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OSHA focus on underreported injuries and illnesses

Underreporting of workplace injuries and illnesses is widespread, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) auditing process has failed to identify and correct this, according to a report, issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report identifies a number of factors that may contribute to the inaccuracy of employer injury and illness records, and inadequacies with OSHA’s records audit process, including:

OSHA agreed with all of the GAO’s recommendations to:

Lessons to be learned:

OSHA will be more vigilant in exploring how employees might be reluctant to report injuries at the workplace. Red flags for OSHA might be a labor intensive employer with little to no reported claims or a disproportionate number of lost time claims to medical only claims. Typically, this ratio is one lost time claim for every three medical only claims or lost time representing approximately 25% of all claims. You may also want to check with your state’s insurance department to find out what is average for your jurisdiction. You will need to ask for the total number of claims filed and the total number of lost time or indemnity claims filed.

Keep these lessons in mind when designing and implementing incentive programs and injury-reporting systems.