Revised OSHA Regulations Call for More Employer Transparency

Starting January 1, 2015, companies will be required to report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses within 24 hours of the incident. This comes as an update to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s current record-keeping requirements.

Currently, OSHA requires that employers report in-patient hospitalizations only if three or more employees are affected. Furthermore, amputations and eye losses were previously not required to be reported. Both the revised regulation and the previous regulation requirement that employers report work-related fatalities within eight hours. The new regulations reflect an effort on the part of OSHA to broaden its safety-reporting requirements.

Many employers, however, are not convinced that stricter federal requirements on reporting workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses will significantly improve workplace safety. Employers further argue that the new implementation will require that time and money be spent on compliance, even though there is little evidence that such a regulation revision will improve workplace safety.

Indeed, OSHA estimates it will take about 30 minutes, per incident, to gather and report the required information. OSHA officials estimate that if 120,000 additional reports are submitted nationally, and if the person making the report makes about $40 an hour, the reports could cost employers about $2.6 million nationwide. At present, OSHA receives an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 reports per year for fatalities and catastrophes resulting in three or more employees being hospitalized.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration aims to help employers and employees reduce on-the-job injuries, illnesses and deaths by directing national compliance initiatives in occupational safety and health.

If you have been injured during the course of your employment you may qualify for workers compensation. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Can a Company Require an Employee to Provide Notification Before Seeking Medical Treatment?

In short, no. Employers cannot required employees to give notification before seeking medical treatment. The issue arose in court after a FedEx employee alleged that he was fired for such a lack of notification. In the September 24, 2014 decision, a federal judge ruled the policy was effectively illegal.

According to reports, the employee had notified supervisor that he was suffering from back discomfort. As a result, the employee was scheduled for “light duty” for the duration of week. The employee subsequently scheduled an appointment with a physician’s assistant, who provided him with a note requesting his employer, FedEx, keep him on light duty until he could receive a complete evaluation. However upon receiving the note, FedEx fired the individual.
Although FedEx claimed that the then-employee violated company policy by not notifying his supervisor ahead of time that he was seeking medical treatment, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division determined that the company’s policy violated the employee’s right to seek medical treatment without interference.

As the Court opined, “[By] definition, imposing any prerequisite an employee must satisfy before seeking medical treatment ‘interferes’ with the employee’s right to seek and obtain medical treatment and therefore runs afoul of the [state] Workers’ Compensation Act.”

In New York State, workers’ compensation laws cover nearly all New York employees. If you are injured on the job, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible. While you are not required to notify your employer that you are seeking medical attention, New York workers’ compensation law does require the injured employee to notify their employer about the injury and the way in which it occurred within 30 days of the accident causing the injury.

The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.