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Should You Make Reporting Injuries in the Workplace a Priority?

23rd April 2010
By Carmela Martin in Personal Injury
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Recently, the State requested an explanation from a company that manufactures plastic about why it did not report workplace injuries to the State's Workers' Compensation Board, which could result in their being fined upwards of $52,500. An investigation of the firm by the state revealed that it had not reported a minimum of twenty-one injuries in a timely fashion. Legally, a company is required to report an injury within ten days.

The plastics firm was formally requested to deliver proof in court that it had indeed complied with state law by properly disclosing these injuries to the Board. However, evidence showed that several cases were a year old and still hadn't been reported properly, far surpassing the ten day limit. No one company, it seems, has ever been subject to such a severe serving of discipline.

The lawyers serving the board had even done research into attempting to find other companies that had been faced with this situation before, but they could find none since the passing of the law. Lawyers representing the plastic manufacturer also failed to locate another case. This was a lawyer who actually specialized in Worker's Compensation Law.

To date there has been no comments issued concerning the allegations from any of the board members. The human resources manager of the company under investigation stated that the company was happy that the hearing would bring a resolution to the issue. Still, the case represents a chance to further examine the elements involved and what has been discovered thus far should lead to a satisfactory ending.

The workers and the unions feel that these incidents need to be reported to all of the proper authorities including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in addition to the Worker's Compensation Board. Numerous people see the firm's actions as a method of beating the system in order to obtain a financial advantage. On the occasions when a worker's injury prohibited him from working, the plastic manufacturer paid him for that lost time and paid his medical costs.

A lawyer employed by the United Steelworkers of America stated that the under-reporting of injuries sustained while on the job permits companies to circumvent a full scale examination and the cost of paying workers whose injuries may recur over the course of as many as thirty years. Injury reports dating as far back as 1994 were filed after these accusations were levied, totaling sixty new non-related cases. The company stipulated that some of these cases ought to have been reported sooner, but stated that there had been a misunderstanding of the reporting requirements.

The company will be assessed a $2,500 fine for each injury that went unreported for more than ten days, if in fact the Board determines that the business broke the law. Criminal charges could also result, in addition to the monetary penalty. The Workers' Compensation Board sent the matter to the attorney general's criminal fraud division for consideration.

An investigation is ongoing regarding allegations of under-reported injuries, including the most recent of four cases of workers who lost all or a portion of their fingers while working at the plant.

A former employee has alleged in a $350,000 lawsuit that the firm canceled her health insurance while she was on Workers' Compensation as they at the same time were taking her payments for the premiums.

Based on their findings at this one plant, the Director of the United Steelworkers of America has justified a further, corporate-wide investigation of the company and all of its holdings. The manufacturer operates four additional plants in the states of Illinois and Indiana.
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