According to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal workplace accidents are more common than they should be. In 2013, a total of 4,405 workers died on the job in the United States. Earlier this month, shortly after the release of that data, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration passed new regulations that aim to crack down on employers who do not adequately document workplace injuries.
Under the previous rule, detailed reports of workplace accidents were required to be filed only if three or more workers died or were injured severely enough to be hospitalized. Under the new rules, details accident reports must be filed within eight hours of a fatal workplace accident, and within 24 hours of accidents involving injuries that only result in hospitalization. The old rule did not require one-time hospitalizations, eye loss or amputation to be reported, but the new rule does. The size of the business is irrelevant to whether such reports are required.
Failure to report workplace accidents needs to be taken seriously, because it can be a sign that an employer has a persistent hazard on their premises or that workers aren’t receiving adequate training, or that the employer doesn’t take worker safety very seriously. While opponents could argue that of more government authority in this area will not necessarily solve the problem, there needs to be some stricter accountability for employers who just don’t take their responsibilities seriously.
Workers who are injured on the job and are in need of compensation, of course, can benefit greatly by working with an experienced attorney in pursuing workers’ compensation, particularly when their employer puts up barriers to their claim.
Source: PBS Newshour, “Feds issue new regulation on reporting fatal work injuries,” Tom Raum, September 11, 2014.