On a single day last month, a worker was electrocuted in Branson, Mo., a worker was struck and killed by a train in Stanley, N.D., two workers drowned in a pump pit in El Paso, Texas, and a worker was crushed by a forklift in Louisville, Ky.
And those are just the reported workplace deaths on the “fatalities and catastrophes” list maintained by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Beginning Jan. 1, OSHA rules will go into effect that may reveal higher daily death and injury counts on the job. Although most workplaces are far safer today than in the past, terrible accidents do occur, and the agency is implementing some broader reporting requirements for employers.
The new rule expands the list of severe work-related injuries that all employers with 10 or more employees must report to OSHA. The reports must be made within eight hours of the event. Reports also must be submitted within 24 hours for any work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. Previously, employers had to report only hospitalizations of three or more employees resulting from a workplace accident or illness.
The other big change in the new rules is an update of the list of industries that are exempt from routine injury and illness reporting requirements based on their “relatively low occupational injury and illness rates.” That change possibly could reduce some reporting requirements, but the full effect isn’t yet known.
The new rules retain the exemption from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of industry classification. Details are accessible online at OSHA.gov.
OSHA counted 4,405 work-related fatalities in 2013. The agency notes that, though each death is a tragedy, most U.S. workplace are safer now. The agency says 14,000 workers were killed on the job 38 years ago, when OSHA was created.