Workplace injuries range from minimal physical injuries such as paper cuts and scratches to more serious injuries ranging from slip-and falls, bruising, sprains and broken bones to calamitous injuries such as amputations, severe trauma or shootings and stabbings caused by workplace violence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, requires employers with 10 or more employees to report all workplace injuries regardless of severity.
Reporting Requirements Vary
Requirements for reporting workplace injuries can vary according to state and local law and organizational policies and procedures. Decisions to report workplace injuries also involve subjective factors such as the injured person’s assessment of her injury. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that federal injury-reporting requirements generally supersede state requirements, but that states can request variances for reporting workplace injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, categorizes illnesses and injuries according to the body part affected. The BLS does categorize workplace injuries as minor or major in its statistical reporting.
Report Workplace Injuries According to Employer Policy
Deciding whether an injury is minor or major and needs to be reported to your employer is a subjective process. The United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) union has a policy that all workplace injuries or illnesses causing any of the following conditions must be reported to OSHA: death, missed days of work, restricted work or transfer, medical treatment beyond first aid, loss of consciousness, or any work-related illness, condition or injury diagnosed by a licensed health-care provider.
This suggests that injuries not requiring reporting on OSHA form 300 may be considered “minor,” while injuries requiring reporting to OSHA are “major.” Employers may require employees to report all injuries to ensure compliance with OSHA and other reporting requirements.
“Minor” Injuries Can Become Worse
You slipped on wet flooring in your office, but are sure you’re OK. A few days later, you’re experiencing serious back pain and can barely walk. This is an example of why reporting all workplace injuries is important; what may seem minor at the time can worsen, become chronic or lead to complications such as infection, disease or disability. Allow your employer to determine minor from major injuries and report any injury or illness occurring in your workplace. Failing to promptly report workplace injuries to your employer can void or reduce insurance or legal claims related to your injury.
1. Any fracture, other than to the fingers, thumbs or toes
2. Any amputation
3. Dislocation of the shoulder, hip, knee or spine
4. Loss of sight (whether temporary or permanent)
5. A chemical or hot metal burn to the eye or a penetrating injury to the eye
6. Any injury resulting from electric shock or electrical burn (including any electrical burn caused by arcing or arcing products) leading to unconsciousness or requiring resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours
7. Any other injury: a) leading to hypothermia, heat-induced illness or to unconsciousness; b) requiring resuscitation; or c) requiring admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours
8. Loss of consciousness caused by asphyxia or by exposure to a harmful substance or biological agent
9. Either of the following conditions which result from the absorption of any substance by inhalation, ingestion or through the skin: a) acute illness requiring medical treatment; or b) loss of consciousness
10. Acute illness which requires medical treatment where there is reason to believe that this resulted from exposure to a biological agent or its toxins or infected material
Workplace Injury Benefits and Claims
Injuries requiring hospital care and ongoing treatment and therapy can quickly bankrupt employees without health coverage; preserving your right to worker’s compensation is crucial in such cases. Protecting your health and quality of life is the first consideration for reporting and treating workplace injuries. When reporting workplace injuries, report what happened as accurately as possible and supply names of witnesses. Cooperate with your employer’s investigation of your injury. Follow instructions and note deadlines for filing worker’s compensation and health insurance claims. Keep copies of all claim forms, correspondence and medical bills related to your workplace injury.