The countries most popular legal information site, FindLaw.com, has conducted a survey about reporting on the job injuries. It found that nearly 10% of Americans have been injured on the job, but did not report it, for fear of retaliation. The retaliation, such as fear of being fired or other negative impacts on their career, was the most significant reason people gave for failing to report on the job injuries, according to the survey.
This is a major problem for both employers and employees throughout the country. If employees do not feel safe reporting injuries, it will only result in more people getting hurt, and problems being covered up rather than fixed. In fact, the survey found that 3% of people have been injured more than once, and still didn’t report it for fear of negative impact on their career.
A Problem that Can’t be Ignored
There were more than three million reported workplace injuries in the US in 2012, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that, according to the data from the survey, about 300,000 injuries occurred that were not reported, and possibly more since some people don’t report injuries for reasons other than fear of negative consequences.
This is a significant number of unreported injuries, and it doesn’t just cause hardship for the injured employees. Most accidents and injuries at work occur due to preventable situations. If a company is not notified of the injury, however, they can’t investigate the problem and attempt to prevent additional injuries from happening. This exposes the employees to more risk, but also harms the company in the long run.
The Problem of Unreported Injuries
From the employee’s point of view, the problem is quite obvious. They are getting injured, and don’t have access to proper care. In addition, they continue to be exposed to the risk that caused the injury in the first place, not to mention the added stress of having to hide an injury.
The employer, however, is also experiencing negative consequences from these unreported injuries, even if they don’t know it right away. When employees are hurt, they won’t be able to perform as well at their jobs, which will cause decreased efficiency. In addition, employees who feel that they can’t report problems at work will not be as engaged at their job, resulting in poor performance even when they are healthy.
Another potential risk to the employer is that if multiple people are getting injured, and failing to report it, it may expose the company to law suits. The employees may have a case that they are in an unsafe work environment, and the employer is not fixing the problem. Of course, when employers don’t know about the issues, they can’t fix them, but that doesn’t always matter in an expensive legal case.
What can be Done
Employers need to takes steps to ensure their employees always feel comfortable reporting injuries at work, no matter how big or small they may be. This starts by ensuring all the managers know that there can be absolutely no negative repercussions for reporting an injury at work. While this should seem obvious, it is a bigger problem than many employers would like to believe.
Having a procedure on how workplace injuries should be reported is also a good idea, because it will help ensure that everyone is aware of the process. It also aids in tracking the injuries, so any repetitive problems can be properly investigated to see what the root cause of the injuries really are. By identifying exactly what is causing injuries in the workplace, steps can be taken to help prevent them in the future.