Why NC Workers Fail to Report Workplace Hazards

Workers of all ages and in all fields have their own individual reasons for failing to report workplace injuries. As Safety and Health Magazine explains: a sense of powerlessness may lead to employees not reporting safety concerns to their supervisor.


Our Asheville worker’s compensation lawyers are dedicated to informing the public of the dangers of workplace hazards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as other workplace safety programs share the message that workers have a right to be safe in the workplace and employees should always speak up about unsafe conditions. However, recent research indicates that construction workers and young works fail to speak up about safety hazards in the workplace. The reasons for non-reporting vary greatly but research suggests the solution lies with the supervisor.

Young workers seem to have a sense of powerlessness that prevents them from informing their supervisor about safety hazards. The problem with young workers is that they often follow a “wait and see approach.”

This approach means when a young employee notices a workplace hazard they wait to see if others will notice the problem instead of proactively informing their supervisors. Young people often hope the situation will resolve itself without their intervention.

Research suggests that young people feel that they have less influence and power in the workplace due to their inexperience and age.

Younger workers have indicated that they would be far more inclined to speak up if other workers agree that a hazardous condition exists and should be resolved. Young workers then would like to approach a supervisor as a group instead of individually.

Another study found a similar refusal to report safety hazards in the construction industry. A study reveals that construction workers do not report injuries when the injury is perceived as “small.”

Other reasons for the non-reporting of workplace injuries in the construction industry include:
• Not wanting to lose a safety incentive.
• Not being able to take time off to see a doctor (particularly without pay).
• Being afraid of losing their job or a future inability to get another job.
• Not knowing whether they have suffered an injury that is considered work-related.
• Feeling confident that home remedies would resolve any injuries.
• A desire to not be seen as a whiney employee or a “complainer.”
• Accepting pain as a part of the job.

Workers who feel their injuries are small can sometimes create future, more complicated problems for themselves and their employer. Often a small injury can lead to more significant problems if it is not handled up front.

This can cause more extended time off in the future which can hurt both the employer and the employee.

Research indicates that workers are more likely to report workplace injuries if there is an environment of open communication that is focused on problem solving. This type of environment is known as a “positive error management climate.”

It is recommended that supervisors be as open as possible and speak with subordinates on a daily basis even when the conversation is not focused on safety.

Contact our Carolina worker’s compensation attorneys today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blogs:

Marine in Georgetown South Carolina Cited for OSHA Violations, North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Blog, October 10, 2013

Independent Contractor Workers’ Comp and Third-Party Claims, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 20, 2013

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