Hyannis Construction Accident Underscores New Changes to OSHA Reporting

Most working people go to their jobs every day and perform their duties without any problems. Work site accidents are rare. Usually, only the more serious accidents make the news. Just weeks ago, a Hyannis construction worker was injured when a skid loader fell on him. The accident happened on a construction site near Attucks Lane. Luckily, the construction worker did not sustain any life threatening injuries and was taken to Cape Cod Hospital. Normally, workers can claim workers’ compensation for medical bills and lost wages. If the injuries were caused by defective equipment or employer negligence, they may be able to recover losses with a worksite accident lawsuit.

The construction accident in Hyannis came just ahead of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (the “OSHA”) proposal requiring that companies report work site injuries and illnesses to OSHA’s online database. OSHA has issued a news release outlining this proposal. Currently, OSHA requires employers with more than 250 workers to keep injury and illness records on file at the employer’s work site. The new plan, titled the “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” would require these same organizations to electronically report the incidents. Furthermore, the proposal would also require organizations with 20 or more employees in certain industries, known for high injury and illness, to submit an electronic annual summary.

Already, 80,000 employers report their injuries under OSHA’s Data Initiative project. These records have been successful in targeting industry related injuries and illnesses. The new proposal would add another 450,000 and 1,500,000 employers to the OSHA databases. Furthermore, OSHA eventually plans to make these records public once identifying information has been removed.

Proponents of the OSHA plan say it will help companies comply with safety rules by identifying those companies that are not following the rules. OSHA wants to recognize these responsible law abiding organizations. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary at OSHA said, “We believe responsible employers will want to be recognized in safety.” OSHA also hopes the data will help them develop programs and initiatives to prevent future injuries. Having more data, they will be better able to pinpoint areas of concern.

Opponents of the plan worry that the injury data will be used to unfairly characterize companies and industries as being unsafe. Marc Freedman, of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the mere recording of an injury does not tell the full story about the circumstances surrounding it. Freedman said, “Making company-specific data on injuries available for all to see would be a major problem and would likely lead to companies being targeted by outside groups who want to characterize these employers as having bad safety records.”

The data that OSHA keeps and analizes only tracks the number of workers employed and the number of recorded incidents. OSHA does break the data down to state and specific industry. The Hyannis construction worker’s reported in the news will be reported as an incident in the construction industry and in Massachusetts. We can use the OSHA data to create the following chart, which displays the number of employees and how many incidents have been recorded in construction in Massachusetts .

On the other hand, when an incident involves a fatality, OSHA will record the specific activity that led to the fatality. Using this added data, we can can create a graph trending the types of fatality related injuries in Massachusetts in construction. We can see that falls consistently cause a fatality around 8 to 14 times a year. Looking at the graph below, we can see how helpful the extra data adds to our analysis.

We do not take a position on the new OSHA rules, but we do support organizations that work to prevent work related injuries and illnesses. Most companies obey the laws, institute safety training, and provide safety equipment; unfortunately, some companies are not as cautious and cut corners to save money. Workers rely on jobs to pay their bills and support their families. Workers should expect a safe environment where they work.

If you have suffered from a work related injury, we can ensure that you do not settle for less than the compensation you deserve. Local attorney, John C. Manoog III, has extensive experience handling worksite accident cases. For a free initial consultation, call the office at 888-262-6664 or reach us by email. There is always someone available to talk to you about your case.

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