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OSHA and MSHA struggle with underreporting of injuries

Georgia residents with questions about workers' compensation should be aware that the underreporting of injuries is an obstacle faced by both OSHA and MSHA. When employers are not reporting injuries, employees are losing opportunities for compensation.

The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General's semiannual report to congress states that OSHA's efforts to force employers to report injuries and fatalities lack sufficient guidance on both preventing and detecting underreporting. The report states that OSHA should focus on targeting the most persistent violators. OIG has doubts that OSHA is able to adequately measure the impact of its policies and notes that there are employers who are refusing to correct hazards. OSHA has tightened its regulations and requires employers to report specific injuries and fatalities within designated time periods, but it has issued thousands of citations for failure to report or late reporting.

OIG determined that OSHA did not have adequate measures in place to ensure that information on injuries and fatalities was complete. During a review, OSHA's former assistant secretary admitted that an estimated 50 percent or more of severe injuries had not been reported at all. OIG also has concerns about MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, stating that the agency fails to have a consistent approach to reducing risks associated with mining and logging. The report also noted that MSHA failed to report multiple injuries and illnesses associated with mining.

In the event of a work-related injury, injured parties may be eligible for compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. An attorney with experience in workplace injuries may be able to prove that the employer was not following proper safety protocol and was therefore at fault.

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