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Revised rule improves workplace accident reporting to OSHA

Let's say that you work for a company that is in the industrial sector, and part of your job is to work with heavy machinery every day. You're highly skilled at this job and you've received extensive training, but even the most highly skilled and trained employees aren't immune to being involved in an accident.

You do your job admirably and without incident for years. But one day, a terrible work accident occurs while you are using a piece of heavy machinery. Thankfully, you survive the ordeal -- but you lose one of your hands in the incident. It's a very dire hypothetical situation, but some iteration of this imaginary story happens far more often than you would think in the United States and, really, all around the globe.

But here's the kicker: given this accident has happened, you would probably assume that your employer is required to tell the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the accident, right? In fact, that is not the case. Companies are only required to tell OSHA about on-the-job injuries or incidents if an employee is killed or if at least three employees or hospitalized.

However, there is some good news. Starting on Jan. 1, 2015, new rules will be put into place requiring companies to alert OSHA to on-the-job incidents if an employee is injured requiring hospitalization, and this covers incidents that involve amputation or eye loss.

This will provide some new data for employees, companies and OSHA, and it could dramatically improve workplace safety in the coming years.

Source: Bloomberg, "Under New Federal Rules, Employers Will Have to Report All Amputations," Josh Eidelson, Sept. 12, 2014

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