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Employers must report serious workplace incidents

Serious workplace injuries typically indicate that there is some hazard that the employer needs to address, so more employees will not be at risk of an accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the California Department of Industrial Relations require a report of these work-related injuries so they can monitor whether the employer has addressed the safety hazard.

To make sure there is no question about the word “serious” that allows employers to avoid reporting the injury, Cal/OSHA provides a legal definition.

Serious injuries and illnesses

An amputation or the loss of an eye is serious, as is permanent disfigurement. If an employee requires hospitalization for any amount of time, and it is not simply for diagnostic testing or medical observation, the injury or illness is serious.

The statute also includes severe or fatal accidents that happen on a road construction zone on a highway or a public street. Another change in the law is that employers must even report a serious illness, injury or fatality if the employee was doing something illegal at the time.

Serious exposure

The law considers an exposure serious when an employee encounters a hazardous substance in an amount or degree to make it likely that death or future serious harm could happen because of the exposure. It could be a single incident or accident, an emergency or an exposure to a substance over time.

When serious workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities occur, workers’ compensation covers the medical costs and a portion of the lost wages. A workers’ family may receive death benefits if he or she dies as a result of the injury, illness or exposure.

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