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Employers cannot use retaliation against injured workers

It seems that there is some debate over whether declines over the past decade regarding workplace injuries are due to safety programs and employer efforts or retaliation and incentives that encourage employees to leave injuries unreported. According to data from the federal government, the number of workplace injuries has declined by 31 percent over the past ten years.

Some safety experts believe that corporate safety programs in conjunction with investigations conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have contributed to a decline in the number of injuries that led to job restrictions, transfers to different labor or missed work days per 100 full-time workers. Federal data shows that this figure dropped from 2.6 in 2003 to 1.8 in 2011. But OSHA itself believes that many employers are disobeying the law and causing employees to feel that they cannot report injuries. This has led to fewer workers' compensation claims and has allowed the cost of workers' compensation to drop from $2.67 per $100 of payroll in 1994 to $1.79 in 2012.

During that same year, OSHA reminded employers that they cannot retaliate against employees who make a claim for an injury. They also cannot use incentive programs that award individuals for meeting safety goals, specifically if those incentives deter individuals from reporting injuries. One such program involved a U.S. hotel company and an event it called "Super Safety Bingo." Company employees could compete for prizes at the event as long as no one had been injured at the hotel at which they were working. With prizes such as a Ford Mustang, it is likely that this event led to pressure from supervisors and peers to leave injuries unreported.

If you have been injured on the job and it has caused severe suffering or damage, consider speaking to an attorney in Orlando, Florida, to determine what your options are. If the injury has caused you to incur hefty medical costs, you may be able to seek compensation for these bills as well as any work you have missed.

Source:  Wall Street Journal, "Workplace Injuries Drop, but Claims of Employer Retaliation Rise" James R. Hagerty, Jul. 22, 2013

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