The Occupational Safety and Health Administration introduced strict new reporting rules in January 2015, but a recent report from the Department of Labor suggests that as many as half of the workplace deaths and serious injuries in Kentucky and around the country go unreported. The report was based on an audit from the DOL’s Office of Inspector General that was conducted to determine the effectiveness of the new OSHA reporting standards and gauge employer compliance.
Experts say that employers may avoid reporting serious injuries or deaths to OSHA because they are worried about the increased scrutiny that a workplace accident could bring. They also point out that the $5,000 fine assessed for failing to report these incidents does not provide much of a deterrent to companies that would like to avoid an inspection. The OIG audit concluded that the current state of affairs provides OSHA with incomplete data and does not do enough to protect American workers.
Establishing corporate cultures and nurturing workplace environments that are focused on safety may be the most effective way to improve reporting and prevent on-the-job accidents. Controls should be put into place that address operational shortcomings rather than employee behavior, and detailed records should be kept and regular inspections conducted to monitor the effectiveness of safety programs.
People who are injured while on the job are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if they were acting negligently when they were hurt, but the application process can be daunting to those unfamiliar with bureaucratic paperwork and procedures. Attorneys with experience in this area could help to ensure that the claims are filed on a timely basis and contain all required documentation.