Georgia business owners face a number of challenges when dealing with employee sicknesses and injuries, largely due to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s requirements regarding recordkeeping. Here are some examples of the incidents employers must report to OSHA and those that should not be reported.
Employers must report any employee injury or illness that leads to unconsciousness, missed workdays or a restriction in the type of work that the employee can do. Furthermore, injuries or illnesses that need more than basic first aid treatment must be reported. If the employee lost a limb or an eye or was treated by a doctor or other health professional, OSHA requires the employee to report the incident within 24 hours. If an employee’s injuries were fatal, the employer must report this to OSHA within eight hours.
OSHA also requires employers to report incidents involving serious illnesses or injuries diagnosed by a healthcare professional, such as punctured eardrums, cancer, cracked or fractured teeth or bones, and any chronic irreversible diseases. Special rules apply to employees who developed a hearing loss, were injured by sharps or needle sticks, or contracted tuberculosis while working.
On the other hand, employers should not report any workplace injury or illness that was treated with simple first aid. Not only is this not required, but doing so could also result in a citation or workplace inspection by OSHA. Just one violation can cost an employer nearly $14,000 in fines. Some examples of first aid are giving employees water to relieve heat stress, removing a foreign object from an eye using a cotton swab or water, and giving a tetanus immunization.
Under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, employees have the right to file a claim for a serious workplace injury or illness. A workers’ compensation attorney may help employees obtain the benefits they need to help them pay for their medical expenses and income losses.