Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What to do with a Job Injury or Illness

OSHA Requirements When a Worker Experiences a Job-Related Injury or Illness

Over the past three decades, occupational injuries and illnesses in the U.S. have
declined by 42 percent, even though employment has more than doubled. Nevertheless, every year, nearly five million workers experience an occupational injury or illness on the job. More than half of these injuries and illnesses are severe enough to cause the worker to spend time away from work. OSHA, along with safety and health professionals around the nation, is working with employers and employees to move toward zero injuries and illnesses in U.S. workplaces. And the agency will not be satisfied until every worker in America goes home safe and sound each day.

Reporting Catastrophes
When a worker is killed on the job and/or three or more workers are hospitalized, the employer covered by OSHA must report to the agency within eight hours. Fatal heart attacks also must be reported. Employers can call the nearest OSHA area office or the agency’s toll-free number 800-321-OSHA (6742) to provide this information.

Providing First Aid
Employers who can not reach a hospital, infirmary or clinic within a reasonable amount of time must be prepared to provide first aid to workers who experience injuries or illnesses on the job. OSHA requires that adequate first aid supplies must be readily available and that someone must be adequately trained to render first aid.

The agency also encourages employers to consider acquiring automated external defibrillators (AEDs)—medical devices designed to revive victims of sudden cardiac arrest. These devices analyze a victim’s heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock to restore heart rhythm to normal. Battery-operated AEDs are compact, lightweight, portable, safe and easy to use. Having them onsite can save precious time and improve survival odds because they can be used before emergency medical service personnel arrive.

Recording Injuries and Illnesses
Most employers in high hazard industries are required to keep records of injuries and illnesses experienced by their employees. An annual summary of these injuries and illnesses must be posted in the workplace from February 1 to April 30. Details on recordkeeping requirements and forms are available from OSHA’s website at The website also offers training to help employers complete the forms.

Those with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from injury and illness recordkeeping requirements except when selected by OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics to participate in a mandatory data collection.

Investigating Accidents
One of the hallmarks of an effective safety and health management system is a commitment to investigate every incident that results in a worker injury or illness—and near-misses as well. By immediately following up, employers can identify root causes and take corrective steps to prevent future problems.

Getting Help with Safety and Health Management Systems
When it comes to injuries and illnesses, the best defense is a good offense— a pro-active safety and health management system that focuses on finding and fixing hazards before they can lead to problems. OSHA offers various services— such as consultation and compliance assistance programs— to help employers establish safety and health management systems.

OSHA’s Consultation Program, for example, is a free service to help smaller employers identify and fix hazards in their workplaces. OSHA also has compliance assistance specialists available in each area office to help employers and employees comply with OSHA requirements. OSHA cooperative and partnership programs often offer assistance with establishing safety and health management systems. Other sources of help include trade associations, insurance companies and private consultants.

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