On Safety

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New recordkeeping proposal: Good idea or burden?

January 22, 2015

Should site-controlling employers record injuries of other employers’ workers? At least one congressman thinks so.

Picture a construction site. A general contractor may be in charge of constructing a new building, and brings in some subcontractors to perform electrical work.

Right now, if a subcontractor employee is injured on a jobsite controlled by a general contractor, as described in our example, only the subcontractor has to record the injury. If a contractor hires only subcontractors to do the work, essentially the general contractor may never have to record any injuries or illnesses, no matter how many subcontractor employees are hurt on the job.

Under newly introduced legislation from Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), this would change. The bill proposes that any employer in charge of a worksite would have to record all injuries and illnesses on the worksite.

This would include injuries suffered by the controlling employer’s workers, as well as workers who report to another employer and are injured onsite. Green has been pushing this legislation for nearly 10 years, having first introduced it following the 2005 BP refinery explosion in Texas City, TX.

Nearly all of the 15 workers killed in that blast were employed by contractors. It’s certainly a good idea to get an idea of how many people are suffering injuries at a single worksite.

But I’m interested to learn what you think. Would requiring site-controlling employers to record all injuries pose too much of a burden? Who should be responsible for informing the site-controlling employer of the injuries – the employee or the subcontractor? Would a single injury be mistaken for multiple injuries, if both a subcontractor and site-controller record the same injury? Is there a better way than Green’s proposal to keep track of the total number of injuries at a site?

Let me know in the comments below.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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