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Mining hazards, injury underreporting top OIG concerns

The Department of Labor has issued its semi-annual report from the Office of Inspector General. The report notes that underreporting of occupational injuries and fatalities of laborers in New Jersey and across the United States is an issue. The semi-annual report addressed the top challenges of the Department of Labor. Topping the list was the concern that OSHA needs to increase its efforts of requiring employers to report injuries and occupational fatalities.

In 2015, OSHA changed its regulations in how businesses report occupational fatalities and injuries and the time frame in which they must be reported. Since that time, OSHA has issued approximately 400 citations each year to businesses that failed to report or reported on problems too late. Unfortunately, the OIG report says that these citations are not enough and that there are no fail-proof ways to ensure that all injuries and fatalities are being reported.

The former assistant secretary for OSHA estimated that as many as 50 percent of severe injuries had not been reported in the past. In particular, the OIG report points out that the Mine Safety and Health Administration has an inconsistent approach when reporting, logging and responding to mining accidents and injuries. The OIG also recommended that the mining industry set a course of action in place to address injuries and fatalities as well as come up with a plan to address the growing number of pneumoconiosis, or "black lung," cases among miners.

Businesses that employ skilled laborers have the responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If the working environment isn't free from hazards and a business hasn't taken the proper steps to correct these concerns, the business may be responsible to pay for medical care and compensation. A lawyer may be able to help an injured or sick employee file a workers' compensation claim in order to receive financial help with medical bills.

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