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Workplace injury risk higher than numbers show

The Department of Labor has released statistics that could cause some concern for workers in Louisiana and around the coutntry. Data from 2014 showed an increase in fatalities and showed a significant problem remains with over 10,000 instances of severe workplace injuries, including amputations. According to OSHA, the reported number of injuries is likely much lower than the actual number. The cause is likely to be a misunderstanding of new reporting regulations. The general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters suggests that lax protection of workers' rights is partly to blame as well.

After considering reports of serious injuries made to state-level departments and other factors, OSHA concluded that "perhaps 50 percent or more" of severe injuries are not reported at all. Prior to a new regulation, only workplace fatalities were reported to the federal agency. The new requirement calls on employers to submit a report on injuries requiring medical attention. Within the first year of reporting, OSHA noted that a majority of cases of severe on-the-job injuries came from large employers.

Some observers believe that there is a failure to encourage and protect workers who speak out about job hazards. Whistleblower laws, for instance, are not enforced to the degree necessary. Immigrant and illegal workers are often under intense pressure to keep quiet.

An employer's failure to protect workers, by providing the correct safety equipment and following legal requirements of OSHA, can result in severe injuries that can often prove fatal. Attorneys representing injured victims and their family members will tell their clients that the receipt of workers' compensation benefits will preclude a subsequent lawsuit against a negligent or reckless employer.

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