Virginia recorded 118 work-related fatalities and approximately 52,600 non-fatal injuries and illnesses in 2020. An employee accident can cause severe injuries requiring extensive, costly treatments besides impacting the victim’s quality of life. When an employee is injured in a work-related accident caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation.
The most crucial step after a workplace injury is reporting the accident to the employer immediately. Quick reporting allows the company to address hazards and provide proper treatment promptly. Doing so also ensures one is complying with company rules and procedures, which is crucial when seeking compensation. Unfortunately, many employees choose to remain silent, so accidents and near misses go unreported. Here are eight reasons workers often fail to report accidents.
Fear is one of the reasons workers avoid reporting workplace accidents. This is especially common in workplaces that cultivate an environment where employees are punished for getting injured. If workers fear losing their jobs, they will likely report near misses (when an accident occurs but it doesn’t appear there is a major injury at that time) and incidents that happen to them or others. Similarly, employees may develop a fear or concern of being blamed for accidents, especially if they have witnessed negative reactions to near-miss reporting in the past.
2. Downplaying the Incident
Not all near misses are severe. Some employees may downplay incidences when the injuries are less severe. An incident can also go unnoticed if it doesn’t result in significant damage. However, symptoms of injuries may not be apparent immediately after an accident. Some injuries develop with time to become major health issues later on. In addition, many so-called minor incidents that go unreported lead to more significant safety issues down the line. What doesn’t seem to be a big deal today may develop into a big deal later.
3. Lack of Knowledge
Some employees may not be aware of the basic procedures for making an accident report. This is primarily attributed to insufficient company policies and procedures that leave injured workers completely confused about what they should or should not do. Company leaders must demonstrate their commitment to workplace safety by providing the right training and accessible system for reporting near misses. Clear company policies and procedures can guide workers in reporting their injuries within established timelines.
Reporting accidents and near misses can be uncomfortable for some employees. When a worker has to choose between being honest and receiving a barrage of criticism and judgment from peers and supervisors, many will remain silent. Employees generally hate being stigmatized for getting into a workplace accident, even if it wasn’t their fault. It is crucial for employers to foster a supportive and collaborative workplace culture that helps employees admit errors without being judged.
5. Complicated Process
If an organization makes accidents and near misses challenging to report, workers won’t be motivated to take the necessary steps. A reporting procedure that has confusing paperwork and a complex process doesn’t inspire people to make their injuries known. In a supportive workplace, supervisors listen to the employee’s account of the incident and then complete the necessary paperwork on the worker’s behalf.
6. Peer Pressure
Under-reporting could also result from peer pressure from other workers. This is particularly true for team projects where members could be linked to the cause of the accident. In such a scenario, some workers may avoid reporting out of fear of social backlash from coworkers. Organizations should simplify their reporting procedures while ensuring it remains as confidential as possible. Additionally, superiors should educate workers about the importance of near-miss reporting and how it impacts their safety.
7. Lack of Support From Management
Workplace leaders play an integral role in the adoption of any policy or system. They are, therefore, central to the success of workplace practices aimed at enhancing transparency. Managers and supervisors hold individual workers accountable while motivating them to uphold company protocols that foster safety. If there is no support from management, workers won’t find it necessary to report their near misses.
8. Quick Fixes
Another common reason for underreporting employee accidents is when the company takes immediate steps to deal with a hazard. In such a scenario, the employees are persuaded they have done more than enough and won’t take measures to analyze the event further. Unfortunately, quick fixes serve to mask an underlying problem. No matter how minor an incident is, reporting them is the best thing to do. It helps managers address the underlying problem and eliminate hazards to make the workplace safe for everyone.
Contact a Richmond, VA Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workplace accidents are a common occurrence in Virginia, with many of them causing injuries that go unreported due to reasons such as fear, peer pressure, etc. However, reporting all workplace accidents and near misses helps companies address hazards and minimize risks. If you have been injured at work, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Unfortunately, dealing with insurance companies can be a daunting task. Insurance companies typically look for reasons to deny or reduce your claim. A workers’ compensation lawyer at Renfro & Renfro, PLLC can help handle the complex parts of pursuing a reasonable claim, giving you ample time to recover from your injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.