On February 12, 2020, Kentucky’s Labor Cabinet’s Department of Workplace Standards has proposed an amendment to its regulation on employer’s obligations to report workplace injury and illnesses. Currently, employers in Kentucky must report all “work-related” incidents involving the loss of an eye, hospitalization of fewer than 3 employees, or amputation within 72 hours of the incident. Employers must also report all “work-related” incidents leading to death of an employee or the hospitalization of three or more employees. The proposed amended regulation would affect three major aspects of the injury reporting rule: 1) the work-related element of the reporting requirement; 2) the types of medical treatment that will constitute hospitalization; and 3) the time frame for reporting amputations and the loss of an eye.
The first change proposed is the elimination of the work-relatedness requirement for reporting injuries. Under current Kentucky law, workplace injuries and illnesses need not be reported unless they are work-related. There is a presumption that an injury and illnesses sustained at work are indeed work-related. But that presumption may be rebutted by the employers.
The proposed amendment to Kentucky’s reporting regulations would upend this framework. Instead of there being a rebuttable presumption that injuries or illnesses sustained at work are work-related, the proposed regulation would eliminate the requirement of work-relatedness in Kentucky. If the proposed amendment is approved, employers would need to report each “eye loss, hospitalization, amputation, and/or death that “occurs in the work environment, or is caused or contributed to by an event in the work environment” to Kentucky OSHA, even if not work-related. While this amendment would make it easier for employers to determine whether to report an injury or illness, it could also lead to Kentucky OSHA collecting data that does not necessarily reflect how safe a worksite actually is.
Second, the Department of Workplace Standards has proposed an expansion the definition of a reportable hospitalization. The current rule requires employers to report “in-patient hospitalizations” and hospitalizations involving only observation or diagnostic testing need not be reported. The proposed amendment would require all formal admissions to be reported even if the admission were only for observation or diagnostic testing.
Finally, the proposed amendment would address a time limitation for reporting of an eye loss, amputation, hospitalization, or death occurs that more than 72 hours (or 8 hours in death or mass hospitalization) after a workplace incident. Presently, employers need not report loses of an eye, amputations, or hospitalizations of fewer than 2 employees if not occurring within 72 hours of the workplace incident. So, for example, an employer would not have to report an employee receiving a medical amputation two weeks after sustaining a workplace injury. However, the amendments would do away with the 72-hour threshold and employers would have to report all amputation and eye loss injuries no matter how long they occur after the workplace incident.
The Labor Cabinet is holding a public hearing on these proposed amendments on April 23, 2020. If these amendments to come into effect, employers in Kentucky will need to become educated on the revised requirements and likely update their processes and procedures for injury and illness reporting.