Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: OSHA Proposes Increased Transparency for Workplace Injuries, Facing Pushback from Retail Industry
March 2, 2015
Presently, companies like Walmart and Target are protected from having to disclose incidents of workplace injuries to regulatory agencies and the general public, allowing them to hide potential hazards. But a new regulation proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is set to change reporting requirements.
The new regulation, called the OSHA Data Initiative, will require companies with more than 250 employees from all industries to submit detailed information regarding workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA to be included in their national database. Smaller companies in high-hazard industries like waste collection, construction, and freight trucking, are also included in the proposal. The goal is to help employers, employees, the government and researchers identify companies with safety problems.
The plan has received its fair share of pushback from trade groups that represent some of America’s largest chains, including Walmart, McDonald’s, and Home Depot. Groups like the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have spent millions of dollars on lobbying in an effort to squash the rule. They complain that the regulation would put an undue burden on companies, be too costly, and will bolster the power of unions.
The process of recording worker injuries and illnesses is nothing new to these companies, who are already required by OSHA to keep records internally. The new rule will simply require these companies to electronically submit that information to OSHA on a quarterly basis, a process manufacturing companies have been doing for more than a decade.
The information collected will include the employee’s job title, the type of injury, where it occurred, what the employee was doing prior to the incident, as well as the number of days the employee was absent, restricted, or transferred as a result. The searchable database will provide injury and illness rates as they pertain not just to certain industries, but to specific establishments.
Employee advocacy groups are pleased with OSHA’s plan, which some say is long overdue. In a surprising report issued by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in 2010, researchers found a disproportionately high number of injuries in the wholesale and retail trade industries, which are widely perceived as relatively non-risky occupations. Some of the most common types of injuries include musculoskeletal disorders, sprains, strains, and back injuries, typically resulting from lifting. Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis were also found to be common among these trades.
Moreover, surveys have indicated that workers in these occupations are often less inclined to report these injuries for fear of losing their jobs, especially if they are employed part-time. Having a database that one can use to support a claim that an injury was work-related, and not the fault of the employee, may give workers a better chance of achieving a successful outcome when filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. It will also give employers and regulatory agencies information that will help to identify problems so that they can be fixed before they cause injury and harm to employees.
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Workplace injuries can happen anywhere, even in places not commonly thought of as high-risk environments. Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger are dedicated to helping injured workers in all industries whose lives have been changed by a workplace accident, injury, or exposure. We have been successful in securing high client recoveries for injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Click here to review our Workers’ Compensation settlements in Philadelphia. To schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced and skilled Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers, call 1-800-222-8792 today or contact us online.