Bill Could Change Workplace Injury Reporting Procedures in California
Workplace injuries in California are not a trivial matter: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that hundreds of thousands of workplace injury cases are reported each and every year. These incidents result in lost productivity, increased insurance costs, and other financial harm for the employer and can be devastating for the injured worker.
The state’s worker’s compensation program requires that employers notify the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health by telephone or by e-mail within eight hours of when the employer learns that a serious or fatal workplace accident has occurred or should have learned that such an incident occurred. A bill that is awaiting approval aims to improve the reporting of these incidents, but could impose additional burdens on employers.
Creation of a New Online Workplace Accident Reporting Mechanism
The bill’s chief aim is to remove the ability of employers to report serious or fatal workplace injury incidents by e-mail and instead require the Division to create an online reporting website or mechanism instead. The text of the bill reveals the State Legislature’s belief that reporting these incidents by e-mail is unreliable and leads to reports being submitted that do not include all the pertinent information that the Division needs. As a result, the Division’s ability to take prompt action and/or begin an investigation into the incident is delayed, which in turn affects the outcome of such action or investigation.
If passed, the bill would require the Division to create some “mechanism” through which employers can submit accident reports online. Employers would still have the ability to submit reports over the telephone. Whether through the online mechanism or over the telephone, however, employers would be required to make their reports “immediately” as opposed to within eight hours. In other words, once an employer learns or should know that a serious injury or death has occurred on a Jobsite, that employer must make an immediate report to the Division (if the bill is signed into law).
Reporting of Serious Workplace Injury Incidents
The bill does not change what incidents must be reported. Title 8, Section 330(h) in the California Code of Regulations defines a “serious injury or illness” that must be reported to the Division as one involving “any injury or illness occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment which:”
- Requires an inpatient hospital stay of over 24 hours; or
- Involves dismemberment or serious or permanent disfigurement.
In addition, employers must report fatal workplace accidents. If the bill is signed by the governor, it would go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Speak to a California Employment Law Attorney Today
This bill is but one of several new employment law-related legislative measures that may impact California businesses in the upcoming year. Whether you are looking to take action now in order to comply with these future demands or if you find yourself facing legal trouble down the road, know that the Heit Law Group, P.C. is available to advise, assist, and represent you and your business interests. Let us get to know you and your business better: Call us at (310) 744-5227 or visit us online at https://heitlawgroup.com and let us know how we can serve you.