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OSHA issues new directive on communicating with victims' families

April 18, 2012
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griefA new OSHA directive specifies how, after an occupational fatality, agency representatives should keep victims' families informed about the investigation into their loved ones' deaths.

The guide in communicating investigation procedures with family members ensures that OSHA representatives speak to the victim's family early in the inspection process, establish a point of contact, and maintain a working relationship with the family.

"OSHA is committed to working with families to explain the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels. "This directive ensures that OSHA receives the necessary information from the family to assist in the investigation, and keeps the family informed throughout the investigation and settlement processes."

Under the new directive, OSHA representatives will contact the victim's family to explain the investigation process, timeline, and provide the family with updates throughout the investigation. Once the investigation is closed, OSHA will explain findings to the family and address any questions. If an employer has been issued citations, OSHA will provide a copy of the citation(s) to the family.

Employers must notify OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality, including fatal heart attacks that occur at work. These reports may be made by telephone or in person to the nearest area office or by calling OSHA's toll-free number, 1-800-321-OSHA [6742].

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