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New Jersey companies have new job injury reporting rules

Bergen County employers must follow reporting requirements when a worker is hurt or dies on the job. Employees or their representatives must let companies know about workplace injuries as soon as possible. The employer is responsible for filing a workers' compensation claim in a timely manner and when an injury is serious or fatal, the employer also must inform the federal government.

Federal injury reporting conditions will change at the beginning of the new year, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Employers will be required to let the Occupational Safety and Health Administration know about work-related fatalities within eight hours and severe injuries, requiring hospitalizations within 24 hours.

Under present reporting rules, companies do not have to report job injuries or deaths to OSHA unless at least three accident victims are affected. Businesses of all sizes are expected to comply. Companies with 10 or fewer employees remain exempt from keeping company illness and injury files.

The Labor Department's announcement followed on the heels of new statistics about job fatalities. More than 4,400 people died in U.S. workplaces last year. Federal officials believe tracking individual instances of serious injuries and deaths will send a clear alert to employers - and the government - about job hazards.

Some critics of the upgraded reporting requirements aren't in agreement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks single hospitalization reports may not be signals of at-work safety dangers. The organization is also concerned about the effects on businesses of exposing single reports online - OSHA's reports are publicly accessible.

OSHA wants the new reporting rules to prompt employers to take immediate action to prevent workplace accidents. A Fordham University employment law professor said the federal change reflects rules that many states have in place now.

Injured New Jersey workers often don't know where to turn after a job accident. An attorney can help secure full monetary relief through workers' compensation or third party sources.

Source: New Jersey Herald, "Feds tighten rules on workplace death reporting" Tom Raum, The Associated Press, Sep. 11, 2014

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