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How Many Workplace Injuries Go Unreported?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

According to a new survey, nearly 1 in 10 workers have decided not to report a workplace injury for fear of retaliation.

This new data suggests that 9 percent of Americans are afraid to report when they are ill or injured on the job because they are afraid of being fired, passed over for promotions, or harassed.

Are that many workers too afraid to say when they're hurt?

Workers Fear Retaliation

Not only do 9 percent of workers with an injury fear negative workplace consequences if they report an injury, but about one-third of those workers have had more than one workplace injury.

The newly released survey found that 3 percent of workers surveyed admitted to having multiple injuries, and still did not report their ailments to management for fear of reprisal.

This is somewhat disheartening news considering that, as a survey reported, more than one in five workers have suffered an injury while on the job.

Serious Injuries Not Reported

And these illnesses and injuries are not just stubbed toes or the occasional flu. The survey found the following injuries to be most commonly unreported:

  • Slips and falls,
  • Repetitive motion injuries/carpal tunnel,
  • Injury from being caught in machinery,
  • Burns, and
  • Workplace violence.

Employers are obligated under OSHA to protect their employees from all of these hazards, but employee silence makes these risks difficult to mitigate.

Should Employees Fear Retaliation?

While retaliatory bullying as a result of reporting an injury may be practically hard to squelch, employees should know that they cannot be lawfully fired in retaliation for reporting a workplace injury.

Workers who file for workers' compensation are protected under federal and state laws from being fired, harassed, or discriminated against by their employers.

There are also protections in place for employees who report safety or health complaints under OSHA, for unsafe workplace conditions that could very well lead to workplace injuries.

To any American worker who is sitting on an illness or injury without reporting it: Don't fear retaliation, the law is on your side. And if you need further assurance, contact an experienced workers' comp attorney near you.

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