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Inadequacies found in OSHA's reporting of work injuries

Employers in New Jersey may know that in 2014, OSHA revised its rules on reporting cases of work-related deaths and serious injuries. Despite the fact that these rules have been in effect since January 2015, the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General has released an audit report showing that there are inadequacies in OSHA's current data as well as a lack of assurance that employers have abated the hazards connected to the incident.

The OIG report states that 50 percent or more of severe work-related injuries went unreported in the first year after the rule changes took effect. It also shows that a lack of information prevented OSHA from enforcing the rules and consistently issuing citations as a deterrent.

The report therefore recommends that OSHA set up formal guidance and training for how to detect and prevent underreporting. Currently, OSHA leaves it up to its regional and area offices to do so, which may explain the inconsistency in reporting. It also recommends the consistent issuing of citations for late reporting.

The OIG continues with the recommendation that OSHA should clarify its guidance regarding the documentation of employer-directed inspections and employers' decisions that lead to the correction of the hazard. OSHA should, lastly, emphasize the fact that all Category 1 incidents must be inspected.

When injured employees wish to file a workers' compensation claim, they must report the accident to their employer and let him or her know their intentions. Filing will waive their right to sue their employer; however, they could pursue a third-party personal injury claim at the same time if their injuries involved a negligent co-worker or the manufacturer of defective equipment.

This is where a lawyer may be of assistance. If benefits are denied, the lawyer may help mount an appeal. If successful, victims might be covered for medical expenses and lost wages.

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