Workers Compensation Attorneys Ask: What Are the National Costs of Workplace Accidents and Illnesses?
Workplace accidents and illnesses are so commonplace that we hardly stop to think more about what they might be costing our nation. According to data from various federal agencies, the yearly cost to American businesses in terms of lost time due to workplace injuries and illnesses added up to $62 billion, which is greater that the gross domestic product or GDP of 91 countries. That’s more than a $1 billion loss each week over disabling workplace injuries and illnesses.
Significant Costs to All Involved
So, what causes the most number of work-related injuries that lead to disabilities? Data shows that overexertion is the number one cause of serious and disabling workplace injuries, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the total. There are a number of costs that arise when a worker is injured or ill. First and foremost, these situations pose a serious physical, emotional and financial burden for workers and their family members.
They also pose financial challenges for employers, who (through their insurance company) are required to pay all medical expenses related to the workplace injury as well as a portion of the worker’s lost income. While these are the direct costs, there are also indirect costs such as the need to hire temporary workers to replace injured workers, lost productivity, and in many cases, bad PR or loss of reputation for the company.
Workers and Taxpayers Are Paying the Price
Recently released reports show that injuries caused by workplace accidents are sending U.S. workers deeper into poverty. Modifications in states’ workers’ compensation programs are making it more and more challenging for workers to get much-needed benefits when they are injured, such as adequate coverage for medical costs they incur. Employers end up providing a mere 20 percent of the total financial cost of workplace injuries according to a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). So, taxpayers end up subsidizing the cost of workplace injuries.
In many ways, workplace injuries are also contributing to income inequality. Also, when employers utilize contractors and temporary workers to replace injured workers, companies lose the incentive to enhance workplace safety because they know they have a backup workforce. This leads to dangerous working conditions for temporary workers and contractors because often, they are not provided with adequate safety training or personal protective equipment on the job.
Recently, 33 states passed workers’ compensation laws that have diminished benefits or made it more challenging for workers with certain injuries and illnesses to qualify for benefits. The report also found that insurers and employers have more control over medical decisions such as whether or not an injured worker might require surgery or certain treatment procedures.
Fighting for Your Rights
As Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers, we fight for the rights of injured workers and their families. We strive to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses so you can take care of yourself and your family during this extremely challenging time. Workers’ comp laws certainly don’t make it easy or convenient for injured workers to obtain compensation. This is why you need an experienced lawyer on your side who will help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.