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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [11/16/2009]
Contact Name: Diana Petterson
Phone Number: (202) 693-1898
Release Number: 09-1418-NAT

US Department of Labor welcomes GAO’s report on under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses

OSHA finds problems identified in report alarming

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) welcomes the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) report on the under-reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses and OSHA's audit process.

The report identifies a number of factors that may contribute to the inaccuracy of employer injury and illness records, as well as problems with the audits that OSHA conducts to ensure their accuracy.

"Accurate injury and illness records are vital to protect workers' health and safety," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "They not only enable OSHA to better target its resources and determine the effectiveness of its efforts, accurate numbers are also an important tool that workers and employers can use to identify hazards in their workplaces."

The report identifies worker intimidation as well as a number of disincentives that may discourage workers and employers from reporting work-related injuries and illnesses. The report also notes widespread reports from occupational health practitioners who were pressured not to record an injury or illness.

Acting Assistant Secretary for OSHA Jordan Barab announced that the agency will move swiftly to implement the recommendations made by the GAO. Additionally, in response to numerous studies of under-reporting and congressional interest, on Oct. 1, OSHA implemented a National Emphasis Program on Recordkeeping. OSHA will send inspectors into worksites across the country to review the occupational injury and illness records prepared by businesses.

"Many of the problems identified in the report are quite alarming, and OSHA will be taking strong enforcement action where we find underreporting," Solis said.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.