On September 11, 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule that updates several provisions of its standards regarding recordkeeping and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses (i.e., 29 C.F.R. 1904).

First, the final rule revises the current requirements of 29 C.F.R. 2904.39 for employers to report work-related fatality, injury and illness information to OSHA. Effective January 1, 2015, all employers must report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, as well as amputations and losses of an eye – even if it is only one employee -- within 24 hours of the event. This rule adds to the existing requirement that employers report work-related fatalities to OSHA within eight hours of the event. However, it amends the earlier requirement that only in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees must be reported. Such reports may be made by: 1) telephone to the OSHA toll-free number (1-800-321-OSHA) or to the OSHA area office closest to the site of the incident; or 2) by electronic submission, using the application located on OSHA's website at www.osha.gov.

Second, the new rule updates the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt -- pursuant to 29 C.F.R. 1904.2 -- from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. This updated list reflects OSHA’s adoption of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), in place of the prior Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. This change, which also takes effect on January 1, 2015, will replace the list of partially-exempt industry groups in SIC 52-89 (which was based on 1996-1998 injury/illness data) with a list of partially-exempt industry groups in NAICS 44-81 (which is based on more recent 2007-2009 injury/illness data).

Employers should note, however, that the new rule still exempts employers with ten or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the general requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses. Yet, all employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, including employers who are partially exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA’s reporting requirements at 29 CFR 1904.39.