Workplace accident reports can provide critical insight into whether more needs to be done to keep workers safer in certain industries, jobs or companies. They can provide a high-level perspective of what types of accidents are happening as well as when and where they are happening. This information can lead to the development and implementation of solutions to prevent accidents.

Unfortunately, these reports do not always reflect the full picture because they may not include all the data needed to draw effective conclusions. Currently, for example, companies are not required to report all workplace accidents to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Today, businesses are only required to report serious accidents to federal safety regulators when three workers have hospitalized in accidents or at least three people are catastrophically injured in one single accident. They must, however, report all fatal accidents.

What this means is that current reports on workplace safety do not reflect those first two victims at a company who lost a limb, were blinded or had to be transported to the hospital after serious accidents.

Thankfully, that will all change on Jan. 1 when a new rule will go into effect. Under the new rule, every workplace incident that results in hospitalization will need to be reported to OSHA. With the increase in accident reporting, hopefully there will be a clearer picture of workplace safety and transparency into where there may be room for improvement. 

It will be very interesting to see if reporting all serious workplace accidents instead of just those that have happened after repeated failures will lead to safer job sites. 

Source: Syracuse.com, “Lose an arm on the job? Your employer doesn’t have to report it, but that will change Jan. 1,” Rick Moriarty, Dec. 11, 2014