As part of an ongoing series of hearings focusing on occupational safety and health issues, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor heard testimony on June 18 on the “hidden tragedy” of occupational injury and illness underreporting. Witnesses at the hearing testified that the current recordkeeping system fails to capture a significant number of occupational injuries and illnesses and is subject to manipulation from employers, who pressure occupational physicians to avoid recordable treatment and discourage employees from reporting injuries. And, according to the testimony of an OSHA official formerly responsible for recordkeeping, OSHA has “virtually ceased any meaningful enforcement activities” related to recordkeeping, in part because the Agency has a vested political interest in publishing low injury and illness rates. Testimony from the hearing and the Committee’s majority report on the issue are available at http://edlabor.house.gov/hearings/fc-2008-06-19.shtml.
While it is unlikely that there will be any immediate changes to the current recordkeeping system, it seems clear that OSHA will likely respond to the Congressional interest in recordkeeping by conducting more targeted inspections focused on the OSHA 300 Log and recordkeeping issues. The attention to the issue also makes it more likely that employees will file complaints with OSHA alleging that their employer is not properly recording work related injuries and illnesses. We believe that now is the time to ensure that your company’s OSHA recordkeeping system is in order. We have extensive experience in OSHA recordkeeping audits and training, so please let us know if we can help.
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