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OIG finds room for improvement with OSHA

The Office of the Inspector General has released an audit report saying that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is not doing enough to gather information on workplace injuries and fatalities in Pennsylvania and other states. OSHA has also not been consistent in issuing citations to organizations that fail to meet filing requirements. OIG found that there was a lack of training and guidance regarding how to prevent and detect under reporting of employee injuries.

Auditors did reliability testing on data from 18,805 serious injuries and 3,642 fatalities reported between early 2015 and late 2016. After comparing the data against injury and fatality figures on the OSHA website, OIG made recommendations. The recommendations included that OSHA train staff and develop guidance regarding identifying under reporting, consistently issue citations in cases of late reporting, perform inspections for all Category 1 events and clarify guidance on corrections and documentation.

OSHA made changes to its record keeping rules for injuries and illnesses; the changes went into effect during January 2015, but OIG claims that the Administration is still failing to meet its reporting objectives. A former OSHA assistant secretary estimated that half or more of severe workplace injury cases might go unreported. OSHA was found to have had only limited assurance that employers had dealt with dangerous workplace conditions after an incident. OIG said OSHA lacked sufficient information to effectively use its enforcement powers toward compliance.

Workers who suffer injuries on the job in Pennsylvania might be entitled to recover through the state's workers' compensation system. An attorney may be able to help in such a case by examining the circumstances of the injury and providing advice about submitting a claim with workers' comp or by drafting and filing a claim on the client's behalf. An attorney might attempt to negotiate settlement of the claim or represent the client during official hearings.

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