The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Sept. 11 released new final requirements that expand the types of non-fatal injuries that most companies must report to the agency.
Under the new severe-injuries-and-illness reporting requirements, which take effect Jan. 1, employers must notify OSHA within eight hours after a worker is killed on the job and within 24 hours after a worker suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.
Employers previously were required to notify OSHA only when a fatality occurred and when three or more employees were hospitalized from a single incident.
All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with the revised rule.
Unlike some industries, such as retailers, construction has never been exempt from reporting injury and illness data to OSHA.
Employers in states with state-run OSHA plans are advised to check with their agencies for the implementation date, but federal OSHA is encouraging a Jan. 1 deadline for all states, according to Durability + Design, a coatings publication.
Employers with less than 10 employees remain exempt from record-keeping requirements. The publication says OSHA is developing an electronic reporting form as well as phone reporting options.
OSHA has revised the types of employers covered and exempted by the new rules, based on more recent changes in the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.
Newly covered employers include building material and supplies dealers (NAICS Code 4441); those providing services to buildings and dwellings (5617); commercial and industrial machinery and equipment rental and leasing firms (5324); and those providing facilities support services (5612).
Partially exempt employers in the industry now include architectural, engineering and related services (NAICS Code 5413); specialized design services (5414); computer systems design and related services (5415); management, scientific and technical consulting services (5416); pipeline transportation (4861, 4862, 4869); and schools, technical schools, colleges and universities (6111 through 6117)
Associated General Contractors spokeman Brian Turmail says the group is "still evaluating the potential impact of OSHA’s new final rule, with a special emphasis on whether this new reporting requirement will contribute to greater workplace safety.”
Chris Williams, director of safety for the Associated Builders and Contractors, says, “Our goal remains to achieve zero-incidence jobsites in which every worker goes home safely to his or her family in the same—or better—condition than which they arrived, but we are still concerned that this change in the way data is collected may be overly burdensome to smaller firms and could result in inaccurate or skewed data that may negatively affect future policies.”
Meanwhile, construction’s workplace deaths edged downward, by 1%, in 2013, but its 796 fatalities were the highest total among U.S. industries, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.
In its latest annual workplace fatal-injury report, released on Sept. 11, BLS said construction’s 2013 total was down slightly from 2012, when the figure was 806.
In another key measurement, BLS said construction’s 2013 fatality rate was 9.4 per 100,000 full-time-equivalent workers, an improvement from 9.9 in 2012.
But construction ranked highest among U.S. industries in fatal injuries. The transportation and warehousing sector was second, with 687, followed by agriculture-forestry-fishing-hunting, with 479.
The BLS figures for 2013 are preliminary. Revised, final figures will be released in late spring 2015.
The most recent peak for construction fatalities came in 2006, when they stood at 1,239. The total declined each year through 2011, when the total was 738.
Construction’s recent peak fatality rate was 11.2 in 2006, and its lowest level was 9.1 in 2011.
AGC's Turmail says that if the final 2013 number shows a decline in construction fatalities, it will be a positive sign. He adds, “But we’re impatient to see even more improvement on the fatality numbers for the industry.”
Turmail says, “The bottom line is…we’re not going to be happy until the number’s zero.”
He notes that, in June, AGC launched a research project to evaluate the incident reports of all the construction fatalities to see if there are “common threads” the group can share with the entire construction industry to improve safety.
BLS also said total U.S. workplace injuries decreased to 4,405 in 2013 from 4,628 in 2012. The fatality rate also improved, to 2013's 3.2 from 2012's 3.4.
But the bureau noted that, over the previous five years, the revised final numbers showed an annual net increase of 165 fatality cases from the prelminary figures.
Article revised on Sept. 12 to include information on the new OSHA injury-and-illness reporting rule.