OSHA Adds Evidence to Workers’ Comp Crisis: Injuries Cause Social Inequality, Taxpayer Burden
Chris Welsh, Esq.
The evidence of the destruction and disappearance of the workers’ compensation system is mounting, The verdict? Families of injured workers and taxpayers bear the majority of the cost, financially and socially.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), the federal agency that oversees the health and safety of America’s workers, has released a report on the dire conditions of the current workers’ compensation system. The agency’s report comes just after the release of another investigative report on the issue by NPR and ProPublica.
All three entities’ investigations reveal much of the same: the timeless care compact between employers and their workers has shriveled away.
Despite the age-old agreement and standard that employers provide a safe work environment and compensation for work injuries and lost wages, employers now provide as little as 20% of the overall cost of workplace injuries and illness. What’s more, over three million workers are injured on the job every year. In 2013, 4,405 died on the job (OSHA).
These statistics belong in the dark ages of industry and workers’ rights. In 2015, this shouldn’t even be an issue–so why has the workers’ compensation insurance system dismantled?
A variety of factors have contributed to these changes, making for a perfect storm. To start, an imbalance between lack of federal oversight and new, restrictive state laws has been a dangerous trend. Without federal oversight, state workers’ comp “reform” laws have made it extremely difficult for injured workers to qualify for wage replacement and coverage for medical costs. OSHA also found that workers are being mischaracterized as independent contractors or increasingly hired temporarily, a classification that–on paper–drastically reduces the employers’ responsibility to workers’ insurance.
The costs of these bureaucratic changes is heavy to say the least. Left without adequate compensation for injuries they have suffered on the job, workers are left to bear all the consequences of their life-changing injuries. With little to no income or ability to work and families to feed, they turn to social security and food stamps. Ultimately, OSHA reports, this adds inequality to injury. Middle class workers are pushed into poverty and out of their homes. Lower-wage workers are denied opportunity to ever reach the middle class.
If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Reach out to an attorney immediately to discuss your options. By delaying, you may unknowingly forfeit your right to sue by overrunning the legal time limit, also known as the statute of limitations.