The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a report discussing the state of workers’ compensation systems and the effects of workers compensation laws on injured workers. That report is entitled Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job. The report discusses several problems caused primarily by a couple of different factors:
- Changes in workers’ compensation laws to provide fewer benefits to injured workers
- Changes in the structure of employment relationships
Our recent blog article discussed how many states have decreased the workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers and made it more difficult for them to received those benefits. As the OSHA report mentioned above notes, these decreased benefits have drastic effects on injured workers and their families.
We’ve seen this firsthand. Our clients find it very difficult to stay above water financially on the limited benefits that workers’ compensation pays. As everyone knows, financial difficulties increase stress. On top of that, pain makes it even more difficult to deal with stress. Injured workers and their families suffer as a result.
The OSHA workers’ compensation report also notes that employers and the workers’ compensation insurance companies are paying very little of the cost of injuries that occur at work. The OSHA reports indicates that employer and insurance companies pay only about 21 percent of the total cost. Most of the cost falls on injured workers. Taxpayers bear almost as much of the costs as insurance companies.
Everyone would prefer that workplaces are safer. Because employers and insurance companies do not pay the cost of work injuries, there is very little incentive for them to keep workplaces safe. Also, many employers now try to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees. An even larger number of employers are using temporary staffing agencies so that they do not have to hire employees.
Employers have less incentive to train independent contractors and temporary workers. They also have less incentive to ensure their safety. As a result, the risk of injury is increased.
The OSHA workers’ compensation report envisions changes that would make workplaces safer. This is the ultimate way to reduce workplace injuries. As an individual, you can take efforts to try to avoid injury at work. You can also help push for workers’ compensation systems that encourage workplace safety. Also, if you are injured at work, you should read our article “Eleven Things You Should Know About Your Workers’ Compensation Case”.