According to the newest press release by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of nonfatal workplace accidents is down, yet again. However, as we mentioned in a blog post from earlier this year, this trend of fewer workplace injuries raises doubts. The data that the BLS uses to compute the number of workplace accidents is self-reported, and has long been thought to be too low.
The implications for workers’ compensation law in Missouri are significant.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports Fewer Nonfatal Workplace Accidents
The BLS’ newest press release, issued on November 9, 2017, says that they were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries in 2016. This was an average of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in the U.S. It was also 48,500 fewer reported injuries than in 2015.
Data is Unreliable
However, the data that the BLS reports use is inherently unreliable.
The data is self-reported by the employers of injured workers. This means the employer has a vested interest in not reporting a workplace injury because it could mean their employee receives workers’ compensation coverage. This often leads to an increase in the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premiums, impacting the employer’s bottom line and reducing their profit.
Additionally, the requirements that urge employers to report workplace injuries have become toothless, allowing employers to avoid reporting a workplace injury with impunity.
Finally, even when employers do want to self-report workplace injuries, they often have trouble doing so. The online reporting service that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) unveiled on August 1 has had so many technical problems that many reports have not been finished.
Underreporting in BLS Reports is Nothing New
Despite all of the new issues with the numbers used in the BLS workplace injury report, these problems are not new. According to one study that was published as early as 2014, an astounding 90% of employers did not comply with OSHA recordkeeping regulations, failing to record entire classifications of workplace injuries. However, the number is likely even higher: The study relied on interviews to determine if an employer understood how to record a workplace injury, and more than half of the employers contacted refused to be interviewed. The employers that refused to participate in the study were in industries that had a higher rate of workplace injuries, but these particular employers managed to keep a very low number of reported injuries, suggesting they were also severely underreporting their workplace injuries, as well.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
If you have been hurt at work, you deserve to be compensated for your losses. The workers’ compensation scheme in Missouri is made to rectify difficult situations like these. However, as more and more misleading figures come out, we could see the protections of our workers’ compensation laws slowly fade away as politicians divert resources away from a struggle that is still ongoing.
If you have suffered a workplace injury and want to make sure you get what you deserve, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph. Call us at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.