A recent audit and report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found a need for improvements in OSHA procedures to address underreporting of workplace-related serious injuries and fatalities.
The catalyst for this audit was an estimate from the former OSHA assistant secretary that 50 percent or more of severe injuries had gone unreported since OSHA implemented new employer reporting requirements in January 2015.
These regulations require employers to report all work-related fatalities and certain injuries, inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within specific timeframes. The regulations also encourage employers to both investigate these types of incidents and abate identified hazards to prevent such incidents from recurring.
In conducting the audit, OIG tested a sample of incidents reported from Jan. 1, 2015, to Sept. 20, 2016, and focused on who should investigate and whether employers had abated the hazards. OIG also assessed the adequacy of OSHA’s procedures for identifying unreported injuries.
The audit found that OSHA did not have controls in place to ensure that it had complete information on work-related severe injuries and fatalities and had only limited assurance from employers that they had properly abated hazards.
The report recommends that OSHA take the following steps to ensure that serious injuries are reported:
1. Develop guidance and train staff on identifying underreporting
2. Issue citations for all those who report incidents late
3. Clarify guidance on documenting essential decisions, collecting evidence to demonstrate corrective action, and monitoring employer-conducted investigations
4. Conduct inspections on all Category 1 incidents.