Executive Briefings

OSHA Requires Notice of Workplace Injury within 24 Hours in Effort to 'Embarrass' Companies Into Being Careful

Starting in January, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require employers to notify the government within 24 hours every time someone loses an eye, suffers an amputation, or gets admitted to the hospital with an injury sustained at work.

The agency estimates that tens of thousands of injuries go unreported. “Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in early September. “These new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

The rule replaces regulations that require companies to report only incidents that result in three or more hospitalizations—“catastrophes,” in agency parlance. (Workplace deaths will still have to be reported within 8 hours.) OSHA head David Michaels, an assistant secretary in the Department of Labor, announced on Sept. 11 that the injury data will be made public on OSHA’s website.

The site already includes information on worker fatalities and catastrophes. The hope, Michaels says, is that additional information will embarrass companies into being more careful. “We believe that the possibility of public reporting of serious injuries will encourage—or, in the behavioral economics term, nudge—employers to take steps to prevent injuries so they’re not seen as unsafe places to work,” says Michaels. “After all, if you had a choice of applying for a job at a place where a worker had just lost a hand, vs. one where no amputation has occurred, which would you choose?”

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The agency estimates that tens of thousands of injuries go unreported. “Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in early September. “These new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

The rule replaces regulations that require companies to report only incidents that result in three or more hospitalizations—“catastrophes,” in agency parlance. (Workplace deaths will still have to be reported within 8 hours.) OSHA head David Michaels, an assistant secretary in the Department of Labor, announced on Sept. 11 that the injury data will be made public on OSHA’s website.

The site already includes information on worker fatalities and catastrophes. The hope, Michaels says, is that additional information will embarrass companies into being more careful. “We believe that the possibility of public reporting of serious injuries will encourage—or, in the behavioral economics term, nudge—employers to take steps to prevent injuries so they’re not seen as unsafe places to work,” says Michaels. “After all, if you had a choice of applying for a job at a place where a worker had just lost a hand, vs. one where no amputation has occurred, which would you choose?”

Read Full Article