Pennsylvania employers are required by state and federal law to keep their workplaces safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the primary federal agency that is tasked with this oversight. Now a study by the Institute for Work and Health has confirmed that OSHA’s efforts have been effective and efficient.
The report was unable to draw a clear line between the threat of possible fines by the agency and improvements in workplace safety. However, they showed an undeniable correlation between workplaces that had been fined or cited and a direct reduction in the frequency and severity of workplace injuries afterwards.
OSHA will be increasing its fines for the first time since 1990, as a result of 2015 legislation enacted by Congress. It is estimated that the fines will increase by 80 percent in 2016, to keep place with inflation since 1990.
Even when employers follow all safety protocols and OSHA requirements, some workplace accidents are unavoidable. A person who has been injured on the job may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. These can include the costs of current and future medical care and treatment and a portion of wages that were lost during the recovery period. In the case of severe injuries, there may be long-term disability payments that are available. As the filing process is time-sensitive, many injured workers obtain the assistance of an attorney in compiling the documentation required to support the claim. Legal counsel may also be advisable if the employer or its insurance carrier disputes or denies the claim, as is not uncommon.
Source: Claims Journal, “Research Finds That OSHA Citations, Penalties Reduce Workplace Injuries”, Nov. 23, 2015