Employers in Boston and throughout the U.S. are legally required to make a report to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after certain types of workplace accidents and injuries. According to OSHA’s website, the agency recently changed its reporting requirements, and the new rules will be effective January 2015. The new rules will require reporting under more circumstances so OSHA is more readily alerted when there is a problem.
Unfortunately, a Boston workers’ compensation lawyer knows not all employers follow even the current OSHA regulations. It is common for employers to fail to keep accurate records of workplace illnesses and injuries as required. This can make it harder for employers and for OSHA to know when there is a problem and to solve the workplace safety issue to protect people on-the-job.
Companies Need to Improve OSHA Record Keeping
Under the revised OSHA reporting rules, employers must alert OSHA within eight hours of any workplace incident that results in the death of an employee. Further, employers must notify OSHA if one or more workers is hospitalized because of a workplace incident. The employer will need to make this report within 24 hours of the event causing injury or illness.
There is currently no requirement under existing law for a report to be made unless at least three employees are hospitalized, so this is a significant change. Another big change is employers will now need to notify OSHA within 24 hours of a limb amputation or eye loss at work. Currently, there is no reporting requirement when these types of injuries happen.
The new rules could help to ensure OSHA is better able to identify injury-causing violations. OSHA is supposed to identify and investigate problems before a worker gets hurt, but the agency is understaffed and this frequently does not happen. This kind of accident notification can serve as a trigger to get OSHA to come to a particular work site and force the employer to follow safety requirements.
A recent study conducted by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries revealed there are many situations in which employers are failing to live up to the record-keeping rules already in place for tracking work injuries.
Out of 110 companies included in the study, 97 kept some kind of OSHA record of injuries and illnesses as required. Most employers, however, did not keep the records correctly as mandated. Common mistakes included not reporting temporary worker illnesses and injuries and not correctly classifying injuries based on whether they necessitated days away from work or job transfers and restrictions.
Employers need to learn about the OSHA rules applicable to them, including new regulations. They must ensure they are actually in compliance with all reporting and record-keeping rules. Only by acknowledging and tracking top causes of work injury can significant improvements in workplace safety be achieved.
If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
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