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New workplace injury reporting rules coming

OSHA has implemented new rules to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Employers, of course, have long been required to have a system in place to report work-related injuries and illnesses. By Jan. 1, however, certain employers (those with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the record-keeping regulation) must begin electronically submitting the injury and illness reporting forms to OSHA.

In turn, OSHA will publish the results on a website open to the public, in hopes of encouraging employers to improve workplace safety.

Also, with this new database of information, the agency says it can apply more in-depth analytics into incident rates, identifying in real-time which companies should be inspected.

OSHA formulated the rule with several concerns in mind.

First, it believes employers may be unfairly mandating drug testing of an employee after a workplace injury occurs. Drug testing can be administered only with reasonable cause. Secondly, incentive programs that reward employees when no injuries are reported are also a problem. OSHA believes these types of programs discourage reporting. Lastly, OSHA is also concerned that employers wait too long to discipline employees who violate safety procedures.

Employers have every incentive to ensure their workplaces are safe.

OSHA recently increased its maximum penalties for workplace safety violations by over 78 percent.

Effective Aug. 1, the maximum penalty for serious violations increased from $7,000 per violation to $12,471. More notably, however, businesses should be aware that the ceiling for each willful or repeat violation will rise from $70,000 to $124,709.

And, no, that’s not a typo, folks. How does OSHA justify such a dramatic increase?

Well, the maximum penalties were last adjusted in 1990, so this is the initial catch-up increase to reflect inflation over the past 25 years.

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