Have you ever been injured at work? - I have
Did you report you injury? - I didn’t
I’ll admit it, I have been injured twice at work, and both times I failed to report to my boss or the safety department about the injury. I will also admit that both incidents happened before I became a safety professional, so I think I should get some leeway.
The first injury occurred while I was working as a cleaner in a bakery. It was Christmas time and I was in a rush to leave. I didn’t realize that the metal rack had just been pulled out of the oven, so as I was sweeping around the racks my right forearm pushed against the rack instantly burning and causing second degree burns. At that time, I was proud of myself, I just burned my arm and didn’t even let out a yell, I merely went to the bathroom placed a bandage on the burn and continued working. On this instance I more than likely prevented an OSHA recordable by not saying anything or going to a doctor.
The second injury occurred while working as an environmental field technician. The injury occurred while working inside of a resin tank; the tank serious looked like something out of an alien movie. We did the correct procedure for confined space entry, but this tank was different. It was a top entry tank, but with a narrow opening – just big enough for my size 32 waist (with my arms up, while climbing down the ladder) to get in and no one else in the crew. The process involved hand cutting and scrapping the resin off the walls and agitator of the tank and put into a bucket. Within five minutes of being in the tank I cut my left index finger (through the latex and rubber glove) with the knife. I was not paying attention to the location of my hand in relation to the knife. I felt like an idiot. So, what do I do? I immediately took my glove off apply pressure and wrap the cut finger in the latex glove and continue working. I stay inside the tank cleaning it for the next 2 hours and get a band aid after I get out in which I failed to notify the safety manager. Although a deep cut, this one would have been first aid only, but, it had the possibility of being recordable if a doctor would have put me on restricted duty, which is possible since it was a labor type job that required the use of my hands every day.
Although the stories seem like isolated incidents, the data shows that as much as 70% of injuries go unreported or underreported in the workplace. An estimated 50% of injures go unreported in the construction industry alone. That means either the individual who was injured doesn’t report it or the safety professionals fails to report the injury on OSHA logs. But, there could be a number of different factors.
Although rare, more and more safety professionals are facing jail for falsifying injury data. Walter Cardin was sentenced to six and a half years in jail on 8 counts of major fraud against the United States for not reporting and misclassifying injury data. This falsification in the data allowed his company to receive $2.5 million in safety bonuses from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
One of the goals of electronic recordkeeping is to flush out the information and get a greater sense at the real injury data. Whether that happens, remains to be seen, but any increase in injury data will more than likely create a trigger from OSHA. The best advice is to be as honest as possible for peace of mind and to avoid potential jailtime. Besides training tracking, the STAC system is designed to store and create your OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs based on the injury information. Electronic recordkeeping is the future and the STAC system can give you peace of mind through electronic recordkeeping of injury information.
If you would like to know more about that OSHA logs in the STAC system let me know!
Vice President of Safety & Customer Service