Employers have until April 30 to report back to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration concerning any work-related injuries and/or illnesses staffers may have incurred during 2012.
While our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers know that this may seem of little consequence to most employees, especially considering you may only be learning about some of these incidents many months after the fact.
However, we believe it's important to avail yourself of information regarding real situations that caused your co-workers harm, as this may help you prevent some of those same situations from causing injury again in the future.
OSHA requires that all employers with 10 or more workers and who have not been previously classified as partially exempt have to report work-related illnesses and injuries by filling out several OSHA forms. Submissions were accepted beginning Feb. 1, 2013 and are being collected through April 30, 2013.
Some examples of the exempt companies include those in historically low-hazard fields, such as insurance, real estate, finance, retail or service. A full list can be found by clicking here.
Those employers who are required to fill out accident and injury reports have to post this information or make it available to all employees. OSHA notes that all employees - past and present - are entitled to copies of that paperwork. If you request a copy of these forms, you have to be provided a copy of these records by the end of the following business day.
The types of things that are covered include:
- All work-related fatalities;
- All work-related illness or injuries that result in time away from work, restriction of duties, assignment to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid or loss of consciousness;
- Any major work-related illness or injury - even if it doesn't meet the above criteria - has to be recorded;
- These include, but aren't limited to: sprains, fractures, cuts, skin diseases, respiratory disorders or poisoning.
Treatments for illness or injury that would fall under the first-aid category of ailments (and therefore would not be reportable) include:
- Cleaning, soaking or flushing wounds;
- Hot or cold therapy;
- Eye patches;
- Removing foreign contaminants with a cotton swab;
- Finger guards;
- Massage therapy;
- Consumption of fluids for heat stress;
- Removal of splinters;
- Use of non-prescription strength painkillers.
That's not to say ailments treated with these methods COULDN'T be reported, but if that treatment was truly the full extent of it, it's possible you may not find out about that injury or illness.
At the end of the day, employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a workplace that is free from major hazards and to adhere to local, state and federal laws and regulations applying to safety. That means giving employees the proper tools to do the work, as well as making sure employees are well-trained and aware of potential hazards. Informing workers of any failures in this regard shows good faith on the part of employers, and encourages constant evaluation and improvement.