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New changes to workplace accidents reporting procedures

During the Obama administration, a rule was enacted requiring most employers to submit annual electronic reports to the Department of Labor detailing workplace accidents and injuries. Earlier this month, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) struck down that rule. Now, employers must only submit annual summaries of workplace accidents and injuries instead of more comprehensive reports.

OSHA cited privacy concerns as the main reason for the change in reporting. The Administration stated that detailed accident reports revealed "descriptions of workers' injuries and body parts affected" in workplace accidents. OSHA also cited an attempt to "reduce the regulatory burden on companies and increase the efficiency of the agency's operations" as another reason for the change.

As you might expect, there are opponents to this change in reporting requirements. Representative Bobby Scott, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, has publicly criticized the change saying that less detailed reports would make a negative impact on how effectively government agencies, including OSHA, are able to monitor workplace safety.

Workplace accidents occur in all states, including California. The loss of detailed, accurate employer reporting procedures has the potential to reduce the government's ability to address issues resulting in workplace accidents. Employees could continue to experience preventable accidents in the workplace, which can have a negative effect on the economy as well as on individual families.

Most victims of workplace injuries can file a workers' compensation claim or work with a lawyer to ensure they receive the full amount of compensation they are due. However, it is still crucial that government agencies understand why and how workplace accidents occur. Proper reporting of injuries and accidents is one such way for everyone to aid the government on their efforts to improve workplace safety.

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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