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OSHA reinforces protections for workers reporting injuries

Workers in the state of Illinois enjoy strong federal protections against accidents and injury in the workplace. The federal agency in charge of overseeing employee safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has recently expanded their system for the reporting of workplace injury and reinforced the laws protecting those who disclose these problems.

OSHA has chosen to phase these rule changes in gradually. The first set of alterations to the regulations take effect on Aug. 10. These alterations, designed to provide protections from employer retaliation to anyone who reports a safety hazard or injury accident, contain specific provisions meant to shield minorities in the workplace from discrimination as well. There are also rules requiring that all workplaces display a sign informing employees of their rights in some public area.

Employers will also be required to ascertain that their injury reporting procedure is reasonable and accessible. The exact application of the word "reasonable" is recognized to be open to some interpretation, so OSHA provided demonstrative examples showing how they intended this provision to be applied. Special attention was paid to the fact that it can take a period of time for an injured employee to realize and report their injury.

Any injury to a worker should be met with prompt and comprehensive workers' compensation payments to the injured individual. If the employer has committed some form of malfeasance, such as violating OSHA regulations, then it may also be possible to pursue a suit against them for full compensation plus punitive damages. In order to do this, the plaintiff must first refuse any automatic compensation payments that have been offered. An attorney may be able to help a client to interpret their particular situation and decide what the best course of action may be.

Source Web Link: National Law Review, "Compliance Date Nears for OSHA's New Recordkeeping Anti-Retaliation Rule", Nickole Winnett, 07/05/2016

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