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New OSHA guidelines promote workplace safety

North Carolina residents may not have heard about the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration reporting rules that came into effect Jan. 1. According to the federal agency, employers that fall under the OSHA jurisdiction will be mandated to report any fatalities that occur on the job within eight hours of the incident. Additionally, other work-related accidents, such as amputations, and all in-patient hospitalizations must be reported within 24 hours.

In the past, employers were only required to report fatalities and hospitalizations if three or more workers were involved in the same accident. However, under the new policy, even smaller companies that were previously exempt from maintaining OSHA records must now comply with the new guidelines. The safety agency put the procedures in place in order to promote employee safety on the job and prevent future injuries from taking place by assisting in discovering and defeating potential job-site hazards.

The policy also exempts some circumstances from having to be reported, such as injuries that occur on public transportation systems, hospitalization stays that are for diagnostic testing only and hospitalization stays resulting from a heart attack that resulted from a work-related accident. The agency requires that specific information be disclosed if an employer does file a report, such as a brief description of the incident, the names of employees who were injured and the type of event being reported.

While the new procedures are intended to protect employees from on-the-job injuries, it is probable that the new guidelines will not be able to stop every accident from happening. A workplace injury can be very costly; medical bills and lost wages may be difficult to recover from. An attorney who is experienced in matters like worker's compensation may be able to assist an employee who has suffered from a workplace injury.

Source: Insurance Journal, "New OSHA Reporting Rules on Workplace Deaths, Hospitalizations in Effect Jan. 1", December 31, 2014

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