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Report urges closer cooperation between workplace safety agencies

A report detailing the results of a yearlong study commissioned by the National Institute for Occupational Safety, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that workers in Texas and around the country would be better protected if the three federal agencies were shared more data and worked together more closely to regulate employers and enforce workplace safety regulations. The conclusions were announced in a statement released to the press on Jan. 9.

According to the report, the nation's workplaces have changed greatly in recent years, and new safety issues have emerged, but federal agencies have been slow to respond to these developments. In addition to more cooperation between NIOSH, OSHA and BLS, the chair of the report has called for employers and workers to play a more active role in improving workplace safety.

Workplace accidents and illnesses claim thousands of lives and cost the United States' economy about $250 million each year, but most of the data collected by federal agencies deals with the health outcomes of injured or sick workers rather than the hazardous environments to which they were exposed. The report calls for closer scrutiny of dangerous industries and suggests that a more analytical approach be taken. More effective health and safety training and education are also recommended.

Attorneys with experience in workplace injury cases may be able to assist injured individuals with navigating the often confusing workers' compensation application process. Lawyers could also advocate on their clients' behalf if their claims are denied or their employers argue that their injuries are not work-related. In situations where individuals are hurt due to acts of negligence by their employers so extreme that they amount to a willful intent to cause harm, attorneys could suggest pursuing personal injury lawsuits that seek punitive as well as compensatory damages.

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