According to national statistics, more than three million workers suffer from an on-the-job injury or an illness every single year in America. Unfortunately, many of those victims live in or work in Chicago, a densely populated area that houses millions of workers daily. Injuries not only affect these workers but also their family members, loved ones, friends, and employers who find themselves shorthanded while a victim recovers. It is in everyone’s best interests to make workplaces as safe as possible and to reduce or eliminate as many work injuries as practicable.
A branch of the U.S. Department of Labor is charged with establishing basic safety guidelines at work site and with monitoring and, where appropriate, sanctioning conduct among employers if deemed to go against its rules. That branch, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), also requires many employers to gather information related to the injuries of their workers so that the information can be reviewed, analyzed, and new guidelines can be issued if reasonable to increase safety.
Until recently, data related to individual employers and their safety records was not widely available but thanks to a pending rule change by OSHA, that will change in the coming months.
The new rules govern employers in high-hazard industries, or those where injuries are particularly likely to occur. These employers will be forced to continue gathering data as they have in the past but that data will have to be reported directly to OSHA for public posting on OSHA’s website. Once these new rules take effect on August 10, 2016, employees and potential employees of a company will be able to look up that institution’s track record as it relates to safety and determine whether they are willing to work for such an entity. Further, OSHA states that the public disclosure of work injuries will encourage employers to take steps to reduce the number of incidents taking place, thereby limiting the reporting they must do and presenting a safety-first company in the public’s eye.
The data related to accidents and injuries will not be identifiable to individual victims who were hurt on-the-job and to keep the numbers as accurate as possible, the rule provides for employees to report their injuries to OSHA without fear of retaliation for their self reports. With greater disclosure and transparency, OSHA hopes to reduce the number of work accidents far below three million even as more workers join the workforce annually.
Many people do not realize that any type of employee can be the victim of a work accident. Some jobs, including construction, factory work, assembly line positions, work with ultra hazardous materials, and positions in healthcare are more likely to produce accidents than others, but any type of position can and has led to injuries. Experienced attorneys in this field regularly see office workers who have experienced slip-and-fall accidents, employees of stores who have been hurt by falling boxes and/or products, and truck and cab drivers who are involved in collisions while working.
Even with these new rules, though, injuries and possibly even deaths will continue to happen in Chicago, but hopefully at a lower rate. If you happen to be the victim of such an accident, make sure you understand your rights and whether you have the ability to obtain relief for your injuries to help you and your family move beyond your accident through a workers’ compensation claim.
Prior Blog Entry:
Helping Your Kids Understand Pedestrian Safety in Chicago, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 12, 2016.
OSHA’s Final Rule to Improve Injury Reporting/Transparency Takes Effect August 10, Claims Journal, published May 11, 2016.