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OSHA Confirms that Workers Have Not Been Helped by Workers Comp. Reforms

In a recent Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog post, we wrote about an NPR and ProPublica probe that found that recent workers’ compensation reforms are hurting more than helping injured workers. Now, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued its report that reflects similar findings.

According to OSHA’s report, statistics show that over three million workers are hurt every year, with thousands killed while doing their job. These figures do not include incidents that go unreported and chronic illnesses that continue even after exposure on the job to hazardous substances has stopped.

Many workers who were seriously hurt find it hard to keep working—especially as modifications to workers comp. insurance programs have made it harder for someone who was hurt on the job to get full benefits. Employers are now taking care of just a small portion of overall workplace injury and illness costs through their work injury compensation programs.

Even with work injury benefits, a workers’ salary is significantly lessened than if they had never been hurt. Family members, who contributed to the household income, may have to lower their work hours and pay to care for a disabled or catastrophically injured loved one. Not to mention there are the emotional toll, depression, stress on the family marital stress, and other health issues that can occur from such anxieties.

OSHA’s report notes that low-wage workers are worse off than the average worker under the current system, in part because they may not be aware of their rights or fully understand English. Fear of losing a job is also a reason cited by injured immigrant workers for not reporting their work injury. Then there are the workers with occupational illnesses, who may not realize that their chronic disease is job-related or did not figure out the causal connection until after they are no longer employed.

The misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor, who may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, is another common issue. Hiring contractors may make an employer more lax about safety regulations and compliance, which increases the chances of work injury. Temporary workers, injured on the job, are typically entitled to less medical benefits and time loss reimbursements than employees. That these workers are also more at risk of injury, due to inadequate training, and unfamiliarity with workplace hazards, becomes their problem rather than that of the employer.

Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation

State workers’ compensation systems are supposed to benefit both workers and employers. Under the “no-fault” system, workers cannot sue an employer. Theoretically the latter is supposed to provide work injury benefits regardless of who or what was at fault. Unfortunately, there have been incidents in which an employer and its insurer may seek to deny a claim, contending the injury or illness is not work-related.

In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston workers’ compensation law firm today. Now more than ever, injured workers need a legal team advocating on their behalf, protecting their legal rights and making sure that they get all of the work injury benefits to which they are entitled.

OSHA

Read the Report: “The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job, DOL.gov (PDF)

 

More Blog Posts: 

Workers’ Compensation “Reforms” Are Hurting Injured Workers, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, March 7, 2015

Why Returning to Work May Be a Hassle, According to GENEX Study, Boston Injury Lawyers Blog, August 12, 2014

Today is the Day Lead Singer Injured in Massachusetts 15-Passenger Van Crash, November 30, 2014

 

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