Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) changed the reporting requirements for severe work-related injuries in order to better obtain data on workers who get hurt on-the-job. The new standards went into effect on January 1, 2015. Now, OSHA has published a comprehensive report illustrating some of the impact of the new reporting requirements. OSHA indicates the new standard has made a big difference and OSHA has received many more injury reports. This does not necessarily mean overall injury rates are up significantly, but it does mean that employers are alerting the agency in more situations.
Accurate reporting of work injuries is essential so OSHA can take action to help employers identify and eliminate workplace safety hazards which may be exacerbating the risk of on-the-job injuries. An injury can be life-threatening or life-ending and prevention is always better than trying to cope with the aftermath of injuries.
If an injury does occur, however, workers need to know what their rights are. An Atlanta work accident lawyer can provide assistance in securing workers’ comp benefits to anyone hurt on-the-job, regardless of whether OSHA standards were followed or not.
Are More Atlanta Workplace Injuries Being Reported?
OSHA’s report did not break down the increase in injury reports by state, but the report did indicate OSHA is getting much more timely reports of injuries and that injury reports overall have gone up.
The new reporting requirements mandate employers alert OSHA within 24 hours if a severe workplace injury occurs. A severe injury is defined to be an injury in which a worker loses an eye, an amputation occurs, or inpatient hospitalization is necessary to treat the worker for the injury. Workplace deaths, on the other hand, must be reported within eight hours of the time the employee dies as a result of a work incident.
Over the course of the first year, since the reporting requirement went into effect on January 1, 2015, OSHA received 10,388 reports from employers, including more than 7,600 cases in which workers had to be hospitalized.
Until last year, OSHA lacked the timely information about these hospitalizations and injuries that it needed to take action. Now, this is no longer the case. Faster reporting has allowed OSHA to identify patterns in workplace injuries, such as when compliance officials had a difficult time keeping up with the large volume of reports from a food processing plant within a Georgia facility. The single food processing plant had a worker loss a finger, a worker lose a hand, and a third worker face hospitalization for cuts and burns- all within six weeks.
When OSHA learns of injuries faster, it can determine when a Rapid Response Investigation should be conducted. In most cases, OSHA was able to work with the employers after an injury was reported to mitigate hazards rather than sending in inspectors. Sometimes, however, the prompt reporting did make it possible for an investigation to occur quickly and an employer to be forced to make immediate changes to protect the health of workers.
The fact that reporting requirements may be making a difference in improving worksite safety quickly is good news for employees. Unfortunately, the sad fact is injuries can and do still happen- and workers need to know their rights if an injury happens to them.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.