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Report - Companies Underreporting Work-Related Injuries

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, November 16, 2009 11:15 PM EST
Category: In The Workplace
Tags: OSHA, GAO Report, Safety Violations, Workplace Safety



Work-related illnesses and injuries are often under-reported finds a new report by The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the “investigative arm of Congress.”

The findings call into question, the accuracy of nationwide data compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) each year.

The report finds many employers did not report workplace illnesses and injuries for fear of jeopardizing their chances of winning contract bids for new work, increasing their workers’ compensation costs or because they were worried their co-workers might lose awards, as part of safety-based incentive programs.

Moreover the report also found that at least a third of occupational health providers said they were pressured to withhold medical treatments or downplay serious illness and injury so companies could avoid filing reports with OSHA.

By properly auditing employer records and not relying solely on employer data, OSHA could catch some of the underreporting, the report said.

“Many of the issues highlighted in the report are alarming and the agency will be taking strong enforcement action where we find underreporting,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education.

The report was sought by Democratic lawmakers who were skeptical of the numbers that have shown a decline in the rate of workplace illnesses and injuries between 1992 and 2007.

Employers with more than 10 workers are required to record every work-related illness or injury that results in lost work time or medical treatment other than first aid.

In 2007, there were 4 million cases in which workers became ill or were injured as a direct result of unhealthy or unsafe working conditions.

The report also found OSHA does not review the accuracy of illness or injury records for worksites in eight “high hazard” industries – including amusement parks – because it has not updated industry codes used to identify these industries since 2002. ##

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Brad
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:19 PM EST

Part of my job involves reviewing contractors safety & health record, this includes reviewing their OSHA log. I have been appalled with the mistakes I have seen. The worst of the mistakes is when companies actually over report their hours worked in the year. Calculation of one company's 300 log I figured that for the average number of employees worked in a year they would have each had to of worked a little more than 25 hours a day, including weekends!

This needs to be fixed and it is more than the under reporting of actual injuries and illness. I hope they look at this

Comments for this article are closed.

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