OSHA reporting: Who, what, when and how?


OSHA requires all employers in its jurisdiction to immediately report severe work-related injuries or deaths. Beyond that, certain categories of employers must keep detailed records of serious work-related injuries and illnesses throughout the year and submit a report to OSHA by March 2 of the following year. Many states operate their own occupational safety and health programs for private-sector and/or state and local government workers, and their reporting requirements may vary. But in broad strokes, here’s what’s required of employers covered by the federal OSHA program.  

Reporting of serious injury or death

All employers, regardless of industry or size, must report a fatality or severe injury right away. When an employee is killed on the job, it must be reported within eight hours, while a severe injury – which includes amputation, loss of an eye or an injury requiring in-patient hospitalization – must be reported within 24 hours. Employers can make the report by calling their local OSHA office or OSHA’s 24-hour hotline at (800) 321-6742. There is also an online reporting option on OSHA’s website. Just leaving a voice mail message or sending an email is not acceptable. Employers do not have to report the death or serious injury if it resulted from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway (except in a construction work zone), or if it occurred on a commercial or public transportation system. Also, hospitalizations need not be reported if they are for diagnostic testing or observation only. Also, note that if a fatality occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident, or if an in-patient hospitalization, amputation or eye loss occurs within 24 hours of the work-related incident, these events must be reported to OSHA.

Routine recordkeeping and annual reporting

Companies with more than 10 employees in certain high-risk industries must keep detailed records of all but minor injuries and illnesses throughout the year. Generally speaking, employers in construction, farming, utilities, maritime, manufacturing and many types of employers within the transportation, healthcare and recreation sectors are required to comply with this requirement. OSHA lists the industries that are exempt from routine reporting on its website ( Non-exempt employers must fill out forms 300, 300A and 301, all of which are available on the OSHA website. Further, employers with 20 or more employees that are subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping regulations must electronically submit information from Form 300A, which is a summary of work-related injuries and illnesses, by March 2 of the following year. OSHA recently eliminated the requirement to submit information from Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report), but all forms must be kept for five years. Also, at the end of each year, employers must post the summary (Form 300A) in a visible location so that employees are aware of the injuries and illnesses that have occurred throughout the year at the workplace. Employers with multiple sites should keep a separate log and summary for each location.

How OSHA defines recordable injuries and illnesses

OSHA offers guidelines about how to determine if an injury is serious enough to be recorded. Obviously all work-related fatalities make the grade, as do any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job. Work-related diagnoses of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums must be reported, as do work-related injuries or illnesses that require more than first aid treatment. First aid treatments include but are not limited to non-prescription medications, cleaning and bandaging wounds, applying hot and cold therapies and soft wraps. For instance, if someone twists an ankle and the injury is alleviated by a couple of Motrins, an ice pack and/or an Ace bandage, there’s no need to record it. Note that OSHA has specific requirements for recording injuries from needlesticks and other sharp objects, as well as hearing loss, tuberculosis, and the removal of a worker for medical reasons. 

What about COVID-19? 

For covered employers, COVID-19 is a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing his or her work-related duties. It can be difficult and in some cases impossible to determine how someone came down with the virus, but according to OSHA, employers should take into account all reasonably available evidence. For instance, it’s likely to be work-related if several employees who work closely together all develop COVID-19 or if a worker contracts the virus shortly after a prolonged exposed to an infected customer and if there is no alternative explanation. However, if a worker gets COVID-19 and no one else in the workplace has it, and that worker does not come into frequent contact with the public as part of his or her job duties, it’s probably not work-related. 

If you need assistance with an OSHA matter, give us a call. At Pappas Grubbs Price, we have 20 years of extensive experience in a wide range of OSHA matters, from compliance counseling and assessment to representing clients in investigations.