OSHA Reporting of Fatalities and Serious Injuries


Under the US Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers are subject to strict reporting requirements if a “work-related incident” causes an employee:

  • Fatality
  • Hospitalization
  • Amputation
  • Loss of an eye

The general rule is that work-related fatalities must be reported within eight hours after they occur, while hospitalizations, amputations and eye losses must be reported within 24 hours.

But like most OSHA regulations, the details matter. Figuring out whether and when your business is (or was) required to report an incident – and how to go about reporting it – often requires an OSHA compliance lawyer to consider the circumstances around the incident, and the regulation’s exceptions, safe harbors, and agency interpretations.

Who must Report

This is a straightforward issue – ALL employers must report deaths and serious injuries to OSHA even if they are otherwise exempt from other OSHA requirements because of their workforce size (e.g., under 10 employees) or industry.

How to Report

OSHA gives businesses three options:

  • Call the nearest OSHA office
  • Call OSHA’s 24-hour hotline at 800-321-6742
  • File a report online

If your local OSHA office is closed when you need to make a report – for example, after business hours or during a weekend or holiday – you must use the OSHA hotline or website.

What to Report

The information OSHA requires in the initial report is pretty basic:

  • Name of the business
  • Name of the employee(s) affected
  • Location and time of the work-related incident
  • Brief description of the incident
  • Name of a contact person at the business and his/her phone number

When to Report

Although the basic deadlines are eight hours for an employee death and 24 hours for a hospitalization, amputation or loss of eye, there’s often an issue around knowledge — I.e., when did the employer find out about the incident. In cases where no manager or other authorized agent of an employer finds out about a reportable incident until after the applicable deadlines, OSHA rules provide that the time periods begin to run once a manager or agent has that knowledge. In other words, an employee fatality must be reported to OSHA within eight hours after the employer’s management or agent learns of the death. Similarly, a work-related hospitalization, amputation or eye loss must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours after a manager or agents learns of them.

Time Delay Issues

The OSHA reporting requirements apply even if there is a delay between the work-related incident and its ultimate results. A fatality is reportable if it occurs within 30 days after a work-related incident that caused the employee’s death. Similarly, a hospitalization, amputation or eye loss is reportable if it occurs within 24 hours after the work-related incident causing it.

Hospitalization Defined

A reportable hospitalization is an employee’s formal admission for an in-patient stay at a hospital for care and treatment. A hospitalization that takes place solely in the emergency room, or an in-patient stay solely for testing and observation, does not qualify as a reportable hospitalization.

Amputation Defined

OSHA regulations define an amputation as

the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part” including “a limb or appendage, that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; amputations of body parts that have since been reattached.”

Amputations do not include avulsions, enucleations, deglovings, scalpings, severed ears, or broken or chipped teeth.

Vehicle Accident Rules

Fatalities and injuries arising from vehicle accidents create additional wrinkles in the general OSHA reporting rule:

  • If a fatality, hospitalization, amputation or eye loss is caused by a vehicle accident in a construction work zone, the event must be reported to OSHA in accordance with the general eight-hour/24-hour rule.
  • If the fatality, hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss is caused by a vehicle accident on a public street or highway, it is NOT reportable to OSHA, but the employer must record the fatality or injury in its OSHA records (if the employer is required to maintain such records).

Public Transportation Exception

If a work-related fatality, hospitalization, amputation or eye loss occurs as a result of an incident or accident on a commercial or public transportation system (airplane, train, subway, or bus), the employer is NOT required to report it to OSHA.

The employer must, however, record the fatality or injury in its OSHA records (if the employer is otherwise required to maintain OSHA records).


For more information about the OSHA practice of Pappas Grubbs Price, visit our website, or contact Steven Grubbs, Amanda Flanagan, Joe Garnett, or Alma Aguirre to discuss your matter.