Reporting Serious Workers’ Compensation Injuries

Author, Jim Malone, Workers’ CompensationClaims Advocate, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.

Man sitting at a laptop with an Accident Report on the screen.

Workers’ Compensation injuries occur every day. The majority of these injuries are minor incidents which require no medical treatment or loss of time from work. For others, the injury is reported to the insurance carrier, the injury is addressed, forms are provided, and the recovery from the injury is monitored until the employee is released back to work and a discharge from care is provided.

However, serious injuries, illnesses or even deaths occasionally occur at work because of a work related accident. These incidents usually require 911 calls, hospitalizations, emergency surgeries, family contact, and a longer road to recovery. They may also require immediate (within 8-24 hours) reporting to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA), if they meet the criterion that has been established.

As defined in the California Code of Regulations Title 8 §330(h), serious injury or illness means any injury or illness occurring in a place of employment, or in connection with any employment that:

  1. Requires inpatient hospitalization for a period in excess of 24 hours for other than medical observation.

  2. Results in a loss of any member of the body.

  3. Results in a serious degree of permanent disfigurement.

  4. Results in the death of the employee.

Does not include any injury, illness, or death caused by the commission of a Penal Code violation, except the violation of Section 385 of the Penal Code, or an accident on a public street or highway.

The California Code of Regulations Title 8 §342(a) states, “every employer shall report immediately by telephone or telegraph to the nearest District Office of the Division of Occupational Safety & Health any serious injury or illness, or death, of an employee occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment. Immediate means as soon as practically possible but not longer than 8 hours after the employer knows or with diligent inquiry would have known of the serious injury or illness. If the employer can demonstrate that exigent circumstances exist, the time frame for the report may be made no longer than 24 hours after the incident.”

The 8-24 hour time frame begins when the employer knows, or “with diligent inquiry” would have known of the serious injury, illness, or death. The “employer” means someone in a management or supervisory capacity.

As with any injury or accident, it can be a difficult and confusing time for all those involved and affected. It may seem like many things need to be done all at once. That is, of course, impossible. So, prepare yourself now. Make a list of your responsibilities and important contact numbers before a serious injury or accident occurs.

The order in which you perform each of these responsibilities may differ, according to the type of injury or accident that occurs. However, you will still have your checklist and contact numbers ready to use to ensure you do not forget any particular step or obligation. This emergency list of telephone numbers may be your broker, safety/loss control specialist, claims administrator, or workers’ compensation claims advocate. We are all available to provide you with any assistance you may need.

For those in California, the Cal/OSHA District Office contact list is below. Ask for the officer of the day.

Concord (925) 602-6517
Oakland (510) 622-2916
San Francisco (415) 972-8670

Cal/OSHA Link:

For additional information, please contact Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 937-0164.