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OSHA issues updated list of inspection-exempt industries

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reviews injury statistics and makes adjustments to its list of industries exempt from programmed safety inspections. From year to year, some employers in Louisiana with 10 or fewer employees may or may not be exempt.

To qualify for exemption, an industry must be classified as low hazard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics based the most recent ratings on injury rates for 2015. Industries achieved a low hazard rating for 2017 when they reported less than 1.6 injuries that required workers to miss work per 100 full-time workers. Once a small employer gains a low-hazard industry classification, OSHA inspections will not be scheduled unless injuries happen or workers make complaints.

Industries that gained the exemption in 2017 included logging, flooring contractors, retail bakeries, nitrogenous fertilizer manufacturing and industrial gas manufacturing. Regulators took away exemption from shellfish fishing, iron and steel mills, carpet and rug mills, natural gas distribution, floor covering stores and others.

An employee who has concerns about workplace safety might wish to talk to an attorney about how to report a problem to regulators. If the person suffered an injury in an on-the-job accident, then they should qualify for workers' compensation benefits. An attorney could also support an employee making an insurance claim, especially if an employer does not want to provide information about benefits. An attorney could access information about the insurance policy, help the person find a medical care provider and fill out applications for insurance benefits. If an insurance company denies a claim, then the attorney could appeal the decision. Through negotiations, an attorney might gain a settlement that adequately addresses the person's medical bills and lost income. Filing a lawsuit remains an option as well if a person cannot obtain appropriate compensation.

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