The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article stating there has been a 31 percent drop in workplace injury claims over the last decade. While that number appears encouraging, there is more to the story. In that same time period, there has also been a 50 percent rise in employer retaliation claims and some government officials worry that many injuries are not being reported. If you have been injured on the job, it is important to report the incident to your employer and seek medical attention right away.
Many employees feel pressure to keep workplace injuries quiet. Some workers worry that if they report an injury, their employer may withhold a raise or promotion. Others feel they may be fired. You should know that federal law bars employers from retaliating against employees for reporting injuries. Additionally, Ohio statutes provide:
No employer shall discharge, demote, reassign, or take any punitive action against any employee because the employee filed a claim or instituted, pursued or testified in any proceedings under the workers’ compensation act for an injury or occupational disease which occurred in the course of and arising out of his employment with that employer. (Ohio Revised Code 4123.90)
If you feel that your employer mistreated you because you reported a workplace injury, you may have a claim. It is crucial to handle employer retaliation and other whistleblower claims promptly; you may only have 30 days to file a claim.
Even if an employee does report getting hurt at work, sometimes the severity of the injury is not fully documented. A 2009 study from the Government Accountability Office reported that more than a third of health practitioners were asked by management to provide workers with treatment that wouldn’t require a formal report. If you do get injured at work, don’t try to “play it down.” Be honest with your healthcare provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Contrary to popular belief, programs for maintaining safety records don’t always improve safety. When an employer institutes a safety policy that provides bonuses or prizes to groups, it can create peer pressure not to report workplace injuries.
Source: “Workplace Injuries Drop, but Claims of Employer Retaliation Rise” by James R. Hagerty, The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2013.