Report: Underreporting of Injuries Remains Obstacle for OSHA

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA’s) efforts to require employers to report occupational fatalities and certain injuries in a timely manner lack “sufficient guidance on how to detect and prevent underreporting,” the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (OIG) states in its semiannual report to Congress. The OIG also points out inconsistencies in agency citations for late reporting.

The report, released 30 November, contains many of the same recommendations included in another OIG report—also issued in November—on the Department of Labor's top management and performance challenges.

“OSHA must strive to target the most egregious and persistent violators and protect the most vulnerable worker populations,” the semiannual report states. “For this targeting to be effective, OSHA needs to address issues related to the under-reporting of injuries by employers.”

OIG also is concerned about the agency’s ability to measure the effect of its policies and programs, as well as those of the 28 OSHA-approved State Plans, and notes that some employers are not correcting cited hazards.

OSHA changed its regulations in 2015 to require employers to report fatalities and specified injuries within certain time periods. The agency has issued at least 400 citations semiannually for late reporting or failure to report since the beginning of December 2015, according to an OIG audit.

“We determined OSHA did not have controls in place to ensure that it had complete information on the number of work-related fatalities and severe injuries,” OIG states in the report. “In fact, during the course of our review, OSHA’s former assistant secretary estimated that perhaps 50% or more of severe injuries had gone unreported.”

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