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Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents
• Record Type: Reporting of Fatality or Multiple Hospitalization Incidents
• Section: 1
• Title: Section 1 - I. Background

I. Background

The requirements in 29 CFR 1904.8, Reporting of fatality or multiple hospitalization accidents - often referred to as FATCAT (fatality/catastrophe) reports - have remained essentially unchanged since they were initially adopted in 1971. The present requirements read as follows:

Within 48 hours after the occurrence of an employment accident which is fatal to one or more employees or which results in hospitalization of five or more employees, the employer of any employees so injured or killed shall report the accident either orally or in writing to the nearest office of the Area Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. The reporting may be by telephone or telegraph. The report shall relate the circumstances of the accident, the number of fatalities, and the extent of any injuries. The Area Director may require such additional reports, in writing or otherwise, as he deems necessary, concerning the accident.

OSHA, or States operating OSHA-approved State plans, investigate such incidents in order to provide the Agency with information on the causes of employment fatalities, injuries and illnesses to identify and require correction of serious hazards and to prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future. Such information can also be a source of support for new and revised safety and health standards. Investigators will determine whether there was a violation of OSHA standards, and, if so, whether the violation may have contributed to the incident. In addition, the Agency determines whether OSHA standards adequately cover the hazards which led to the incident. Therefore, such investigations must be prompt and thorough if they are to provide valid, useful information and achieve their intended purposes.

For many years, OSHA has considered whether changes are needed in 1904.8 to enable the Agency to conduct more effective workplace investigations. In October, 1979, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (44 FR 59560) that contained several suggested changes to the current requirements of 1904.8. The reporting changes included in the proposal were the following: A reduction in reporting time from 48 hours to 8 hours; the establishment of a OSHA toll-free phone number, to be used in reporting incidents which occur on evenings and weekends; and a requirement for employers to report fatalities which occur within 6 months of an employment incident. A 30-day written comment period was established, which was later extended to December 17, 1979. OSHA received 258 written comments during the comment period. During the review of the comments OSHA's priorities changed and work on the final rule was suspended indefinitely. Consequently no final rule was issued as a result of the 1979 rulemaking action.

Since that proposal was published, OSHA has determined that there are many other provisions in part 1904, Reporting and Recording Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, which should be considered for amendment or revision, in order to improve the quality of the data provided to the Agency and enhance OSHA's ability to gather useful information on the causes of employment injuries and illnesses. Accordingly, the Agency has decided to undertake a complete revision of part 1904, to be accomplished in two steps: The first step involves changes in 1904.8, dealing only with reporting of fatalities and multiple hospitalizations. The second step will involve the issuance of a proposal covering the remainder of part 1904. Separating the 1904.8 proposal from the overall revision of part 1904 enables OSHA to make the necessary changes in 1904.8 as soon as possible.

Because so much time had elapsed since the previous proposal was published, the Agency was concerned that the record was outdated, and more timely information was needed. Accordingly, OSHA withdrew the 1979 proposed rule in favor of the recent proposal for this final rule published in the Federal Register on May 19, 1992 (57 FR 21222). Most of the elements of the 1979 proposed rule were carried forward in the recent proposal. OSHA received a total of 110 written comments in response to the 1992 proposal and has subsequently drafted this final rule.

[59 FR 15594, April 1, 1994; 59 FR 16895, April 8, 1994]

Regulations (Preambles to Final Rules) - Table of Contents

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