By: Daniel R. Flynn, Esq.
On July 19, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) and U.S. Steel reached a settlement agreement in a whistleblower action that OSHA had brought against U.S. Steel involving U.S. Steel’s injury and illness reporting rules.
The case arose following two workplace accidents at U.S. Steel. The injured employees did not immediately report the injuries in violation of U.S. Steel’s injury and illness reporting rules. U.S. Steel disciplined the employees for violating the company’s policy. Following a whistleblower complaint and investigation, OSHA sued U.S. Steel, in part on the grounds that “an injury or illness reporting policy that requires employees to report their workplace injuries or illnesses earlier than seven calendar days after the injured or ill employee becomes aware of his or her injury or illness” deters and discourages accurate injury and illness reporting.
As part of the settlement, U.S. Steel agreed to amend its injury and illness reporting policies in a manner acceptable to OSHA. These policies, which were included as exhibits to the Settlement Agreement, provide guidance on what OSHA will consider to be a compliant injury and incident reporting policy under its new rule, which is scheduled to become effective on November 1, 2016. We previously published a client alert about OSHA’s amendment to its injury and illness reporting standards here.
Employers should take this opportunity to review their injury and illness reporting programs to ensure that they comply with OSHA’s new standards. U.S. Steel’s new Occupational Illness and Injury Reporting Policy and Incident Without Injury Reporting Policy can be read here.
New Policy Highlights
U.S. Steel agreed to implement the following work‐related injury and illness reporting policy:
- An employee who is at work when s/he becomes aware of an injury or illness must report it as soon as reasonably possible, but in no event later than leaving the plant or 8 hours after becoming aware of the injury or illness, whichever is earlier. The report must be made to the employee’s supervisor, or, if prompt medical attention is needed, to Emergency Services.
- An employee who is not at work when s/he becomes aware of an injury or illness must report it as soon as reasonably possible, but in no event later than 8 hours after becoming aware of the injury or illness. The employee must report the injury or illness by calling his/her supervisor or the applicable “Call Off” telephone number explaining that s/he is reporting a work‐related injury or illness.
- No employee who complies with this policy will be disciplined for not promptly reporting an injury or illness
As part of the settlement, U.S. Steel also agreed to amend its general incident reporting policies that apply to “an unexpected and undesirable workplace event that results in damage to equipment or facilities or which could have resulted in injury, illness or death.” The policy states that, “[e]mployees are required to report all Workplace Incidents without Injury in which they are involved, which they observe, or which they are aware of. Such Workplace Incidents without Injury must be reported as soon as reasonably possible, but in no event later than leaving the plant.”
Leech Tishman’s OSHA Compliance, Enforcement & Litigation Subgroup has experience counseling companies on a wide range of OSHA issues. Should you have any questions on OSHA’s Injury and Illness Reporting Rules, please feel free to contact Daniel R. Flynn, a partner at Leech Tishman and chair of the firm’s Environmental, Health & Safety Practice Group. Dan also chairs the OSHA subgroup. He can be reached in our Chicago office at 630.536.1171 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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