Revised California OSHA law expands reporting requirements for serious injuries

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Under California law, employers are required to report occupational injuries or illnesses to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier, or to the Department of Industrial Relations (if the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance). Additionally, employers are required to report cases involving “serious injury or illness, or death” to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA).

Effective January 1, 2020, the definition of “serious injury” was expanded. The definition previously required inpatient hospitalization (for treatment of a workplace injury) for more than 24 hours of treatment, and it only required that these reports be made if the employee suffered a “loss of member” or serious disfigurement. Now, employers are required to file a report with OSHA if the employee requires any hospitalization for treatment of a workplace injury (unless the hospitalization was only for medical observation or diagnostic testing), and for any “amputation” (which is defined more broadly than a “loss of member”). “Serious injury” was also expanded to include loss of an eye. The OSHA reports must now be made by telephone (employers were previously allowed to do reports by email), but employers will eventually be able to make reports online, once OSHA establishes a specific online mechanism for doing so.

Reports to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or the Department of Industrial Relations must be made within five days of learning about the injury or illness. Reports to OSHA must be made “immediately” in cases involving a serious injury or illness or death. If you have questions about what constitutes an occupational injury or a serious injury or about how and when to make a report, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney or an occupational safety expert immediately upon learning of the injury.