerce.
A Safety Journey
OSHA believes that many severe injuries (as many as 50% or more) are not reported. Because many of the reports in 2015 were filed by larger employers, OSHA believes many small and mid-sized employers are unaware of the requirements. OSHA is developing outreach programs to reach these companies and is more likely to cite employers for non-compliance to deter them from choosing not to report incidents.
OSHA believes the results of the first year of the program demonstrate its success in helping OSHA focus resources where they are need and engaging employers to identify and eliminate hazards in the workplace.
Read the full report by OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels, PhD, MPH, to view more in-depth statistics and examples of the effectiveness of the severe injury reporting program. Talk to your CBT specialist to learn how CBT can help you mitigate your safety risks with a safety assessment.