2015 OSHA regulations shorten notification period to 24 hours
Construction companies will face stricter federal injury and accident reporting requirements next year, as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aims to improve jobsite safety and enhance tracking and analysis of worksite injuries. Beginning January 1st, 2015, construction employees and contractors must report all jobsite fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations and eye injuries to OSHA within 24 hours. Worksite fatalities must be reported within eight hours. The new law revises current regulations, under which employers are only required to notify OSHA in the event of a worksite fatality or an accident that sends three or more employees to the hospital. Under the new laws, OSHA officials expect to see an increase in the number of reported injuries and gather more detail into the specific causes of these accidents. Doing so will help improve risk analysis and mitigation strategies on construction sites.
In addition to the pending federal updates, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has revised its notification requirements for construction contractors to include any job-related injury for which a worker receives immediate off-site medical treatment. In the past, notification was only required for injuries that required hospitalization or treatment by paramedics. The regulations become effective December 31st, 2014 under the 2014 New York City Construction Codes, and are the first comprehensive revision of the city’s administrative, building, mechanical, fuel gas and plumbing laws in close to 50 years. New York construction property laws are changing as well; contractors will be required to notify the DOB of any property damage caused by construction demolition to private or public properties adjoining a worksite. Previously, only property owners were required to notify the city agency of any damage caused to their property by adjacent construction projects.
While the new federal and New York injury reporting requirements pose new challenges to contractors, experts recommend the use of on-site medics as one way to reduce liability. A growing number of employers are investing in on-site medical staff to provide initial treatment of injuries, which helps control claims and the potential to losses. Employers should be sure to inform all construction contractors and personnel of the new regulations, and New York contractors should be made aware of the additional requirements that affect their reporting responsibilities. The reporting details collected by OSHA and the New York DOB will determine future changes to safety codes and construction regulations, such as access to building permits and the frequency of OSHA site inspections. In order to secure the best line of defense, employers and contractors should remain focused on implementing quality job-site safety programs that are fully compliant with the latest laws and notification standards.
About the Author
Chuck Rogers is a Senior Vice President, Senior Account Manager and the Staff Engineer at WGA. He is responsible for the design, marketing and implementation of Property and Casualty programs and advises all aspects of his specialty area, Loss Control Engineering.