You’ve seen OSHA posters in the break room at work, and know OSHA has something to do with safety. But what is OSHA, and what does it have to with workers’ compensation claims?
What is OSHA?
OSHA (pronounced oh-shah) is the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a part of the United State Department of Labor, and has offices around the country. It creates and enforces rules for worker safety, and has training and education to help businesses follow those rules.
OSHA rules apply to most private sector (non-government)organizations and employees, plus some public sector (government) organizations and employees in the United States.
Virginia has its own version of the federal OSHA: the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) Program, part of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. VOSH applies to private sector(non-government) organizations and employees with a few specific exceptions, as well as to state and local government workers within Virginia. It does not apply to federal government workers.
Most of the VOSH rules are the same as the OSHA rules, but VOSH does have some more specific rules for certain industries.
How does OSHA relate to workers’ compensation cases?
If someone dies or is very severely injured due to an injury at work, OSHA and VOSH are alerted. If an employee dies, the company must tell both organizations within eight (8) hours. If an employee requires in-patient hospitalization, has a limb amputated, or loses an eye, the company must tell both organizations within twenty-four (24) hours. In-patient hospitalization means that someone is admitted to stay in the hospital; just visiting the emergency room and then leaving does not count.
The death, hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss does not have to happen immediately at work in order to be reported to OSHA and VOSH. If the death happens within thirty (30) days of a work-related accident, the death must still be reported. If the hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss happens within twenty-four (24) hours of a work-related accident, the event must still be reported.
OSHA and VOSH will investigate the death or injury and see what the cause was.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission will be doing its own investigation for the workers’ compensation case, just as it does for claims. OSHA and VOSH will tell the Commission what they find, but the Commissioners do not have to follow those results when they make a ruling.
If you are involved in an accident at work, you may receive contact from OSHA and/or VOSH as well as the Commission as they all investigate the accident. OSHA and VOSH may ask you similar questions as the Commission as they all investigate for their separate reports. You will need to truthfully answer anything that OSHA and/or VOSH ask.