A few years ago, a report from the Government Accountability Office indicated that both workers and employers don’t just occasionally underreport work-related ailments. In fact, underreporting of work-related injuries and illnesses is routine, researchers found. This trend has continued.
Workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta believe that understanding the reasons why and also the consequences can help improve the overall reporting rate, which will ultimately boost workplace safety.
Reports from the the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have suggested that significant decreases in workplace injuries and fatalities in recent years were attributable to improvements in workplace safety and a decline in manufacturing jobs. However, the GAO pointed to a number of academic studies indicating that the agency failed to include up to two-thirds of all worker injuries and illnesses.
OSHA data relied heavily on what was reported to the government.
Employers surveyed anonymously cited their reasons for not reporting workplace injuries and illnesses had to do with fear of increasing workers’ compensation costs. Also, they feared losing out on contract jobs due to poor safety records.
A more recent study by a researcher at the Boston University School of Public Health named a few other reasons, including that the employer didn’t believe the injury was work-related or the supervisors were unclear about reporting requirements.
Workers, meanwhile, didn’t report on-the-job injuries because they worried that they could be disciplined or even fired. Sometimes, their concerns had to do with others. For example, they feared co-workers might lose out on certain bonuses or other rewards provided as part of safety-improvement incentives.
The Boston University report also indicated that a fair number of workers may not know they are entitled to compensation for injuries that occur at work.
Another study, published last year in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, focused solely on unreported injuries suffered by construction workers. Researchers indicated that most of those injuries went unreported because workers reasoned that the injury was either relatively small, was their fault or that pain was a natural part of their job. Some also indicated a fear of retaliation.
Here’s what our work injury lawyers want you to know:
- Pain should never be a natural part of anyone’s job. Pain is our body telling us something is wrong. We owe it to ourselves to listen and act.
- Even if an injury seems minor now, there is no guarantee it won’t worsen or become aggravated down the road, rendering you unable to work. But if there is no proof that the initial injury was work-related, it could be tougher to secure benefits.
- You can obtain workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries, even if you were at-fault. Unless you were acting outside the scope of your employment or with particular recklessness, fault is not the issue in a workers’ compensation claim. The primary issue is that it happened at work.
- Employer retaliation for reporting workplace injuries is illegal. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can provide you with information that will help you protect yourself and your career.
At the very least, set up an initial consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer to explore your options.
For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.
How Often Do Workplace Injuries Go Unreported? March 21, 2012, Les Boden, Boston University School of Public Health, Harvard Catalyst Biostatistics Program Seminar
Construction Workers Explain Why Workplace Injuries Go Unreported, 2013, International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, Center for Construction Research and Training
More Blog Entries:
Documentation of Work Injury Imperative for Successful Claim, March 24, 2014, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog