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Federal cuts could lead to increase in workplace accidents

It is difficult to be a Maryland resident and not know something about the infamous sequestration issues in Washington. Yet the details of the potential cuts can be complicated and thus escape many. It is important to know however that some cuts might affect government organizations such as OSHA whose efforts keep the workplace safe for employees. Unfortunately, these cuts could result in an increase in workplace accidents for Maryland residents.

The sequestration involves widespread federal budget cuts, which Congress could roll back, but this has not yet been done. As a result, a number of federal organizations' budgets could be affected, including OSHA's. Such a cut in funding could reduce OSHA's ability to enforce workplace safety, possibly leading to an increase in workplace injuries such as construction site accidents. This could ultimately raise the number of workers' compensation claims in the state.

The cuts to OSHA could mean the organization would institute some 1,200 fewer inspections. This would leave employees less protected and increases the potential for workplace accidents. Without these vital inspections, employers don't have as much incentive to maintain clean and safe working conditions. As a result, more employees could be exposed to injury, requiring medical attention and compensation for medical bills, wage loss and pain and suffering.

With all this in mind, it is also important to understand that workers' compensation benefits are a statewide program. Thus the federal spending cuts will thankfully not directly impact the Maryland workers' compensation program. Workers injured while working in the state will still be entitled to recover the necessary compensation to pay related medical bills and cover wages lost.

Being injured while working is a truly unfortunate event and employers should be required to keep the workplace safe in order to prevent such harm. OSHA is a vital program that keeps employees safe.

Source: Take Part, "Let Us Count the Ways Sequestration Will Hurt Healthcare," Fran Kritz, March 4, 2013

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