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Minnesota businesses face new health and safety regulations

Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require employers under its jurisdiction to report all work-related fatalities within eight hours of occurrence. Additionally, all incidents that include in-patient hospitalization, amputations and losses of an eye must be reported within 24 hours of the employer being informed of the incident. Updates in reporting obligations are believed to improve workplace safety overall by reducing potential dangerous and hazardous conditions.

The policy marks a change that previously required employers to report only work-related fatalities or hospitalizations of three or more employees involved in the same accident. Employers and companies with 10 or fewer employees, which are not required to maintain injury or illness records, have to act in accordance to the new OSHA regulations as well. Employers can report an incident via 24-hour telephone hotline, through the OSHA website or at the nearest OSHA office during regular business hours.

There are, however, numerous exemptions in place that allow companies some leeway providing information about work accident injuries and fatalities to OSHA officials. Some notable exceptions include reporting an injury that occurred on a commercial or public transportation system, injury occurring outside of the 24 hours when the work-related incident first took place, and fatalities that transpire beyond 30 days from the initial workplace injury.

Companies that fail to provide the necessary information as outlined by OSHA in a timely and expedient fashion could incur penalties. Recordkeeping forms are available on the OSHA website, but if significant workplace injuries or fatalities arise, advice and counsel from a professional could help manage the process and ordeal. Injured workers may be able to hold employers accountable by verifying whether proper protocol has been followed.

Source: Insurance Journal, "New OSHA Reporting Rules on Workplace Deaths, Hospitalizations in Effect Jan. 1", December 31, 2014

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