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Accurate logs of workplace injuries help workers attain benefits

When a worker is injured on-the-job, the injury itself is frustrating enough. But workers also have to consider the implications of being unable to work until they have recovered. During that time, the worker may experience some financial challenges due to lost wages and the medical bills.

Injured workers can seek workers' compensation benefits to help with those financial difficulties. But in order to do so, there must be accurate documentation of the injury on the part of the employer. Without that information, the employer could deny that the injury ever occurred in the workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently fined a steel company after determining that a Pennsylvania facility owned by the company was under-reporting the number of injuries that occurred over a period of three years. OSHA initially took interest after a complaint was filed.

According to the news release, the company did not record workplace injuries in compliance with federal safety standards. Workers at the facility were experiencing hearing loss related to the nature of the work at the facility.

Because the company was not accurately logging the injuries, OSHA issued several citations that included willful violations and other-than-serious violations. Each citation is accompanied by a fine that the company must pay.

Federal safety standards for workplaces exist to protect workers from serious injury or harm. When an injury does occur, record keeping of the injury is important to ensure that the worker can seek workers' compensation. Often it can help to speak with someone who understands what options injured workers have and can help the worker avoid mistakes when seeking those benefits.

Source: OSHA Regional News Release, "US Labor Department's OSHA fines AK Steel Corp. $206,000 for willful and other record-keeping violations at Butler, Pa., facility," 06 June 2011

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