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What does OSHA do after work accidents?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration becomes involved when employees are seriously injured or killed -- or have a close call in which either result might have occurred -- here in Arizona and elsewhere. The agency does not like to say that it investigates work accidents, but rather work incidents since time and experience show that most injurious events are preventable. Nevertheless, their investigations provide valuable information regarding deficiencies in workplace safety, or the lack of any safety measures at all.

OSHA is not interested in placing blame, but instead in finding and correcting the causes of work injuries and fatalities. Companies are encouraged to conduct their own investigations involving supervisors, managers and employees. It would be easy to say that a worker failed to follow proper procedure or became careless, but often, larger safety issues are at the heart of the incident.

The discovery that a worker failed to follow a procedure should not stop the inquiry. Why was a safety measure not followed? Inadequate training could be the cause, or a safety measure could be out of date.

Did production pressures cause safety to be ignored? Supervisors and managers are responsible for making sure that safety is not compromised in favor of production quotas. Any number of factors can contribute to work incidents. Identifying and correcting them should be every Arizona companies' priority.

As for the workers who are injured or killed in work accidents, they and their families would surely prefer that these inquiries had taken place prior to the incident that caused the injury or death. Injured workers or their families might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover medical bills, lost income or funeral costs, if applicable, among other benefits. Obtaining those benefits can be frustrating, so it would be beneficial not to attempt to navigate the process alone.

Source: osha.gov, "Incident Investigation", Dec. 25, 2016

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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma, and throughout Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County, and all of Arizona.

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