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OIG: lack of data led to OSHA underreporting injuries and deaths

The Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General has called out OSHA for underreporting workplace injuries and fatalities. The safety organization revised its rule on how employers are to report serious work-related illnesses and injuries as well as deaths. However, it appears that a lack of data has led to the inability to enforce those rules. Employers in Connecticut will want to know more.

The OIG found that employers reported 4,185 fatalities and 23,282 severe injuries from January 2015 (when the OSHA rule revisions went into effect) to April 2017. Yet according to a former OSHA assistant secretary of labor, employers may have failed to report 50 percent or more cases of severe injuries.

The investigation also showed that OSHA has limited assurance that employers ever abate the hazards that contribute to incidents. The OIG recommends that OSHA have clearer guidelines on how to gather evidence of hazard abatement. In addition, OSHA cannot effectively deter late reporting because it is inconsistent in the issuing of citations.

OSHA has said that it could enhance case file documentation to have the essential decisions made by employers and clarify requirements regarding the monitoring of employer-conducted investigations. However, OSHA states that an employer's only legal obligation is to report an incident, not investigate it and submit proof of hazard abatement.

An injured employe who wishes to file a workers' compensation claim will first need to report the accident to their employer. Workers' comp benefits could cover medical expenses, short- or long-term disability leave and a percentage of the wages lost during the physical recovery. Since a claim could be denied, the victim may want a lawyer by their side to ensure a smooth filing process.

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