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OSHA seeks to expand recording of workplace accidents

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets safety standards in order to try to reduce the number of workplace injuries and illnesses, and OSHA is generally in charge of protecting Arizona workers from unsafe workplaces. As part of OSHA's efforts, employers are required to keep records about incidents of occupational injuries and illnesses among their employees.

The government recently announced plans to expand its record keeping for workplace accidents. The new system will effectively make much of this safety information public, in an electronic database. Advocates for safety have argued that transparency on these issues is important to maintaining safe workplaces.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many industries have been resistant to the idea, arguing that it will add to their expenses and expose private information. OSHA recently announced that it was extending its comment period on the new measures in response to a request from the National Association of Home Builders, a construction industry trade group.

Whatever comes of the new rules, it's important for Arizona workers to know that they are protected from retribution at work when they follow proper procedures to report safety issues to OSHA, or when they cooperate with an OSHA investigation.

It's also important for workers to know that Arizona's workers' compensation system can help them to receive the benefits they need after a workplace injury. In theory, the system is supposed to be easy, but in practice, following all its procedures can be difficult. This is especially true when an employer or insurer initially rejects a claim.

An attorney with experience in workers' compensation claims can help injured workers through these procedures and fight for their interests along the way.

Source: OSHA.gov, "OSHA extends comment period on proposed rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses," Jan. 6, 2014

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