Should I Call OSHA After a Work Accident?

Find out if you should contact OSHA following an accident with expert advice on incident reporting and workplace safety regulation
Two construction workers looking at plans for a project at work

A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published on Memorial Day estimates that 4,764 workers in the United States suffered fatal work injuries in 2020. The private construction industry leads the way, with over 1,000 fatalities reported in the same period. No one wants to experience a workplace accident, but it can happen despite all our safety efforts. It is crucial to understand your employer has OSHA-mandated responsibilities regarding workplace accidents.

If a severe injury or fatality occurs on the job, your employer is legally required to report the incident to OSHA within specified hours. Generally, your employer’s communication with OSHA, including the initial injury report they submit, can determine the agency’s course of action going forward. 

At Renfro & Renfro, PLLC, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your work injury and conduct an investigation into the root cause of your work injury. 

OSHA Workplace Accident Reporting Requirements

Accidents and dangerous occurrences must be reported to OSHA per the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Regulations 2016 (SISI No. 370 of 2016). Workplace fatalities and injuries resulting from an employee missing normal work duties for more than three consecutive days should be reported to the authorities. 

The following are crucial OSHA workplace accident reporting requirements: 

  • A fatality must be reported within 8 hours.
  • Any severe injury that results in hospitalization, amputation, eye loss, and other serious harm should be reported within 24 hours. 
  • Remember, only fatal and non-fatal injuries are reportable. In essence, you are not required to report diseases, occupational illnesses, and other impairments of mental conditions.

Does Cutting a Fingertip Count as an Amputation?

OSHA defines an amputation as any traumatic loss of a limb or external body part. These include body parts that have been severed, cut off, or reattached. This means fingertip amputations with or without bone loss qualifies as an amputation. 

What Companies Are Required to Report?

OSHA reporting requirement applies to most private sector employers in the U.S. Provided your company is not a farm, a government sector entity, or an organization, it’s safe to assume this reporting requirement applies to your employer.

How to Report an Accident to OSHA

There are typically three ways to report a fatality or an injury described above:

  • Call the Local Area OSHA office: The first step after an accident is to call your local area OSHA office. However, accidents can happen in the wee hours of the day. If the local area OSHA is closed or unreachable for some reason, you don’t wait for the office to open. Find another way to report the accident.
  • Call the OSHA 24-hour hotline: 1-800-321-6742.
  • Report the incident online

If your employer does not contact OSHA, you can report an injury to OSHA using the above contact information.

What Information Does OSHA Require?

Before you contact OSHA, you should get the following information ready:

  • The business name
  • Names of affected employees
  • Location of the incident
  • Time of the incident
  • A brief description of the incident 
  • Contact person and phone number

If you are reporting the incident online, you may be required to provide additional details regarding the incident. It is always advisable to be prepared to provide such information on short notice.

What Happens After Submitting an Accident Report to OSHA?

Once OSHA has received a report, OSHA will sort out the report into three categories. These categories determine whether the incident warrants an onsite inspection or rapid response investigation:

  • Category 1 reports: Category 1 incidents require onsite OSHA inspection. Category 1 reports apply if an accident meets the following conditions: a fatality, accidents that result in two or more inpatient hospitalizations, injuries involving a worker under 18, or accidents involving repeat offenders.
  • Category 2 reports: This may result in an onsite OSHA inspection at the discretion of Area Directors and based on specific scenarios of the incident. The director considers factors such as the specific incident that caused a safety program, the underlying hazards that could cause further incidences, history of OSHA inspections and violations.
  • Category 3 reports: Category 3 incidents don’t require an onsite OSHA inspection. This report requires employers to submit a report explaining how the accident occurred and the steps they have taken to prevent such accidents in the future. 

Contact an Experienced Virginia Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Pursue Your Case

Despite best efforts to keep the workplace free of hazards, accidents and injuries can still happen. When an accident occurs, it is crucial to understand the steps to take to protect yourself and your family. OSHA violations can result in severe fines, penalties, or even loss of business licenses for an employer.

At Renfro & Renfro, PLLC, we help injured workers’ receive the medical care they need to return to the workforce and wage loss benefits they are entitled to maintain the livelihood while they are out of work. Contact us today at (804) 601-4433 or online for a free consultation


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