The good news is that OSHA has reported a drop in workplace injuries and illness for the 12th time in 13 years. While the numbers show a bright spot in worker safety and industry awareness, the numbers are still too high.
There were a total of 2.9 million reports, which comes to roughly 3 of every 100 workers. It's the lowest rate since 2002. Though OSHA is pleased with the decrease, there are questions about the accuracy of their findings and the reasons for the drop. As a whole, the federal agency is pleased with the numbers, but notes there is room for improvement.
Is there a decrease in work?
Any statistic based report is dependent on the numbers, and some of the country's more dangerous industries, like oil and gas, were less prominent in 2015. A significant change in these industries can tilt the numbers.
Following similar logic, less work in these industries means a less stressful work environment, which can make a worksite slower paced and safer as a result. It's a good thing, but it means there are external factors differentiating 2015 statistics from 2014.
Is the reporting accurate?
There has been an increase in retaliation complaints by industry whistleblowers in recent years. One possible consequence of this shift in employer-employee dynamics is a lack of trust and fewer complaints. Based on reported incidents alone, the workplace is getting safer year after year but it's possible that workers are underreporting their injuries to avoid retaliation.
Safety in leadership
In the report's findings, most employers have improved conditions and safety awareness. Violations often come from a minority of dishonest companies instead of reflecting a wider cultural attitude. It's a positive message that suggests further improvement and investments in safe infrastructure.
Safety in the workplace begins at the top. Employers need to offer proper training for dangerous environments while doing everything in their control to reduce your risk. This means removing tripping hazards, providing safety rails or nets, supplying equipment like helmets, gloves or masks, and other protective measures that make a risky setting safer.
If your workplace isn't doing all it can to ensure your safety, you have rights as a worker and your company can't punish you for speaking up. An experienced employment law firm can help review your case and determine if there are safety violations, if you're eligible for workers' compensation or if your employer was negligent in case of an injury.
The law supports workers but sometimes you have to speak up to get your rightful treatment. OSHA and employment firms want to foster a safer environment to make sure that employers do everything they can to protect you.