In 2019 The Division of Occupational Safety and Health in California – better known as Cal/OSHA – updated the incident reporting requirements for severe injury. These changes have caused many California employers to update their procedures for navigating a workplace injury. However, there are still many employers who are unaware of the changes and the implications to their workplace. If you’re still trying to understanding these new requirements – or are hearing about it for the first time – here’s what you need to know.

These changes are covered under Assembly Bills 1804 and 1805 and have gone into effect on January 1, 2020. Find information from Cal/OSHA here.

What Changes Were Made?

There were a few large changes made including the time frame, methods for reporting and definition of a serious injury or illness.

Time Frame for Reporting

Under the new incident reporting requirement, every employer must report immediately to the nearest Direct Office of Cal/OSHA any serious injury or illness or death of an employee occurring in a place of employment (or in connection with employment).

In this circumstance, “immediate” means as soon as practically possible, but no longer than 8 hours after the employer knows or with diligence would have known of the injury. If the employer can demonstrate that challenging circumstances exist, the time frame for reporting may be extended.

Methods for Reporting

Previously, employers could report a serious injury or illness via telephone or email. However, reporting by email meant key details were often not included which prolonged the start of an investigation. To combat this issue – and expedite the process for investigation – Cal/OSHA is now directing employers to report serious injuries either by telephone or a new online form. At this time, the online form is not available. Any updates can be found at this page.

Definition of a Serious Injury or Illness

The term “serious” may be relative, so Cal/OSHA has given specific list of requirements. A serious injury or illness involves any one of the following:

  • any hospitalization, regardless of length of time, for other than medical observation or diagnostic testing;
  • amputation;
  • loss of an eye; or
  • serious degree of permanent disfigurement.

Here are some examples of a serious injury or illness:

  • Damaged body organs
  • Amputations or near amputations
  • Injury to eyes
  • Poisoning requiring hospitalization
  • Hospital stay over 24 hours

If you conduct business in California, immediately notify all managers and supervisors of these changes. Should a serious injury occur in your workplace, your organization will now be held accountable to the new requirements. Update all procedures to include this important step of reporting injuries now covered under the new serious injury definition and prepare your organization to proactively manage injuries.

It is, of course, important to mention these measures are only necessary when injuries occur. It is our goal to help your organization achieve zero workplace injuries. Wherever you are on the journey to zero, we’re here to help guide you towards success. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions. You can reach the Optimum team at 630.759.9908 or Info@Optimum-USA.com.

For more information on OSHA’s federal recordkeeping requirements, check out this webinar recording.

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