For decades, keeping abreast of OSHA management decisions and determinations has been a major point of interest for businesses everywhere, all the better to prevent fines from the administration, not to mention removing potential hazards. Recent announcements made by OSHA point toward new changes being made to standards in place, as well as new claims toward better business decisions.
In one situation, OSHA plans to make new considerations for eye protection, especially for construction workers, The Hill reported. Recently proposed new standards in the marketplace aim to protect workers from eye injuries, all the better to keep people safe. This means it's aiming to update standards with new requirements for personal protective equipment.
The changes would primarily apply to construction workers, many of whom operate in hazardous workplace conditions, but also to employees in several additional positions including workers at shipyards and marine terminals, longshoremen and general industrial workers. The proposed improvements to these standards would require that companies are held responsible for providing safer and healthier environments, all the better to keep workers safe over time.
Worker's comp frequently underpowered
A second determination made by OSHA recently found that workplace injuries aren't getting their due attention in businesses, The Chicago Tribune found. A recent OSHA report found that employers provide just a fifth of the overall financial cost of treating workplace injuries and illnesses. This is forcing taxpayers to subsidize most of the burden. Even with benefits, the incomes of injured workers fall over time – over the course of a decade, they lose an average of $3,100 per year. Low-wage workers are particularly at risk of losing earning potential.
To make matters worse, the rising adoption of temporary workers and independent contractors in many locations is making the consequences of these injuries much worse. The rise of these workers often reduces incentives for companies to take responsibility for safe working conditions.
"OSHA has encountered many situations, including some in which temporary workers have been killed, in which employers have chosen to not provide required safety training to temporary workers," the report says.
More than 4,000 workers are killed while working each year, and more than 3 million see serious illnesses or injuries recorded on employer logs. The actual numbers of deaths and injuries could be even higher because of a lack of reporting. The report concluded that preventing workplace injuries and eliminating roadblocks to compensation should be major points of emphasis in the future.
"The failure of many employers to prevent millions of work injuries and illnesses each year, and the failure of the broken workers' compensation system to ensure that workers do not bear the costs of their injuries and illnesses, are truly adding inequality to injury," OSHA stated.
Injuries to be publicly reported
In some cases, injuries incurred on the job will soon be reported widely, Modern Healthcare found. Later this year, OSHA will finalize a rule requiring healthcare employers, among others, to report occupational injuries in a public database. Anyone interested will be allowed to search employers' injury and illness reports, making this a pressing matter for many companies and providing a much better answer to some of the potential current problems with injuries.
Locations with 250 or more employees will be required to report workplace-related injuries and illnesses every quarter. Businesses with at least 20 employees will only need to report annually.
Pro-employee sources told Modern Healthcare that they believe this will make the problem of injuries on the job more visible. Critics, meanwhile, noted that patient information could go public, and that the resulting transparency might be harmful to some businesses.
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