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Workplace safety records may be made public

Workers across Georgia could find safety information on their employer at their fingertips if the U.S. Department of Labor is successful in changing the way companies file their safety records. The proposed rule would require companies with at least 250 employees to file workplace injury and illness reports electronically. Currently employers are only required to post the information on bulletin boards in common areas in the workplace.

According to OSHA officials, the move would make it easier for workers, researchers and the general public to proactively prevent accidents on the job. Labor and workplace safety groups support the idea but a number of companies oppose it, saying that reporting raw injury data is misleading and can lead to misuse of the information. U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials say that simply recording data on injuries fails to tell the whole story behind how the workplace accident happened. On the other hand, employee advocate groups are in favor of the plan as an effective way of pressuring employers to comply with federal and state workplace safety rules.

Making this type of information publicly available could benefit the average worker. In the past, some employers may have failed to post accident information in a high-visibility place or neglected to inform their workers of hazards in a timely manner. Without this knowledge, the right of employees to a safe work environment could be threatened.

Although companies violating workplace safety rules face penalties, employees injured in workplace accidents can suffer loss of income, medical and rehabilitation costs and sometimes permanent disability. A worker's compensation attorney can advise clients of their workplace rights as well as their eligibility to file statutory claims.

Source: Yahoo News, "AP source: OSHA wants safety reports made public", Sam Hanael, November 06, 2013

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