The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented new injury reporting protocols last year. Basically, employers are now required to report certain injuries and all hospitalizations within 24 hours of learning of such events. These new reporting guidelines were initially seen as a benefit to employers who wished to avoid further scrutiny from federal regulators.
Also, since the process could be completed electronically and on a voluntary basis, it was expected that many employers would join the process. However, the reporting of such injuries fell considerably short of expectations in 2015.
It cannot be a coincidence that federal regulators became increasingly concerned that employers were not properly reporting injuries and shirking their responsibilities of keeping safe workplaces.
The act of increasing penalties for non-compliance is a likely response to the lack of reporting by employers. The previous penalty for failing to report workplace injuries was $1000.00 for each violation. The new penalty will be $5,000.00. Additionally, OSHA regional directors are being given the discretion to increase the penalty to $7,500.00 depending on the severity of the injuries suffered and any previous violations.
Regardless of these increases, a worker’s ability to report workplace injuries should not change. Also, the protections an employee has if they are threatened or retaliated against for reporting unsafe conditions stays the same.
Further, an injured employee should have the confidence to stand up to an employer who believes that he or she should return to work even though they are still injured. This is where an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help.
If you have questions about your rights to benefits as you recuperate, an skilled attorney can advise you.