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Changes to OSHA rules could affect New York workers' compensation

There are many workplace hazards that can cause illnesses, and some of these may carry long-term effects. Illnesses may be known as soon as they occur, though some take a long time to develop. If you have experienced an illness or any side effects from activities on a work site in New York, you may be entitled to workers' compensation to cover time missed from work and medical expenses. However, changes to the way employers report their injury and illness rates may affect your safety and well-being.

A proposed change to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's methods for maintaining its records is under attack by some. Under the new changes, employers would be forced to electronically report their accident and illness cases every three months, and the information would be stored in an online database. This would affect all businesses with at least 250 employees. Some companies would also need to provide a statistical summary of all the accident and illness reports along with information about the number of people employed by the company and the total hours worked within the period.

Detractors say the new procedure could have several unwanted side effects. One of the biggest concerns is that employers would avoid reporting their accidents and illnesses in an effort to keep their public reputation up. In turn, they may discourage their workers from reporting accidents and illnesses or retaliate against those who do. There are also concerns over the privacy of workers, whose case data may be linked to them more easily through the online database.

As a worker, you have rights to protect you in the event of an illness. It is important to always follow through with your employer if you become sick or you are experiencing side effects from any of the work you do. Staying informed with changes to the law and how they affect you and your employer is a vital part of filing for workers' compensation, and it can ensure you receive proper protection.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, "Move to Post Injury, Illness Rates Online Draws Employers' Fire, Unions' Praise," Bruce Rolfsen, March 13, 2014

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