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Workers' compensation claim depends on quick, accurate reporting

The date for employers in New Hampshire and elsewhere to become ready to electronically report injury data has been put off until Dec. 1, 2017. The federal requirement of employer reporting of worker injuries in an electronic format is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA first scheduled the regulation to be effective on July 1, but it recently extended the date. While the federal regulations are important in the long run, local workers must remember to report their work-related injuries and illnesses or suffer a denial of workers' compensation benefits. 

Employers with less than 20 employees will generally not be impacted by the regulation. For companies that employ 20 to 250 employees, only certain high-risk industries are included in the mandate. Employers with over 250 employees will all be required to report.

Controversy and doubt have arisen regarding the ability of OSHA to get the regulation implemented. This is due to the changes in the federal government, both at the executive and legislative levels. The trend throughout government right now is to decrease regulatory burdens on the business and industrial sectors.

With that overriding consideration, it has become problematic whether OSHA will have the same agenda or the same staff of personnel in the coming months and years. There is currently no assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health nor has an appointment even been made. Until that happens, it may be difficult for OSHA to initiate enforcement of a rather massive electronic reporting protocol. Businesses, however, are caught in a double bind that requires them to prepare for the implementation of the regulation by the above mentioned date.

Consequently, the value of electronic reporting by employers may end up on a permanent hold. In any event, the New Hampshire worker still has the same duty to report immediately all work-related injuries or illnesses. Despite the federal uncertainty, the necessity of local workers to report all such events immediately remains crystal clear. When a worker fails to timely report a work-related injury or illness, the later filing of a workers' compensation petition may result in the denial of benefits.

Source: businessinsurance.com, "Electronic injury, illness reporting still uncertain despite new compliance date", Gloria Gonzalez, July 5, 2017

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