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OSHA proposal could see employers publicly report work accidents

As many New York residents are aware, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration serves a variety of very important functions in this country. Of the utmost concern to many workers out there, OSHA is the organization that makes sure that every workplace is in proper order, in terms of protocols, cleanliness and employee safety (among other things).

OSHA also is in charge of investigating workplace accidents when they do occur. When workers are injured or a major breach in safety is found in a workplace, OSHA will send out investigators to compose a full report on the workplace and its condition. If any violations are found, OSHA will cite the company. The resulting punishment depends on a number of factors, but usually it is either a warning or fine.

Serious violations though (some that may have been known, and were willfully ignored by employers) can also be uncovered by OSHA. In these cases, the injured workers could use the evidence uncovered by OSHA to substantiate their claims in a civil lawsuit, or to back up their application for workers' compensation.

Even though OSHA is supposed to regulate every workplace, there are some considerable logistical constraints on that objective. With roughly 2,400 inspectors on file, it would take OSHA approximately 100 years to visit every workplace once.

So what does OSHA plan to do about that? Well, they are proposing a new rule that could require employers to publicly report injuries and illnesses that occur no their premises. Businesses are against the change, saying the information could be inappropriately used, or that it could give a false impression of what workplaces are like.

Source: Associated Press, "OSHA plans to make workplace safety reports public," Sam Hananel, Nov. 7, 2013

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