In a report released January 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that there were 10,388 severe workplace injuries in 2015; 7,636 of those injuries resulted in hospitalization and 2,644 resulted in amputations. The manufacturing industry has the highest reported accidents, accounting for 57% of all amputations and 26% of all hospitalizations, followed by the construction, transportation and warehousing industries. This data was collected by OSHA from 26 states with higher safety standards than federally mandated.
The report came as the result of new regulations that require companies to report serious workplace accidents within 24 hours. This new program took effect on January 1, 2015 in an effort to reduce the amount of workplace injuries; currently there are 30 severe work-related injuries a day. OSHA stated that during investigations of fatal injuries they often find a history of serious injuries at the site, which was a wake-up call that safety issues were being disregarded.
OSHA believes that about 50% of the injuries reported from the 26 states are not reported, they believe this is a result of small companies not being aware of the new system. However, there are companies that try to hide unsafe conditions and fail to report hospitalizations. In one case, a manufacturer blocked the entrance to the building with forklifts in order to prevent investigators from entering the building.
OSHA’s 2016 budget removed an exemption from the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 which prevented the agency from raising penalty fines based on inflation. On August 1, 2016 OSHA penalty rates will increase by 80% in an effort to combat issues of not reporting injuries; fines for unreported injuries from will increase from $1,000 to $7,000 with plans to increase them further. The underlying principle of the program is that employers will be more likely to take action in the prevention of more injuries after having to interact with OSHA.
The author of the report and Assistant Secretary for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, stated that the main goal of the new system is to make workplaces safer. He also added that reporting injuries to the agency allows companies to interact with OSHA that would not be able to otherwise. The agency is also making an effort to ensure that small companies are aware of the reporting obligations and available resources.
If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related injury, please call the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC.