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New OSHA Rule to better track and prevent injuries at work

injured worker in construction accidentInjury data collection is getting modernized at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A new rule was recently released in regard to workplace injury tracking. Effective January 1st 2017, the new rule requires some employers including those in high risk industries such as the construction industry to submit electronic records of injuries and illnesses.

For decades OSHA has been recording data related to injury and illness on the job.  Employers are required to record onsite injury and illnesses in specific forms often called the “OSHA Log”. The recording of injury and illness is an invaluable tool in detecting serious hazards on the work place and finding solutions to prevent them.

The new rule requiring electronic filing allow for a faster and more transparent reporting of injuries. Data will be released in standard open format. OSHA strongly believes that public disclosure will help “nudge” employers to focus on safety.  Additionally researchers will be able to use this data to find new ways to improve workplace safety.

The new rule also prohibits employers from discouraging employees to report injury and illness. Widespread intimidation and harassment when reporting injuries are all too common in workplaces. Employers with high rates of injuries are more likely to be visited by OSHA inspectors. A high rate of injuries will also increase their workers compensation premiums and decrease their chances of getting governmental contracts or bonuses. The new rule requires employers to inform employees of their right  to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation. OSHA released free workplace posters that employers can use for this purpose. The procedure to report injury and illness has to be friendly and not discourage employees from reporting their injury or illness. Employers are forbidden to retaliate against an employee who reports an injury or an illness.

Read more on the OSHA website

Picture: courtesy of Wikipedia