Fines Increase for Not Reporting Accidents to Cal/OSHA

Any employer who fails to report a fatal injury or the serious injury or illness of an employee to Cal/OSHA within eight hours of its occurrence now faces a minimum penalty of $5,000, 10 times the previous penalty.

Provisions of Assembly Bill (AB) 2837, which include the substantial increase in penalties for employers who don't report took effect Jan. 1, 2003 and are being implemented by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).

Vicky Heza, Cal/OSHA's chief of enforcement, said approximately 550 citations are issued each year to employers for failure to report accidents. "This new law is designed to dramatically reduce this number and bring about a greater lever of compliance," she noted.

A serious injury or illness is defined as amputation of a member of the body, disfigurement, or in-patient hospitalization for more than 24 hours for other than observation.

Employers must report the name and location of the injured person, the nature of the injury or illness, a description of the accident including its time and date, the employer's name, address and telephone number and other relevant information to the nearest Cal/OSHA office by phone or fax within eight hours.

"We need to investigate all serious accidents and fatalities to ensure employers are maintaining safe work sites," said Heza. "That's why reporting them is so important."

AB 2837 also provides that an employer, officer, management official or supervisor who knowingly fails to report a death to Cal/OSHA or knowingly induces another to do so is guilty of a misdemeanor and will face a penalty of up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $15,000 or both. If the violator is a corporation or a limited liability company, the fine could be up to $150,000.

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