Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Workplace deaths underreported

OSHA reports concerning workplace deaths are not complete. A number of such deaths - including the death of a Pennsylvania steel mill worker - were left off of the list. OSHA acknowledged that not all fatalities have been reported, but a spokesman stated that efforts were being made to improve upon the reporting and tracking of such fatalities.

Some of the absences in the listing are a result of companies failing to report fatalities along with OSHA lacking the procedures or protocol to check up on such missing data. One company, whose work record for fatalities was poorer than that for many other companies, simply withdrew from participating in the OSHA reporting program.

It was noted that certain work related deaths at oil refineries remained unreported. Though OSHA has targeted this industry for inspections, businesses already in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (OSHA VPP) are not required to be inspected. In the meantime, seven workers have died since 2007 in work related accidents at refineries exempt from inspections. Similarly, workplace fatalities in chemical plants have also occurred during the same period - including manufacturing facilities exempt from OSHA inspections.

OSHA is doing all that it can, but its resources to create a completely safe work environment are limited. With its effort to provide an overall picture of how many fatalities occurred in the various industries every year, individual situations involving workers' fatalities are sometimes missed. Sometimes legal counsel experienced in the workplace injury area can provide guidance to injured parties and to families. If industries are held accountable for workplace deaths, the incentive is also there to make their workplaces safer.

Source: i watch news, "OSHA acknowledges database of fatal accidents incomplete," by Chris Hamby, Nov. 5, 2011

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