When an employee is injured on-the-job, he or she may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. But when claiming those benefits, employees typically need documentation to show that the injury occurred in the workplace and that there was in fact injury. So what happens if a worker's employer does not properly keep track of workplace injuries?
A home improvement store in Colorado was recently cited by OSHA for inaccuracies surrounding their record keeping practices. In addition to not properly recording workplace injuries and illnesses, the store received 12 other citations that could result in over $80,000 in penalties.
Unsafe Working Conditions
OSHA reports that, of the 13 workplace infractions found, 7 were repeat safety violation. Repeat safety violations mean that the store had already been cited for a similar violation. These included the poor record keeping and exposing workers to dangerous electrical hazards.
Three of the citations were for violations that could have resulted in serious physical injury or even death. The citations were for machine guarding, electrical and emergency exit issues that the employer should have known existed.
Federal Standards of Worker Safety
The federal agency enforces the Occupational Safety and Health Act which is intended to make working environments safe for employees. Employers are responsible for meeting OSHA's requirements and, like this particular home improvement store, can be held accountable for not living up to national safety standards.
While workers who believe they are exposed to hazards on the job may report their employers to OSHA, sometimes dangerous working environments go undiscovered until an unusual number of employees have already become ill or injured.
Source: OSHA Regional News Release, "US Labor Department's OSHA cites Lowe's Home Centers for 13 violations following inspection at Castle Rock, Colo., store," 15 April 2011