But the timing of the investigation depends heavily on when an employer reports an incident. This could mean that weeks or even months pass before an investigation can be completed. In many cases in the past, this has left even more workers at risk of suffering a serious or fatal injury because of hazardous work conditions.
New regulations though are strengthening reporting standards by giving employers a stricter time frame for filing incident reports. Effective January 1, all employers will be required to report fatal workplace accidents within eight hours of the accident occurring.
The new regulation will also impact reports regarding severe on-the-job injuries that require hospitalization as well. These types of accidents will need to be reported within 24 hours of occurrence and will likely be investigated on according to the priority system currently in use by OSHA.
Although this may seem like a minor change, reducing the report time window could end up being crucial in a number of investigations because it could help address serious hazards and correct them before other workers become injured.
It’s also worth pointing out that the sooner an OSHA investigator is able to file a report, the sooner an injured worker has access to evidence that could help their case for workers’ compensation benefits later on.
Source: PBS, “Feds issue new regulations on reporting fatal work injuries,” Tom Raum, Sept. 11, 2014