Employers have a responsibility to keep their workers safe, whether the workplace is a construction zone or a cozy corner office. When workers get hurt on the job, it’s important that the injury is reported so the employer and authorities can take steps to make sure the injury doesn’t happen again.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is taking new measures to hold employers accountable for reporting workplace accidents quickly and accurately.
Beginning in January, employers will have to report injuries – such as an amputation, loss of an eye or other injuries requiring a stay in the hospital – to the federal government within 24 hours. Right now, employers have to report to the government only those accidents that cause three or more hospitalizations.
The injury reports will be made public on OSHA’s website. The site already provides data on worker fatalities, which have to be reported to the government within eight hours, and “work-related catastrophes” that result in three or more hospitalizations.
‘Nudging’ Employers to Make Jobsites Safer
In a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek, David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor and leader of OSHA, said the new rule is meant to make sure employers provide a safe work environment.
“We believe that the possibility of public reporting of serious injuries will encourage – or, in the behavioral economics term, nudge – employers to take steps to prevent injuries so they’re not seen as unsafe places to work,” Michaels said in the article. “After all, if you had a choice of applying for a job at a place where a worker had just lost a hand, versus one where no amputation has occurred, which would you choose?”
Cuts Reduce OSHA Inspections
In the same article, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said the new rule will also help OSHA focus its resources while still holding employers accountable.
Even though the number of employers keeps increasing, the number of OSHA health and safety inspectors has been reduced in an effort to cut costs. With limited resources for inspections, it’s up to employers to ensure safety.
“If you don’t have the agency out there, you can at least have the press or individuals out there watch dogging,” Celeste Monforton told Bloomberg Businessweek. She is a former legislative analyst for OSHA who now serves as an environmental and occupational health lecturer at George Washington University.
“At a minimum, the public deserves to have information that the government collects on how dangerous a particular workplace might be,” Monforton said.
Other federal agencies have also posted similar information online, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration, a sister agency to OSHA.
Although the new reporting system may help make workplaces safer, on-the-job accidents and injuries will continue to happen. If you are injured at your workplace, it’s important to consult with a qualified workplace accident attorney to discuss your options for seeking compensation.