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Guidelines for reporting workplace fatalities become stricter

New regulations for reporting workplace injuries and deaths were announced on Sept. 11 but won't take effect until the new year. Current regulations allow businesses to keep quiet about severe injuries or fatalities unless three or more people are involved. The changes will mean that employers must report deaths and serious injuries to OSHA quickly even if they include only one or two workers, which is something that North Carolina workers might be glad to hear.

A report of a workplace death will be required within eight hours of the incident. In 2013, more than 4,400 workers died in work-related accidents. Injuries that require hospitalization or involve the loss of an eye or limb need to be reported within 24 hours, starting on the first of the year. OSHA's assistant secretary of labor said that serious injuries indicate dangers in the workplace that require intervention. He also said that the tighter regulations will allow the federal government to assist employers deal with risks to workplace safety.

The director of labor law policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed concern over the new rules, pointing out that complications could occur when the reports become public. He also stated that the current rule of reports only being necessary for incidents involved three or more workers increased the likelihood that of those incidents truly being work-related. A professor at Fordham University opined that the new regulations would give both the government and employers a chance to think about why workplace accidents were happening on a case by case basis.

Employees who have been injured on the job might not know where to turn for help. Family members of workers killed on the job could similarly be in need of assistance. An attorney with experience in workers' compensation can review the situation and determine the remedies that are available.

Source: WNCT, "Feds tighten rules on workplace death reporting", Tom Raum, September 11, 2014

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