While loading docks may not get as much attention for their dangers and safety hazards as construction sites do, they are without a doubt the location for many accidents, serious injuries, and even deaths. In fact, 25% of all industrial accidents occur at loading docks, according to the trade publication Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN). And for each injury that occurs in a loading dock, there are hundreds of close calls. In 2017, at least 14 people were seriously injured from loading dock accidents, nine of which were fatalities, according to ISHN.
The sad reality is that accidents can and will happen. As a loading dock employer, you may have the misfortune of one of your workers being seriously injured or killed. This article will provide a step-by-step guide for reporting these serious injuries and fatalities.
Reporting to OSHA: It’s the Law
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a government agency of the Department of Labor, requires employers to report certain injuries under the law. This article will explain how to report injuries that occur in your loading dock following OSHA guidelines.
Under OSHA law, employers must report any worker fatality within 8 hours. Any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker must be reported within 24 hours. OSHA asks that the employer who provides the day-to-day supervision of the injured worker be the one to report.
After the injured worker has been hospitalized, you will need to contact the OSHA office nearest your company or business where the worker was injured. Click here to find your local OSHA office.
If you the local office is closed when you call, you must report the incident (Remember: it must be a fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye) by calling the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-6742. You may also report online. Under the law, all loading dock employers must report these incidents to OSHA, even if your loading dock company is usually exempt from routinely keeping OSHA records due to its size. No company is exempt from reporting these incidents to OSHA.
Have This Info Ready When You Call
When reporting the incident to OSHA, be ready to supply the following information:
- Business name
- Name(s) of employee(s) affected
- Location and time of the incident
- Brief description of the incident
- Contact person and phone number
It’s important to note that OSHA defines “in-patient hospitalization” as admission to the in-patient service of a hospital for treatment. Thus, if the employee was only treated in an emergency room only, it doesn’t need to be reported.
Special Cases Where No Report Is Required
There are special cases where employers do not have to report the event to OSHA. The incident does not need to be reported if it:
- Resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a highway or public street
- Happened on a commercial or public transportation system
- Involved hospitalization for diagnostic testing or observation only
Some states are not covered by federal OSHA, and some operate their own occupational safety and health programs for private sector workers. Because of this, reporting requirements may vary by state. However, all states must have or be in the process of developing requirements that are at least as effective as OSHA's requirements. Click here to refer to the status of reporting requirements in your state, if applicable For more info, visit the Office of State Programs' website.
Unrelated to Workers’ Compensation
It’s worth noting that these OSHA regulations for reporting serious injuries and fatalities are not the same as workers’ compensation. A reportable incident for OSHA does not mean that it automatically falls under the criteria of being compensable under workers’ comp law. On the other hand, just because an incident does not seem to be applicable under workers’ comp law, does not mean that it should not be reported.
Terms like “loss of an eye” and “amputation” may seem ambiguous. As an employer, make sure you understand what OSHA means with all the terms, stipulations, and rules so that if an issue arises, there is no question about the required course of action. If you’re in a situation where you don’t know what to do, err on the side of caution and contact OSHA. This will help you avoid fines for violations of OSHA’s reporting rules.
Questions? Call OSHA
If you have questions about the OSHA reporting guidelines, do not hesitate to ask. Call OSHA with any questions you have at 800-321-6742 (OSHA).
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