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How are employers responding to OSHA's new reporting requirements?

Most people might not realize it, but their employers are now subject to rather stringent reporting requirements concerning serious workplace injuries. Specifically, employers in all sectors -- from construction to retail -- must now report any and all work injuries resulting in hospitalization, eye loss and/or amputation to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration within 24 hours of the underlying accident.

While this rule only took effect on January 1, 2015, the data gathered during its first year of implementation has already revealed some rather eye-opening trends concerning the frequency of serious work injuries, the sectors in which employees are more at risk and even the degree to which some employers will go to shirk their new reporting responsibilities.

Regarding the frequency of serious work injuries and the sectors in which workers are perhaps more at risk, an OSHA report determined the following:

  • Roughly 10,000 reports of serious work injuries were made during 2015, including 7,600-plus hospitalizations and 2,600-plus amputations.
  • The two sectors that saw the most reports of serious work injuries were manufacturing (first) and construction (second).

As fascinating as these figures are, the same report indicates that OSHA has actually concluded based on its independent examination of reports from state work comp agencies that perhaps as many as 50 percent of qualifying work injuries went unreported in 2015.

While agency officials attribute much of this to small - and medium-sized business owners simply being ignorant of the new reporting requirements, OSHA inspectors did uncover evidence of some employers resorting to nefarious tactics to avoid their reporting requirements, a decidedly risky strategy given the potentially massive fines if discovered.

By way of example, the report details an incident in which a manufacturer actually attempted to conceal a whole production line with exposed parts behind closed doors and parked forklifts after a worker was reported by a staffing agency to have lost a finger.

While this is an extreme example, it does serve to highlight the more general problem of how many employers will attempt to downplay workplace injuries or even encourage workers not to file a claim.

If you have been injured on the job and find yourself in such a scenario, please don't hesitate to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights and your options.   

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