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New rule means workplace injury information to be made public

On behalf of Jeffrey Frederick of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workers’ Compensation on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

Work-related injuries are serious concern to all workers, but are especially worrisome to those employed in high-risk industries. A new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration aims to make information regarding injuries in the workplace transparent to the public. This means that people in Illinois who are especially concerned about the possibility of suffering a workplace injury could have more beneficial information available to them when making employment decisions.

Only industries who are continued to be a high-hazard to workers’ safety are affected by the new rule. Among those are construction, waste collection, grocery stores, hospitals and many more. Employers in these types of industries will now be required to keep a detailed and up-to-date log of any and all injuries and illnesses related to work. Those logs will be publicly available to OSHA inspectors and employees, and OSHA will also post relevant information online.

The move to establish a new rule encouraging transparency was made in response to the current system, in which there is often no public information available to employees and even OSHA. The administration will now have access to information regarding specific injuries — such as amputations or broken limbs — for businesses who employ over 250 workers. Businesses under that number will still have to make reports to OSHA, although they will only be required to submit the total number of work hours and total number of illnesses and injuries.

Creating an environment in which each and every workplace injury is subject to transparency can ultimately lead to safer workplaces for people in Illinois. Not only can employees make better informed decisions concerning their continued employment in a certain industry, but employers might be more inclined to better maintain safety protocols after finding out that their injury rate will be made public. This new rule will not affect injured employees’ ability to file for or receive workers’ compensation benefits, which are a vital tool for recovery.

Source: The Guardian, “Public to get online access to US workplaces’ injury and illness records“, Steven Greenhouse, May 11, 2016

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