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Discuss the reasons why some employees in some organizations do not report accidents and near misses and discuss ways that these organizations could improve their levels of reporting.

Unreported accidents and near misses have ramifications for individual employees, organizations, and society.  Unreported accidents can lead to untreated occupational injuries and illnesses.  Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the most common type of occupational illness, affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and other soft tissues and joints (Health & Safety Executive, 2003).  Acute MSD symptoms occur when pain or loss and restriction of movement are caused by a specific event.  Gradual or chronic symptoms may continue or recur over an employee's lifetime and could result in permanent disability.  Initially, the employee's abilities to perform certain tasks or jobs may be compromised.  Long-term, MSDs may adversely affect and employee's entire life, not just his work (Health & Safety Executive, 2006).

MSDs also have consequences for organizations and society.  In the UK, more than one million people suffer from work-related MSDs, which account for about 48 percent of reported ill health (Health & Safety Executive, 2006).  MSDs caused each employee to be absent roughly 20 days annually, resulting in 12.3 million lost working days (Health & Safety Executive, 2004).  According to the Health & Safety Executive (2006), MSDs cost society £5.7 billion annually (1995 prices).

For developing countries, the costs of increasing employee accident reporting are exponential.  Occupational health is viewed as a relatively new field (Bedrikow et al., 1997).  There are few professionals relative to the number of organizations needing their expertise, so employing or training a specialist specifically for an organization can be deemed an unnecessary or unreasonable expense (Ong et al., 1993; Ahasan & Partanen, 2001).  Risk assessment requires at least some rudimentary training and, given the limited research available regarding workplace health and safety in developing countries, can be difficult to complete depending on the industry or workplace.  Because of the limited financial resources of organizations in developing countries, the costs of new safety and personal protective equipment, which do not increase revenue, must be weighed against those of new machinery and supplies, which do increase revenue.  Furthermore, the cost of equipment may be higher because it must be imported from developed countries.  Therefore, organizations may be less likely to purchase safety equipment, which can demonstrate that management is not committed to safety and weaken the safety climate of the workplace (Varonen & Mattile, 2000).

Employee reporting of accidents and near misses is an often neglected aspect of occupational health and safety.  Although it affects individuals, organizations, and society, accident reporting can also be symptomatic of an organization's safety climate and culture or, as in the case of developing countries, other concerns plaguing the society.

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