The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released new guidelines for reporting workplace accidents and illnesses. Beginning on August 10, 2016, employers with 250 or more employees in high-hazard industries will be required to submit illness and injury data electronically. The data will be made available to the public via OSHA’s website, which will become the largest public source of data on workplace injuries and illnesses. The new rules also prohibit retaliation against employees who report an injury or illness.
OSHA is hopeful that the new public reporting will encourage employers to take steps to improve workplace safety. Although many employers are required to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses, this data is not shared with OSHA or made available to the public. The new rule will increase accountability for employers who wish to be viewed positively, both by potential customers and by prospective employees. High injury rates often imply management issues, so it is beneficial for employers to maintain safe workplaces and keep injuries and illnesses to a minimum.
Data Can Be Used to Create Safer Workplaces
The electronic reporting will help OSHA identify and allocate resources to workplaces that have a high number of employee injuries or illnesses. The data will be extremely helpful in examining trends in workplace injuries and determining best practices for safety interventions. Employers can also compare their own data to others in their industry to see if improvements need to be made. High-hazard industries that will be affected by the new rule include construction, manufacturing, freight trucking, waste collection, medical facilities, and grocery stores. These employers are already required to collect this data, but will now be required to submit it to OSHA.
The OSHA regulation also requires employers to have a reasonable procedure in place for employees to report injuries. Some workplaces make it difficult to report a workplace injury, which can discourage employees from doing so. In order to maintain accurate records, employees must feel comfortable reporting injuries and illnesses as they occur. Timely reporting is crucial for the employee as well as the employer, as waiting to report an injury can affect eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Approximately 34,000 workplaces with 250 or more employees in high-hazard industries will be required to submit detailed information regarding types of injuries that occurred. An additional 432,000 workplaces with 29 to 249 employees will also be required to submit data, but only the total number of injuries and the total hours worked in the previous year. All confidential information will be removed before the information is posted publicly. Companies will begin submitting data in January 2017. Due to a recent lawsuit filed by business owners that asserts the new rule is too stringent, OSHA has postponed the effective date of the anti-retaliation provision from August 10th to November 1, 2016.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Obtain Compensation for Injured Workers
If you or a loved one suffered from a workplace injury or illness, call the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. Our team will thoroughly review your case and prepare a sound legal strategy to get you the compensation you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, Allentown, and Reading, we help injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a free consultation at www.galfandberger.com.