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Do fewer reports of workplace injuries mean better safety?

While workers across Colorado should be celebrating that the recorded number of workplace injuries has fallen by 31 percent, many people may wonder whether that is actually something to celebrate. There are people in Denver and all over the country who have reported that an increasing number of employers who will retaliate against employees for reporting injuries. Just last week we brought you the story of three men who claim to have been suspended for taking workers' compensation benefits, but it seems the trend is much more widespread.

Last year alone there were approximately 100 court cases about workers' compensation retaliation in the U.S. As we mentioned last week, when employers retaliate against their employees, it reduces the likelihood that employees will feel comfortable talking about or reporting any workplace injuries.

In other cases, employees are not penalized, but their performance or bonuses are based on a safety record. Although it makes sense for employees to follow company safety procedures and do what they can to avoid injury, a deputy assistant secretary at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has said that most workplace accidents are not caused by employees, but because of unsafe working conditions. Thus, it makes little sense to award bonuses or prizes to employees who have a spotless safety record.

In the end, employers will be held accountable for discriminating against people who report injuries or require workers' compensation. That being said, it is a good idea to understand what your legal options are if you are reporting an injury to a Denver employer. Speaking with a workplace injury lawyer is one place to learn what employers and employees can and can't do regarding workplace injuries.

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

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