The Privacy That Keeps Us From Knowing Stuff

Lists of names and addresses of employees injured on the job, as reported to the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, are not open to the public due to personal privacy concerns, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruled last week in Georgiou v. Commissioner the Department of Industrial Accidents.

Workman’s compensation attorneys in Massachusetts had received the lists upon request to the agency on a monthly basis for at least 10 years prior to the agency stopping the practice in 2003.

Employers in Massachusetts are required by law to file with the DIA a “first report of injury,” which details “any injury alleged to have arisen out of and in the course of employment which incapacitates an employee from earning full wages.” All employers in the state are subject to the requirement except certain nonprofit organizations that are staffed exclusively by volunteers.

Until the DIA’s decision to stop providing the names and addresses in 2003, Attorney Peter Georgiou of Cambridge, Mass., had been paying the DIA $20 per month since the early 1990’s to receive the list in order to direct informational mailings — essentially advertisements — about the workers’ compensation process. “I only got names and addresses. I couldn’t tell where the person worked, what happened or the extent of their injury,” he said.


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