Cal/OSHA’s regulations for reporting serious injuries and illnesses are changing, effective January 1, 2020, as two new laws take effect. Assembly Bill 1805 addresses the definition of a serious injury and Assembly Bill 1804 calls for a new reporting method for these injuries. Both were signed into law by Governor Newsom at the end of the 2019 legislative session.

Cal/OSHA requires employers to report fatalities, serious injuries, and serious illness to the nearest Cal/OSHA district office immediately. Immediately is defined as “as soon as practically possible” but no later than eight hours after learning of the event. Failure to follow these rules results in a citation with a $5,000 penalty. And, this injury reporting standard is among the standards most frequently cited for violation by Cal/OSHA.

Assembly Bill 1805 – definition of serious injury

AB 1805 expands the number and type of workplace injuries that employers must report to Cal/OSHA. A serious injury or illness is defined as occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment, and resulting in inpatient hospitalization for reasons other than medical observation or diagnostic testing. The definition also includes employees who suffer an amputation, loss of an eye, or any serious degree of permanent disfigurement. Under the previous law, hospitalizations only had to be reported to Cal/OSHA when they exceeded 24 hours.

The law also contains exemptions for some special circumstances, but AB 1805 modifies those exemptions. For example, serious injuries sustained by workers in a construction zone on a public highway or street must now be reported.

Assembly Bill 1804 – new reporting method

Under AB 1804 employers must report a death, serious injury, or serious illness to Cal/OSHA by phone or through an online reporting system that Cal/OSHA still needs to develop. For now, you can submit your reports by phone and email, but the email option will be eliminated once the online system is up and running. Faxed reports are no longer be allowed as of January 1.

To avoid potential Cal/OSHA citations, ensure that all employees know how to report work-related accidents to management in a timely manner. Your managers, meanwhile, must know how and when to contact Cal/OSHA, so be sure to train them on the new rules as soon as possible. Fatality, serious injury, and serious illness reports must come from the employer of the injured worker, and not a third party such as an insurance carrier.

You’re not the only one required to file a report

In addition to your requirements under the Cal/OSHA standard, remember that any state, county, or local fire or police who respond to a serious workplace accident must also make a report. In fact, this is how Cal/OSHA often learns about serious workplace accidents.

Reporting can and must be done any time of day or day of the week. If an injury happens on a Friday, don’t wait until Monday to make the report. Doing so results in a citation and penalty for late reporting. If you’re not sure whether an injured worker was admitted to the hospital, it’s best to make a preliminary report, and update Cal/OSHA when more information is available.

For more information on death or serious injury reporting and to find your nearest Cal/OSHA enforcement office, visit Cal/OSHA’s Report a Work-Related Accident page.

The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.