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Report: Michigan work-related injuries poorly documented

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Dr. Kenneth Rosenman says the current federal system for reporting work-related injuries is not working.

Rosenman is chief of  Michigan State University's Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He says a joint report with the Michigan Department of Community Health found the number of amputations resulting from on-the-job injuries were more than 60 percent higher than the official estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The current federal system is broken," Rosenman says. "It's one thing to say, 'Okay, well it's not totally right, it's missing a certain percentage.' But to be missing 60%?"

Rosenman says the current system based on a sample of 5,000-6,000 employer reports counted 250 work-related amputations in Michigan.

"We found over 600," Rosenman says.

He says workplace injury reporting should be no different than that used for other public health issues, such as cancer or HIV.

"Emergency department and hospitalizations are reviewed, and the information about that injury is obtained from the medical record," Rosenman says. "Sometimes if there's not enough information in the medical record, the individual will be called, and that's the way the information is collected."

Rosenman says most of the amputations in Michigan involved fingers and hands. Most happened in jobs that involved woodcutting or woodworking, metal machining and agriculture.

"These are all preventable conditions if you have the right guards, the right work practices and the right controls. We need to know this information so we know what kind of resources should be put into prevention, and to know if our prevention programs are successful," Rosenman says.