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Public records key to obtaining information on workplace injuries

Public records are maintained in California and around the nation at both the state and federal level. Watchdog groups frequently maintain that the records are critical in ensuring that business and government entities are held accountable in their actions. Recently, an investigation of public records in another state of various workplace injuries underscored the importance of having access to this information.

A reporter began looking into public records after receiving a tip about lawsuits filed against a wind blade manufacturer by several former employees. The workers claimed that they lost their jobs after being injured by chemicals used at the plant. The reporter had to consider the credibility of the information from the workers and also determine if the number of injuries were consistent with the type of workplace, equipment and materials used.

There was also a considerable number of reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA had recorded over 300 incidents of skin injuries at the plant over several years. Information was confirmed by other employees who were not involved in the lawsuits, yet was consistent with what plaintiffs had claimed.

The reporters also accessed unemployment records from the company to identify those dismissed after they were injured. Other records reviewed included those listing the chemicals in use at the manufacturing site and their potential hazards, along with ways to reduce their risks. The company is required by the federal government to report the use of certain hazardous chemicals if they exceed a certain volume.

Workplace injuries can occur at any place of business, no matter what the industry or how meticulous the record keeping of information may be. Everyone has the right to a safe working environment. Should an injury occur on the job, a California workers' compensation attorney can help someone receive the benefits to which they are entitled. In addition, if someone has lost their job following an accident, an experienced lawyer will work with clients to file a wrongful termination lawsuit and seek appropriate damages.

Source: desmoinesregister.com, "Public records key to examining worker injuries at Iowa wind blade maker", Carol Hunter, Dec. 16, 2017

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