Guide to Reporting a Workplace Accident
Workplace accidents can happen in every industry. Even office settings are subject to accidents during daily operations. In most cases, the only thing that employees need to know about reporting an accident is who to notify. A supervisor or human resources professional is the best place to start when it comes to workplace accidents. They can direct you to the established reporting process. If you are concerned that your report is not being recorded, or if you are responsible for reporting an accident on behalf of your company, here is what you need to know:
Employers are required to report all workplace accidents to OSHA. All deaths must be reported within 8 hours and hospitalizations, eye loss, and amputations must be reported within 24 hours. All businesses that employ more than 10 employees have to keep up-to-date injury and illness records and they must publicly post information within the workplace. Even minor accidents should be recorded, including work-related cuts, heat exhaustion, and sprains. Failure to follow OSHA regulations can lead to fines and lawsuits.
Employees who are involved in or witness to an accident or illness have the responsibility of informing an employer about the incident as soon as possible. Even minor accidents should be reported. Remember, OSHA law prevents employers from discriminating against employees because of a workplace injury or illness, so don’t be afraid to speak out about a work-related accident.
When a workplace accident report is created, it will need to include specific information to satisfy OSHA requirements. The form can be company-created or follow a generic incident report outline. Information in the report should include:
• The name of the injured person or persons
• Contact information for all parties involved
• Department information
• Work ID numbers
• Time, date, and location of the incident
• Details about the accident including contributing factors and prior events
• Injury or illness details
• Treatment details
• Time that has been taken off as a result of the accident
More information is always better in workplace accident reports. Employers should include any supporting documents that may clarify the context of a workplace accident, and employees involved should ask for a copy of the official report to keep on file. If an employee pursues legal action after the accident, keeping a copy of the original report may discourage dishonest employers from trying to change their story.
Every employer is required to maintain compliance with OSHA regulations and keep OSHA-required records for at least 5 years. If you are an employee and you feel that a workplace accident has not been successfully reported, or your work environment is unsafe, you can report an OSHA violation. Try to talk to your employer first. If they fail to remedy the situation, you can file a complaint in writing, online, or via the phone. Legally, you are protected from retaliation from your employer if you choose to submit a complaint.
If you are unsure about your company’s reporting policies, ask your supervisor or human resources department about accident reporting. They should have an easy-to-follow plan for addressing workplace accidents and have incident report forms readily available to all staff members.
When to Contact an Attorney
Some employers will disregard the law and fail to maintain OSHA standards, or they may act against you for speaking out about the handling of a workplace accident. Without proper reporting, workers’ compensation benefits may be limited. Consult a knowledgeable Dallas work injury attorney at the Benton Law Firm for a free consultation about your workplace accident case. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to receive better compensation benefits. Speaking out against unethical practices can also prevent future accidents from affecting other employees just like you. Your attorney can help you talk with your employer and OSHA officials to make sure that safety and health issues are properly remedied.