Federal Report Finds Under-reporting in U.S. Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Bookmark and Share

November 24, 2009

Worker intimidation and other disincentives were two factors identified as contributing to under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report looked at weaknesses in safety and health reporting practices among employers nationwide, and noted widespread incidences of occupational health practitioners who said they were pressured not to record an injury or illness.

Recognizing the importance of accurate data, Maine has taken a number of innovative approaches through the years that have helped improve employer reporting of incidents.

For nearly two decades, the Maine Department of Labor has sponsored free safety and health recordkeeping courses for employers to help them understand OSHA mandated reporting requirements. The class is thought to be the only one of its kind in the nation.

The department has also partnered with Workers’ Compensation to compare recordkeeping data with actual Workers’ Compensation claims to identify areas of reporting discrepancy.

Although the added emphasis on recordkeeping has been thought to contribute to Maine’s higher than average rates of reported incidents, the data has been very helpful to employers in identifying and mitigating workplace hazards. SafetyWorks! also uses the information to target training and consultation resources to areas of greatest need.

SafetyWorks! is an outreach program of the Maine Department of Labor designed to reduce job-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. Onsite safety training and consultation services are available by request and are provided free of charge. All services are voluntary and completely confidential. SafetyWorks! is not part of OSHA and does not issue citations or fines.

For more information about the SafetyWorks! program call 207-623-7900 (TTY: 1-800-794-1110) or visit www.safetyworksmaine.com.