Posted On: November 24, 2009 by Steven J. Malman

GAO Says OSHA Cannot Verify All Work Injury and Illness Reports

According to the General Accounting Office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can’t accurately verify all illness and injury cases requiring time off work that have been reported by employers. While OSHA audits illness and injury records of some 250 out of about 130,000 worksites, OSHA cannot verify all of the injury reports’ details.

The GAO says this is because OSHA doesn’t gather all of the information it can get about work illnesses and injuries from workers. The GAO discusses these concerns in its report Enhancing OSHA’s Records Audit Process Could Improve the Accuracy of Worker Injury and Illness Data.

While OSHA isn’t obligated by regulation or law to verify data during records audits, the GAO says asking workers about their work injuries and illnesses during these audits may give OSHA valuable data. Right now, OSHA doesn’t audit employer records for approximately two calendar years. By that point, a worker who was sick or injured and had to take time off work may not longer be with the company or may have forgotten the specifics of the work accident or incident that led to the injury or illness.The GAO says OSHA should add eight more industries, including amusement parks, rental centers,and industrial launderers, to to its high-hazard industry list.

Employers that have under 11 employees and those in low-hazard industries do not have to report or record an incident to OSHA unless someone dies or at least three worekrs are hospitalized. This means that some 83% of all workers are exempt.

GAO says some employers can pressure their injured or sick workers to underreport work incidents in an attempt to avoid having to pay work injury benefits. Bonuses can be based on safety records and a worker may be afraid of getting fired if he or she files a workers' compensation claim.

Also, a 2006 study by two researchers from University of Illinois-Chicago say that OSHA’s changes redefining illnesses and injuries have allowed employers to interpret incidents in a more narrow manner. The researchers say the decline in illness and injury rates is linked to this.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there were 3.7 million work injury and illnesses and 5,071 work-related deaths in 2008.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation
Our Chicago workers’ compensation law firm are committed to obtaining for our clients all of the Illinois workers’ compenstion benefits they are owed. Employers are not allowed to deny a worker his or her compensation for work-related injuries or illness. Workers can’t sue their employer for personal injury or wrongful death and they need to obtain their work injury benefits. Proving fault is not a requirement of being able to obtain Illinois workers' compensation benefits.

OSHA Misses Injuries and Illnesses, GAO Says, OMB Watch, November 24, 2009

The Report Summary


Related Web Resources:
General Accounting Office

OSHA

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