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Workplace safety officials move to shine more light on accidents

Employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. They are often guided by the regulations enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency makes efforts to ensure that employees are protected, but workplace accidents do happen and sometimes employers disregard safety guidelines.

Officials from OSHA are reportedly looking for another way to help create and maintain safe workplaces. According to an official from the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees OSHA operations, there is movement to require employers to file work-related injury and illness reports electronically. Doing so would make workplace accidents public information.

The idea behind electronic, public accident records is that they would help safety officials enforce regulations. If workers and the public have greater visibility into accident records, then companies might feel more obligated to make safety a top priority. Under the current plan, businesses that employ 250 or more people would be subject to the new method of reporting work-related accidents.

Under current OSHA policies, employers are required to post accident reports on the premises of a worksite in a common area for employees to see. This policy, however, doesn't allow the general public to understand what is happening at local places of employment, which could be very useful information to have.

Although this plan has not yet been formalized or implemented, observers believe that some employers might raise objections about widely releasing accident data. Regardless, there is hope that the plan would be another step in helping to protect workers from unnecessary accidents on the job.

Source: KSTP News, "OSHA Plan to Make Safety Reports Public," Jennie Olson, Nov. 7, 2013

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