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Will electronic incident reporting make workplaces safer?

People who work in companies across Texas may be familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In general, this group monitors workplace safety and cites companies for failures to comply with various safety regulations. After an accident on the job occurs, OSHA representatives are tasked with investigating the work environment, identifying unsafe conditions and issuing a fine to a company for noncompliance.

While this system has been in place for some time, critics argue that the fines and limited response resources from OSHA are not doing enough to actually prevent workplace accidents and injuries occurring in the first place. In order to address these concerns, OSHA recently released a proposal which could have a dramatic impact safety in the workplace.

The proposal focuses on injury reporting practices. Currently, employers are only required to post notices of the injuries that are reported once a year and only in a place that employees can see them. This is not effective, according to OSHA. Instead, regulators propose that companies need to make these reports available to the public electronically and on a more regular basis.

The goal of these changes is to make employers more accountable for the accidents that affect employees. If the information is available to the public and is updated more frequently, OSHA believes that employers will be more likely to take action to prevent accidents from ever happening in order to avoid being known as an unsafe company. This, in turn, would keep workers safer.

Further, OSHA claims, the electronic reporting system would make it easier for the organization to indentify companies where employees may be the most at risk of getting injured. This would make it possible for OSHA to focus more on those companies and less on companies where there does not appear to be a significant threat to workers' safety.

What do you think? Will these proposed changes positively impact Texas workers?

Source: ABC News, "OSHA Plans to Make Workplace Safety Reports Public," Sam Hananel, Nov. 7, 2013

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