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Reporting Workplace Injuries

In last weeks publication of Professional Safety, Vladimir Ivensky explored the differences between OSHA and RIDDOR policies. One major difference is the attention to reporting high-potential dangerous occurrences in RIDDOR policies. In contrast, OSHA only requires employers to report incidents that produce occupational injury or illness, reducing focus on high-potential dangerous occurrences. The reason for this difference can be attributed to the process of project bidding. OSHA recordable rates are typically used as key safety performance indicators, and a high rate is detrimental to the company hoping to be rewarded the bid.

“The need to maintain competitively low OSHA recordable rates creates a need to manage the outcomes of workplace injuries”.

As a consequence, many U.S. companies have a tendency disregard dangerous occurrences to reduce their rates, especially if no injury occurred. Under-reporting, however, is not unique to U.S. construction. Both OSHA and RIDDOR have almost an identical rate of under-reporting, with approximately 60% of occupational injuries going unreported.

After investigation, Ivensky found 5 common reasons employees do not report injuries: Fear of reprisal; a belief that pain was an ordinary consequence of work activity or aging; lack if management responsiveness after prior reports; and a desire not to lose their usual job. Furthermore, an interview with managers revealed administrative and other barriers to reporting, and a lack of reporting due to a desire to attain a goal of no reported injuries.

Recording all incidents and near-misses, helps foster a safer workplace, even when the record is not required. Encouraging reporting, proactive policies and procedures, and a safety first attitude, will help alleviate the lack of reporting. Having an emphasis on safety and reporting might increase your OSHA recordable rates, but it will demonstrate the company’s commitment to the well-being of it’s employees and strength of integrity.


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