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OSHA's workplace injury report regulation proves to be successful

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says its regulation for employers to report severe workplace injuries within 24 hours has resulted in safer work environments for thousands of workers nationwide, including here in Colorado. The rule came into effect on Jan. 1 of last year, not affecting the existing law that fatalities must be reported within eight hours. A severe workplace injury is one that requires hospitalization, the loss of an eye or an amputation.

OSHA reports that 10,388 such reports were filed in 2015, of which 7,636 involved hospitalization and 2,644 amputations. The agency says many of these companies would not have been visited had the reporting rule not been in place. However, OSHA can now respond to many of these incidents without physical inspections, but by communicating with employers to pinpoint hazards and work on eliminating them.

The agency also reported that it found that many companies exceeded in their compliance with safety regulations and their eagerness to prevent future injuries. However, some of the responses it received indicated a complete disregard of the quest for safer work environments. According to reports, one employer tried to conceal a whole area of machinery from inspectors.

This new regulation may benefit many Colorado workers, but in the event of an unanticipated workplace injury, the victim can find comfort in the knowledge that he or she may pursue financial assistance. A benefits claim may be filed with the workers' compensation insurance system. Successful claims will yield compensation to cover medical bills. Also, a percentage of lost wages -- based on the injured worker's wage level – may also be included in the benefits paid.

Source: ehstoday.com, "Over 10,000 Severe Worker Injuries Reported in First Year of OSHA Requirement", Sandy Smith, March 17, 2016

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