Accidents happen. But going without reporting an accident to OSHA can be costly. When a team member encounters a serious accident that requires hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye, you have no more than 24 hours to report the event for OSHA compliance. Any work-related fatality must be reported even sooner – within 8 hours.
While this you might’ve hopefully known, you may be less aware of a new process OSHA is rolling out to prioritize responses so the agency can be more efficient than ever in how it handles its next step after an accident.
What’s new? The RRI process.
This year, the agency anticipated a big jump in the number of accidents reported, prompting it to divide its responses into one of two categories: On-site inspections or a new “Rapid Response Investigation” (RRI) process.
In the event that OSHA decides an on-site inspection isn’t warranted – usually within five business days – the agency will trigger an RRI. The RRI takes place within one day of a reported injury.
How does the RRI work?
First, a call is initiated by a representative from your OSHA Area Office to review all details of the incident, including the circumstances leading to the accident. But the call doesn’t just relate to communicating any and all prior events. OSHA will also want to know what you’re doing as an employer to ensure the accident won’t occur again. So you’ll be outlining the steps you’ve taken since then to respond and protect your employees from being repeatedly in harm’s way.
The discussion will almost certainly include any assistance you need to bring your facility up to full safety compliance. During this time, you’ll not only need to post a letter from OSHA for employees to notify them that an internal investigation is being conducted. You’ll need to respond within five business days with documentation of the internal investigation to ensure OSHA that these steps for compliance have been taken.
How do you know if OSHA’s response will be on-site investigation or RRI?
There are three categories that OSHA classifies for events to determine its next move.
- Category 1 – Fatalities, reports of two or more in-patient hospitalization, injuries to a worker under 18 years old or repeat offenders of being in non-compliance. This will lead to an on-site investigation.
- Category 2 – Two or more conditions exist where there has been: Continued exposure to a hazard resulting in injury or illness, safety program failure, exposure to a serious hazard such as explosives, temporary workers involved in the event, history of inspections or an incident involving health issues related to chemical exposure or heat stress. Here too an on-site investigation will likely occur.
- Category 3 – If all other types of incidents are outside of the first two categories, a Rapid Response Investigation will be opened.
If your facility is undergoing an RRI and it’s a challenge to meet the requirements of your RRI in five business days, you may be granted an extension of “complicated events,” but remember – when it comes to OSHA, it’s not a good idea to put them off for long. In fact, if you don’t respond to them at all, you could be inviting an on-site inspection that uncovers more problems than in the original area where the accident occurred.
Naturally, the proactive steps you take to ensure OSHA compliance in your facility may go a long way toward minimizing your company’s risk – from risk of injury to your employees to risk of heavy financial losses due to fines.
That’s why it’s smart to talk to SOS about our OSHA Compliance Audit to fully explore your safety procedures, equipment, tools and policies. After all, it’s going to be a lot better if we find the root causes of your safety challenges before OSHA knocks on your door. So contact us today at 888.705.6100 email@example.com.