Gearing Up for New Workers' Comp Rules

When it comes to workers' compensation, employers face two issues: handling the cost of this insurance coverage and managing government-mandated recordkeeping responsibilities. New reporting and recordkeeping rules take effect on January 1, 2015, so get ready now.

Changes in exemptions for reporting
Under federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, companies in certain industries with more than 10 employees must keep records of on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Under the new rules, the list of industries has been expanded to include auto parts stores, bakeries, building materials sellers, car dealers, museums, tire stores, wine stores, and others. There's a brief online tutorial that newly-included employers can use to familiarize themselves with the recordkeeping rules.

Note: If you are in a state that operates its own safety and health plan (called a state-plan state), check with your department of labor to determine whether the new rules apply to you.

Reporting workplace fatalities
If any worker dies on the job (whether or not the company is exempt from basic reporting requirements), this must be reported within 8 hours of finding out about it. This requirement has not changed.

Reporting for fatalities and serious injuries (discussed below) can be done in one of 3 ways:

  1. Calling OSHA at 800-321-OSHA.
  2. Calling or visiting the closest Area Office during normal business hours (assuming these fit your time constraints because you can't leave a phone message).
  3. Submitting an online form.

Reporting for fatalities and serious injuries is not required if they result from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway (other than in a construction work zone) or occur on commercial or public transportation. Fatalities that occur more than 30 days after a work-related incident also do not need to be reported; serious work-related injuries (defined below) must be reported within 24 hours. No reporting is required for a heart attack that results from a work-related incident.

Reporting serious injuries
Through the end of 2014, employers (including those exempt from basic reporting requirements) must report to OSHA any work-related hospitalization of 3 or more employees. Starting January 1, 2015, reporting applies to an inpatient hospitalization of even one employee, any work-related amputation, and any work-related loss of an eye (all considered "serious injuries"). Reporting must be done within 24 hours of learning about the injury.

Insurance reporting
Reporting to the government may be only half the job; informing your insurance carrier or state plan may also be required within set time limits. Check for:

  • What types of incidents you must report
  • When you must submit reports
  • Forms or other means of making reports

Conclusion
If you have any employees, make sure you have adequate workers' compensation coverage. For a quick overview of this insurance, see The Hartford's Business Owner's Playbook.

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