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Investigating workplace injuries and illnesses

No matter how thorough a company’s safety plans and procedures are, the risk than a job-related accident can happen always exists. So too can Minnesota workers suffer illnesses related to job environments, tasks or situations. These are some of the reasons that laws exist to mandate reporting and protections for injured or ill employees. Understanding what can and should be done is important for all who work in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry explains that the rules regarding what accidents must be reported changed last fall. Any incident that results in a worker losing an eye, needing to be hospitalized, or suffering an amputation must be reported to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration within 24 hours. Any incident in which a person dies must be reported within eight hours.

OSHA recommends that employers thoroughly investigate all injuries and illnesses, including those that do not require reporting to OSHA. The agency also encourages investigations of situations that did not result in actual illness or injury but could have or almost did. The goal of any such investigation should be to identify potential problems and methods of addressing them so as to prevent any future injuries or illnesses.

OSHA does not use the term “accident” in most cases because it carries with it a connotation that there was no way to prevent it from happening. Instead, OHSA will refer to cases as “incidents”. Investigations should seek to find not just what may have happened but the underlying reasons for certain actions or experiences. Again, the goal is to keep people safe and avoid workers from getting hurt or becoming ill.

 

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