The Next 24 Hours: What Happens After You Report a Worksite Injury to OSHA? | JD Supra

The Next 24 Hours: What Happens After You Report a Worksite Injury to OSHA? | JD Supra

What exactly happens after you submit an injury report to OSHA? How does OSHA decide which incidents warrant an on-site inspection and which qualify for the often less-consequential Rapid Response Investigation? OSHA defense expert Ian McNeill walks us through the next 24 hours after a worksite injury is reported:

Following a worksite accident, you are required to report certain injuries to OSHA within eight to 24 hours. Upon receipt of your report, OSHA’s Area Director will sort the report into one of three categories:

Because each communication you have with OSHA, including the initial injury report, can influence the agency’s decision on how to proceed – and avoiding an inspection is the best-case scenario – it is never too early to seek guidance. Contact an OSHA defense attorney immediately following a workplace incident or OSHA inspection.

Our OSHA defense team can help you manage the flow of documents to OSHA (because not having a required document can be more damaging than an incomplete one) and educate you and your employees on how to interact with OSHA, emphasizing that OSHA is an enforcement agency. We can help you prepare a thorough and accurate response to OSHA without exposing yourself to unnecessary liability, proactively working to reduce the likelihood of citations, fines, and classifications.

Learn more about OSHA's injury reporting requirements and what to include in your report.

Category 1 reports are the most serious since there is a high likelihood that an on-site inspection will lead to a citation. Category 1 applies if any of the following conditions are met:

If the report does not meet any of the Category 1 criteria above, Area Directors have the discretion to determine whether the incident calls for an on-site inspection or if it can be addressed through the agency’s often-less-consequential Rapid Response Investigation (RRI). The RRI process was introduced in 2014 to deal with the large volume of employer reports and allows employers to self-investigate the incident.

Area Directors base their decision on their knowledge of the incident and in consideration of the following, non-exclusive list factors:

If upon review of your report and consideration of the above factors, the Area Director decides not to conduct an onsite inspection, your report is designated Category 3 and qualifies for a Rapid Response Investigation (RRI).

During an RRI, the employer is asked to initiate its own investigation into the reported incident and “make any necessary changes to avoid further incidents.”

Expect a phone call from the Area Director or their designee, which usually occurs the morning after an accident. The intent of this call is to gather any missing information about the circumstances of the incident and to explain the actions the employer must complete as part of the RRI process. These instructions are also included in a letter from OSHA.

You must conduct and present written results of your investigation and abatement verification within five days of receiving the call from OSHA that initiated the RRI, although you can request an extension.

While this process does give you more control over the situation, it is not a free pass. If OSHA is dissatisfied with your accident investigation report and the remedies you have implemented, the agency may still decide to conduct its own inspection and issue a citation related to the incident. Your investigation report can even be used as evidence against you, and therefore should be crafted carefully and advisably under the advice of legal counsel.

Please also be aware that anywritten statements to OSHA are “discoverable” by plaintiffs’ attorneys should a workplace accident lead to personal injury litigation.

If your incident report falls into Category 1, or Category 2 and an on-site inspection is warranted, OSHA will usually conduct an on-site inspection within five working days of the initial report, or sooner for fatalities and other catastrophes

Learn how to prepare for an on-site OSHA inspection

The first 24 hours after a workplace accident are crucial.

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