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OSHA updates workplace injury and death requirements

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal, and in some cases state, agency tasked with establishing and enforcing workplace safety and health rules and regulations. Under federal law, U.S. employers with 10 or more employees are required to keep records of and report workplace related injuries, accidents and illnesses to OSHA. In September, the agency announced updates and changes to policy regarding when employers must report workplace-related deaths and serious injuries.

Currently, employers are only required to report work-related fatalities or injuries if three or more employees are impacted by a single event. The recently announced rule changes, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, will now require employers to report any work-related fatality within eight hours and any serious work injury that results in an employee's hospitalization within 24 hours.

Information released earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics details that more than 4,400 U.S. workers died during 2013 while on the job. In response, OSHA announced the changes to its reporting requirements as a means to be more proactive and discover potential workplace health and safety hazards before workers are negatively impacted.

Serious injuries that must now be reported under the new OSHA severe injuries reporting requirements include amputations, loss of an eye and other serious injuries that result in an employee's hospitalization. All employers, regardless of the number of employees, must comply with this requirement.

While OSHA and other federal and state agencies work to promote workplace safety, many Colorado workers are exposed to dangerous work conditions on a daily basis. Employers must do more to ensure they are in compliance with OSHA regulations and employees should be vigilant in reporting employers who fail to provide for their safety and wellbeing.

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