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Reporting window for fatal workplace accidents reduced by feds

If you've ever suffered a work-related injury then you know what goes into the process of documenting and reporting an accident. It's an oftentimes laborious process that includes numerous questions about the injury and how it occurred. Despite the tedious nature of these questions, they serve a two-fold purpose: establish eligibility for workers' compensation benefits and whether an OSHA investigation is necessary.

But as some of our California readers know, immediate reporting of a workplace accident doesn't always happen. Even worse still, some work-related injuries go unreported altogether. Aside from preventing you from getting the benefits you deserve, failing to report a workplace accident can impact other things, including the federal government's ability to hold unsafe employers accountable for their negligence.

That's why workers across the nation may be excited to hear that the federal government recently changed the reporting window for workplace accidents. In the past, employers only needed to report fatal workplace accidents if three or more employees were killed or hospitalized. Now, starting the first of next year, if a serious workplace accident results in the death of even just one worker, the employer will be responsible for filing a claim within eight hours.

If the worker receives a severe injury that requires hospitalization but survives the near-fatal accident, the time window is extended to 24 hours.

Because prompt reporting can lead to prompt investigations, the hope is that the new regulations will significantly reduce workplace injuries by identifying unsafe employers before more workers are injured or killed. It's worth pointing out though that changes such as this require time before results are visible, which means our readers may not see the fruits of the law's labor until later on down the road.

Source: PBS, "Feds issue new regulations on reporting fatal work injuries," Tom Raum, Sept. 11, 2014

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