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Changes for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses

In 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised several safety standards for employers. The standards can be very comprehensive and many California businesses or others around the country may have difficulty following all of them. One particular rule instituted by OSHA deals with reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses.

The new rule addresses electronic injury and illness reporting. While companies were already required to provide certain information, they are now expected to submit it electronically. This will hopefully make employers more accountable and prevent on-the-job injuries.

The rule also deals with an anti-retaliation component. Employees must be aware that they have a right to report work-related illnesses or injuries, without fear of retaliation. Furthermore, the system for reporting incidents must not prevent employees from coming forward. Finally, a company cannot retaliate against workers for reporting on-the-job incidents.

Employers may have questions regarding the new rules, such as how to handle disciplinary procedures if safety rules are violated. The rule establishes that disciplinary action may be taken if rules were violated, but not solely because an injury or illness was reported. Another issue involves drug testing after a reported accident. Drug testing is still permissible, but it should be reasonably related to the accident.

Every employee has the right to safe working environment. The new guidelines and reporting requirements from OSHA should improve safety on the job for employees. However, when workplace injuries occur, a California workers' compensation attorney can work with clients to pursue recovery of the full amount of benefits to which they are entitled.

Source: bizjournals.com, "OSHA changes rule on tracking workplace injuries and illnesses", Woody Hill, Aug. 27, 2017

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