With Fewer Safety Rules in Place, Work Gets More Dangerous
May 10, 2019
A 2016 rule requiring employers to electronically submit detailed employee injury reports was overturned just months ago. The rule – called the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – was put in place to help health and safety inspectors identify hazardous work conditions, prevent accidents, and to encourage legislators to implement effective work safety laws. Now, employers are merely required to submit summary reports of at-work injuries, which fails to help health and safety officials identify dangerous workplace conditions. As a result, workers are left vulnerable to a slew of preventable workplace illnesses and injuries, thousands of which have fatal consequences.
Public health researchers and Public Citizen (a non-profit that promotes improving occupational health) are harshly criticizing the rule’s repeal. Officials say that without detailed illness, injury, and death reports, determining the cause of workplace accidents – as well as how to effectively prevent them from happening – proves too difficult.
Workplace Accident Data
Knowing how to prevent non-fatal and fatal workplace accidents is critical. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 14 workers die each day in the United States; that equals nearly 100 deaths every week. More than 5,100 workers died in 2017, and 20% were employed in the construction industry. The four top leading causes of workplace fatalities, known as the “Fatal Four”, are:
- Falls, which account for nearly 40% of deaths annually,
- Getting struck by objects, such as equipment, tools, or debris,
- Electrocution, and:
- Being caught in or compressed by objects or equipment, and struck, caught, or crushed by collapsing structures, equipment, or materials.
OSHA’s data indicates that by eliminating the hazards associated with the Fatal Four, more than 580 workers would be saved from fatal workplace accidents and injuries each year.
Officials Fighting For Worker Safety
Although some are happy about the new, scaled back requirements – such as employers who are more interested in underreporting employee accidents than they are in implementing effective safety and health measures to protect them – others are speaking out against the changes.
Recently, Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association (APHA), and others filed a lawsuit calling the rule’s repeal “unlawful”. The groups say that in order to effectively prevent job-related deaths and disabilities, there must be detailed accident data to learn from. Without it, too many hardworking men and women will continue to lose their lives in avoidable tragedies.
What Can You Do?
When it comes to laws, it is critical that legislators take the concerns of their constituents seriously. If you have questions about the new rules or want to voice your opinion on why the safety of workers needs to be a priority, you can contact your local representatives. To find out how to get in touch with federal, state, or local government officials in your area you can visit: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/.
We will keep our readers updated as this story continues to develop. If you have questions about how to file a workers’ compensation claim or need legal advice following a job-related injury or illness, please contact a representative at our firm who can help.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
If you were injured in a workplace or construction accident, please contact our Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.