Improving The Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses


Improving The Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

According to The Occupational Health Administration (OSHA) records, there were 4,383 workers killed on the job in 2012. This means that there is an average of 3.2 workers who lost their lives for every 100,000 full time workers. That works out to 84 per week or 12 deaths per day. The rate of non-fatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work to recover was 112 cases per 10,000 workers. The median days away from work were 9 days. It has been estimated that the cost of productivity costs as well as direct medical costs for these injuries totals 250 billion dollars per year.

     According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), preventing work-related injuries and illnesses is part of a wise national strategy for economic recovery and growth. Toward that goal, according to the Proposed rule posted by The Federal Register, Doc NO. 2013-26711, here is the proposed rule: “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.”

     Here is the summary:  “To improve workplace safety and health through a collection of useful, accessible and establishment-accessible injury and illness data. The proposed rule does not add or change any of an employer’s obligations for recording or reporting occupational injuries and illnesses. It does modify the employer’s obligation to transmit electronically to OSHA or to an OSHA designee. OSHA will require establishments that had 250 or more employees in the previous year to electronically submit those records to OSHA or their designee on a quarterly basis. OSHA will also require certain designated injuries with as little as 20 or more employees in the previous year to submit an annual summary form electronically. Finally, OSHA will require all employees who receive notification from them to submit electronically specific information from their Part 1904 Injury and Illness records. (Part 1904 requires employers to record and report work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses and are used for Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys, employers and employees to manage their individual workplaces and for OSHA to measure the performance of their inspectors.)

     Workplace injuries and illnesses and fatalities under OSHA are considered “those in which an event or exposure in the work environment either causes or contributes to the condition.”  Also, “an event or exposure in the work environment significantly aggravates a pre-existing injury or illness.” This includes but is not limited to: cuts, fractures, sprains or amputation.” Illnesses include “both acute and chronic illnesses such as skin disease, respiratory disorder or poisoning.”

 With the information acquired, employers, employees, employee representatives, the government and researchers will be able to identify and abate workplace hazards. Once the rule is finalized, OSHA estimates its implementation will cost $10.5 million per year. OSHA believes that the annual benefits, while unquantified, will significantly exceed the annual costs.

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