Why a Workplace Safety Program Needs Incident Reporting 

Most types of businesses that work in the construction industry, manufacturing industry, or another industry with a high risk of accident rely on workplace safety programs to keep everyone safe. As part of a robust workplace safety program, program managers should encourage consistent, detailed incident reporting and analysis. If you have questions about incident reporting as part of a workplace safety program, the team at OSHA Injury Attorney can help to answer questions and provide feedback. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the basics of incident reporting and why incident reporting is a crucial piece of a workplace safety program—

What Is Incident Reporting?

Incident reporting is the act of implementing a system wherein workers, managers, and others in a workspace can document any safety incidents that occur. Note that the word “incident” is used rather than accident; in the eyes of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), incidents are preventable, whereas the term “accidents” implies the occurrence of an uncontrollable, random event. 

What Types of Incidents Should Be Reported?

All workplace safety incidents should be reported, documented, and investigated with follow-up. Types of workplace incidents that should be reported include any situations where an employee or someone on a worksite is in a motor vehicle accident, becomes ill due to workplace conditions, is involved in an incident that results in property or equipment damage, is injured on the worksite, dies as a result of a workplace accident, or is involved in a “near-miss” incident that could have resulted in injury, death, or property damage. 

What Are the Benefits of Incident Reporting?

Incident reporting provides numerous benefits, and should be a focus of all workplace safety plans. Some of the top reasons to include incident reporting as part of your workplace safety program include: 

  • Opportunity to create better processes in the future.Incident reporting can bring attention to processes that may not be serving the interests of those in the workplace best, or that may be riddled with risk or inefficiencies. By analyzing incidents, there is an opportunity to adjust, create, and improve processes.
  • Awareness of issues. If incidents are not reported, management may simply remain unaware of any process issues or other concerns that are putting workers and risk or impairing production. Transparency around incidents is a key part of safety and process improvement.
  • Mitigation of more serious incidents. One of the most critical reasons to implement a workplace incident reporting program is that reporting incidents and identifying the factors that led to those incidents can help to mitigate more serious incidents from occurring in the future, including incidents that could result in severe injury or death.
  • Ability to track patterns and trends. By keeping detailed incident reports and analyzing trends in incidents over time, managers will have a better understanding of patterns and factors that contribute to incidents and where intervention or adjustment in processes may be necessary to keep everyone safe and improve protection.
  • Protection from liability. Keeping documents that thoroughly detail incidents is a key part of responsible recordkeeping; this type of recordkeeping is essential in the event that a lawsuit is brought forth. Without incident reporting, a company under scrutiny may have little to provide in its defense. In addition to reducing liability in a single incident, evidence that incident reporting has informed safety program decisions can also help to prove that a company has fulfilled its duty to mitigate risk.
  • Employee participation in workplace safety programs. By encouraging reporting of incidents, an employer also encourages employee participation in workplace safety programs, which can help to keep everyone safe.
  • Enhanced workplace safety culture. A strong workplace safety culture is something that all businesses should strive for. A strong workplace safety culture means that a workplace safety program is robust, effective, and understood and followed by all team members. Companies with strong workplace safety cultures may experience fewer incidents that jeopardize production, company reputation and liability, and worker health and safety.

Note that a strong incident reporting program not only includes a way for employees to report incidents, but also a plan for how incidents will be investigated and responded to. 

Learn More About Incident Reporting and Workplace Safety Plans Today

Employers have a big responsibility: to keep everyone in the workplace safe. In addition to maintaining a safety plan that outlines expectations, regulations, and other key safety points, safety plans should include an incident reporting strategy. At OSHA Injury Attorney, we can help answer your questions about workplace safety plans and incident reporting. To learn more about incident reporting in the workplace, please reach out to us directly online.

OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extensive recordkeeping and reporting rules in place designed to help employers recognize workplace hazards and correct dangerous conditions by keeping detailed track of work-related injuries and illnesses and their causes.

Since 1971, OSHA has required that most businesses keep these records. The reporting requirements are spelled out in Part 1904 of OSHA’s regulations. They are written in plain language and are meant to be easy to follow. Even so, the rules can be confusing because they are updated frequently and sometimes involve making judgment calls.

What OSHA Recordkeeping Paperwork is Required?

OSHA requires that most employers record injuries and illnesses on three specific forms:

  • OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries, and Illnesses
  • OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
  • OSHA Form 301, Injury, and Illness Incident Report

An employer is required to enter each case on the OSHA 300 Log and OSHA 301 Form within seven calendar days of receiving notice that a recordable illness or injury occurred. The company is required to post the Annual Summary (Form 300A) no later than February 1 of the year following the period of record.

Who Must Keep OSHA Injury Records?

According to OSHA, all employers are covered by Part 1904 rules. Then, again, some employers don’t have to keep certain records, such as filling out OSHA Forms 300 and 300A. Specifically, any employer with less than eleven workers (at all locations) is partially exempt from some recordkeeping requirements. If an employer has ten employees and then hires one temporary employee for just a day, they have gone over the threshold and must comply with OSHA’s reporting requirements for the remainder of the year.

Some businesses in low-hazard industries are also exempt from keeping OSHA injury and illness records unless specifically asked to do so by the agency. A few of these exempt industries include clothing stores, florists, schools, travel agencies, and financial services companies.

OSHA requires all employers, regardless of size or industry, to report work-related amputations, losses of an eye, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Fatalities must be reported within eight hours of learning about the incident or finding out that it was work-related. In other cases, the time limit is 24 hours.

But there are some exceptions here as well. An employer doesn’t have to report a fatality or serious injury if:

  • The worker passed away more than 30 days after the work-related injury or the amputation, hospitalization, or loss of an eye happened more than 24 hours after the incident;
  • The accident resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a highway or public street; or
  • The event occurred on a public or commercial transportation system.

What is Considered a Recordable Injury or Illness by OSHA?

Not all illnesses and injuries in the workplace are recordable. To be recordable according to OSHA, an illness or injury must meet the following conditions:

  • It is new.
  • It is work-related.
  • It results in one or more recording criteria.

It’s generally simple enough to figure out if a case is new. If the employee had never experienced the illness or injury before or had recovered completely from a prior injury, a new event would likely qualify.

Figuring out if an illness or injury is work-related can be more challenging. Under OSHA’s rules, work-relatedness is presumed for exposures or events in the workplace unless it meets the criteria for specific exceptions. Some examples of exceptions include: the employee was involved in personal tasks, the injury resulted from a non-work-related event, or the illness is the common cold or flu. OSHA has also determined that COVID-19 is NOT the common cold or flu, so it could be considered a recordable illness if the workplace was a “discernable cause.”

Finally, a work-related illness or injury is recordable if it meets one more recording criteria. These are:

  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Days away from work
  • Restricted work or transfer to another position
  • Death

Your Rights As an Injured Worker

Whether or not your employer must report to OSHA, you have rights if you have become sick or injured through the course of your employment. Not only should you report any on-the-job injuries to your employer promptly, but you should also seek immediate medical care.

OSHA regulations can be complex, and workers’ rights related to compensation and freedom from retaliation are equally complicated. If you’ve been injured at work, an experienced workplace injury attorney can help explain and protect your right to recovery.

At OSHA Injury Attorney, we take pride in fiercely protecting the interests of workers just like yourself. If you’ve been injured and have questions about your rights, we can help.