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Workplace safety record-keeping rule may be reversed

Since 1971, OSHA has required many employers to maintain detailed records when workers sustain illnesses or injuries as a result of performing their jobs. People in Louisiana who are concerned about their safety while at work should be aware that Congress is working to repeal the regulation mandating that careful safety records be kept.

A former head of OSHA states that the rule affects millions of employees in industries such as steel manufacturing and food processing. These safety logs help workers and employers understand what is occurring in the workplace and examine why people are getting injured. Safety advocates assert that undoing the rule would make it difficult to hold companies accountable if they do not keep track of workers' injuries.

Companies are currently required to keep safety records of injuries for five years. If these documents are inaccurate or falsified, businesses can be fined.

However, in 2012, a court ruling made it more difficult for the government to penalize companies for improper logs. According to the ruling, if a worker is injured, and the incident isn't documented, the government only has six months to examine the log and levy a fine. Since there have not been sufficient safety inspectors available to identify the violations quickly enough, there has been a 75 percent drop in citations for bad record-keeping. Cases in which OSHA would assess fines because dozens of injuries had not been recorded by an employer have vanished.

An attorney that specializes in workers' compensation law may advise individuals who have been injured at work about their legal options. They may have grounds to file lawsuits if their injuries were caused by falling debris or ladders, slip and fall accidents, trenches collapsing or machinery being operated negligently.

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