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Guidelines for Reporting Workplace Injuries & Illnesses

by Amanda Maddox

Construction sites and the trucking industry are both highly susceptible to workplace injuries, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries website. However, illnesses and injuries can occur in any type of profession. Properly reporting instances of injuries or illnesses is important to ensure the company meets federal reporting regulations.

What is a Reportable Instance

A work-related injury or illness is the direct result of an on-the-job occurrence or accident. For instance, repetitive use of the wrist while working on the computer can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which is considered a work-related illness. On the other hand, if an employee does not use his wrist to perform his job, but develops carpal tunnel syndrome due to a congenital defect, this is not considered a workplace ailment. Common issues in the workplace include cuts, fractures, sprains, amputations, poisoning and skin diseases.

When to Report

All injuries or illnesses must be reported to the employer within a specified time frame. As a general rule, the supervisor or foreman must be notified immediately when an employee is involved in an accident or occurrence, or as soon as an illness is suspected. The incident report must be completed in the time frame outlined in the employer's policy guidelines. These guidelines vary from one organization to the next. For instance, Princeton University requires the reporting officer to complete and submit injury reports within seven days.

OSHA Reporting

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to record and report all workplace injuries and illnesses that result from an event or exposure in the work environment that either caused or contributed to the condition. The info must be recorded on the OSHA 300 log. For each incident on the log, the employer must complete an OSHA 301 Incident Report form. Any fatality on the job must be reported verbally to OSHA as soon as possible. A record of any injuries or illnesses that result in loss of consciousness or lost job time must also be reported. If a doctor treats an employee for an illness or injury, even if it is not life threatening, it must be reported as well.

Employee Training

Addressing the policy for reporting on-the-job injuries or illnesses during employee orientation is important. When an employee is moved into a supervisor or lead position, she must be oriented on how to handle injury and illness reporting based on facility policy. Additionally, the individual handing OSHA reporting -- typically the human resources or environmental health safety manager -- must receive proper recordkeeping and reporting training that meets OSHA requirements.

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