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Employers must report work-related deaths and injuries to OSHA

Work-related injuries and deaths are a common problem across the United States, including in Illinois. To understand the causes of such accidents and to see patterns that could reveal ways to prevent such mishaps, the federal government long ago began requiring employers to report all incidents to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency within the Department of Labor. Among its responsibilities, OSHA investigates to determine whether an accident occurred because of a violation of federal work rules or OSHA standards. If so, then OSHA can impose penalties for each violation.

The most basic requirement is that an employer report any work-related death to OSHA within 8 hours and serious injuries within 24 hours. Although reporting can be done by phone call to the nearest OSHA office, most reports are submitted electronically through OSHA's website.

In every report the employer must provide information about the location and time of the accident, its nature and type, the names of all employees who were injured or killed and a brief but accurate description of the accident. If an employee is injured or killed in a car accident in a construction zone, the same information must be reported to OSHA. Similarly, if an employee dies from a heart attack while on the job, the employer needs to report the same facts, and OSHA will determine the cause of the heart attack by investigating the circumstances surrounding it and whether it was work related.

If an employer is not immediately informed about any workplace injuries or fatalities, a report can be sent to OSHA within the given time limits.

Depending on the business's level of cooperation, history and size, OSHA can adjust the penalties for any violations found. However, the employer must maintain complete records related to injuries and fatalities for future reference.

Source: OSHA, "Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness," Accessed on May 2, 2015

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