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OSHA proposes public disclosure of workplace injuries

OSHA has proposed to require public disclosure of workplace accident and illness statistics in an effort to increase worker safety.
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    December 24, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In a move that is expected to reduce injuries and improve workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently proposed changes that would require employers to publicly disclose illness and injury reports.

Details of the proposal

Under the rules currently in place, employers are only required to post yearly summaries of illness and injuries that occurred at the workplace in a common area so employees may view them. Under the proposed rules, companies would be required to submit workplace injury and illness data electronically each year. Because the information would be submitted electronically, members of the public, not just employees, would be free to view the information.

If the new rules were implemented, about 38,000 companies that have more than 250 employees would be required to submit workplace injury or illness data once a quarter. In addition, the 440,000 companies that operate in industries with high rates of illness or injury (e.g. mining) with 20 or more employees would need to electronically submit data once a year.

Once the rules are enacted, OSHA hopes that public disclosure would lead to a decrease in workplace accidents and illnesses, because it would pressure companies to comply with existing safety rules and improve their safety procedures. In addition, OSHA believes that the rules would allow them to more efficiently allocate their resources. As the agency has only 2,400 inspectors for all workplaces in the United States, the new rules would allow it to target companies with poor safety records and reduce inspections at companies that regularly have few injuries or illnesses.

South Carolina law and workplace injuries

The proposal should be welcome news to South Carolina workers. As of 2012, it is estimated that 4.4 people per 100 workers suffer an employment-related illness or injury each year. Fortunately, for those that are injured (or develop an illness) compensation is available under South Carolina's workers' compensation law. The law is no-fault, meaning that employees do not have to prove that their illness or injury was caused by the employer's negligence in order to recover compensation. In addition, compensation may be awarded if the employee is partially at fault for the injury or illness.

Assuming that the injury or illness occurred while the employee was advancing the employer's business objectives, the South Carolina workers' compensation system will pay for all reasonable medical care (e.g. medication, surgery, rehabilitation, etc.) until the employee reaches maximum medical improvement (i.e. further treatment would not improve the condition). In addition to medical expenses, employees who are unable to work because of their illness or injury may recover up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage (up to a limit).

If you are injured or develop an illness while carrying out your job, it is important to contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney, as this area of the law is complicated and full of exceptions. An attorney can assist you with making a successful application for benefits and can ensure that you receive the maximum compensation due to you under law.

Article provided by David Yokel
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