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Poor workplace injury statistics may lead to unsafe workplaces

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks workplace injuries in every state and that information is often used to learn how to prevent such injuries as well as determine whether existing preventative measures are effective. Unfortunately, a joint report of the Michigan State University's Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Michigan Department of Community Health showed that the federal government's statistics on workplace injuries in Michigan may be far from accurate.

The report suggests that the federal process for reporting workplace injuries is not effective, and this might lead to serious consequences. If the government does not have enough information about workplace injuries here in Michigan, how can we know what to do to prevent them?

The joint report found, for example, that the actual number of workplace injuries that result in amputations in Michigan was 60 percent higher than the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which bases its estimates on a sample of employer injury reports, estimated that there were 250 workplace injury related amputations in the state while the local study counted more than 600.

Most of these amputations reportedly involved jobs in agriculture, metal machining and woodworking or woodcutting, according to a Michigan Radio report.

The chief of Michigan State University's Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine contends that all of these injuries, which lead mostly to finger or hand amputations, are preventable. Without proper data, however, it is hard to determine what safeguards need to be put in place.

Whether the federal injury reporting system will change as a result of this study remains to be seen. Injured workers can do their part by filing injury claims with their employers as soon as possible after an incident. This is important not only to ensure the injury is recognized and any necessary safeguards are put into place to prevent future injuries, but also so that one can obtain workers' compensation benefits.

Source: Michigan Radio, "Report: Michigan work-related injuries poorly documented," Rina Miller, March 8, 2013

  • Our law firm in Michigan helps those who have been injured in workplace accidents to obtain workers' compensation benefits. In some cases, it is also possible to hold a third party accountable for the accident and receive additional compensation.

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