OSHA toughens reporting requirements

Effective January 1, 2015 employers must notify OSHA promptly when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.

Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.

All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA's new severe-injury and illness reporting requirements. To assist employers in fulfilling these requirements, OSHA is developing a web portal for employers to report incidents electronically, in addition to the phone-reporting options.

"Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

OSHA reports nationwide 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. According to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, there were a total of 72 occupational deaths in South Carolina in 2013. Most of the deaths were attributed to transportation incidents (27), violence (14), and falls, slips, trips (13). LLR administers the state's OSHA program.

Business Insurance notes workplace fatalities in the U.S. peaked in 1994, when there were 6,632 deaths. Transportation accidents have been the number one cause of workplace deaths for at least 10 years, accounting for two in five deaths in 2013.

Separately, OSHA released its list of the ten most-frequently cited safety violations for fiscal 2014. The list below shows the number of citations:

  1. 1. Fall protection (1926.501) - 6,143
  2. 2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) - 5,161
  3. 3. Scaffolding (1926.451) - 4,029
  4. 4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) - 3,223
  5. 5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) - 2,704
  6. 6. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) - 2,662
  7. 7. Electrical - Wiring Methods (1910.305) - 2,490
  8. 8. Ladders (1926.1053) - 2,448
  9. 9. Machine Guarding (1910.212) - 2,200
  10. 10. Electrical - General Requirements (1910.303) - 2,056




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DEA reclassifies hydrocodone

The U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration has moved hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to the more-restrictive Schedule II because of widespread concerns about hydrocodone's abuse and potential for abuse.

The new regulation became effective October 5. Physicians can no longer call in prescriptions for drugs like Lortab and Vicodin, and patients are allowed only one 90-day prescription per doctor visit. Additionally, patients have to see a physician before they can obtain a refill.

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart noted more Americans die from controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers, than die from auto accidents. The sale of opioids has increased 300% since 1999. The agency says its analysis of hydrocodone combination products shows adding nonnarcotic substances, like acetaminophen, to hydrocodone does not diminish its potential for abuse

The drug enforcement agency also reports multiple federal and non-federal agencies have found twice as many high school seniors use Vicodin®, which contains hydrocodone, than used OxyContin®, a Schedule II substance, which is more tightly controlled. Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States with nearly 137 million prescriptions dispensed in 2013. There are several hundred brand name and generic hydrocodone products on the market.

Opioid overdose rate is highest among people of working age, and workers' compensation insurers and risk managers are among those most vocal about the hazards of opioid drugs. Observers note abuse is a problem in workers' compensation because back injuries are common and back pain is one of the most common reasons for prescribing opioids.

In a position paper released in early October, titled Evidence for the efficacy of pain medications, the National Safety Council concludes "the combination of over-the-counter pain medications ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more effective at treating acute pain than opioid painkillers. As patients find that they are unable to refill their hydrocodone prescription, this paper presents alternatives that should be discussed with their physician."

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