Workers in the United States are guaranteed the right to a safe workplace. It is one of the many rights we have as Americans; yet, for many of us, it seems like a right that doesn’t have the same strength as it once did.
Of course, accidents do happen, even those in the workplace, but most accidents are also preventable. So many workplace injuries occur because an employer or a company created an unsafe work environment. That means that they are accountable for the injuries suffered by a worker.
However, it’s important to understand that when we talk about workers’ compensation, it isn’t supposed to matter who was responsible for a worker’s injury. That’s because workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. It was designed to protect workers from the financial repercussions of a serious injury regardless of who or what caused the injury.
But workers don’t always get the benefits they deserve. Even when a worker is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, they could still be denied benefits if an insurer or employer decides to deny their claim. Additionally, many workers in our country aren’t covered by workers’ compensation at all, like those who are classified as independent contractors, for example.
When a worker is injured on the job, businesses suffer a loss, but their loss pales in comparison to the suffering endured by the injured worker. A workplace injury can be painful, expensive and have a huge impact on the victim’s quality of life.
As more workers in our country are finding they aren’t guaranteed workers’ comp, it’s a great opportunity to look at why we need to strengthen workers’ compensation…
Reason 1 – To Help Those Who Have Been Injured
There are limits on the amount of money a worker can receive in workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, they are limited to two-thirds of that worker’s income and only last for a given period. For those that have suffered the most serious of injuries, that means that the amount of money they earn may never reach the level it did before the injury occurred. That leaves injured workers to face a future of uncertainty and financial hardship.
Reason 2 – To Make Workplaces Safer in the Future
By creating a system that guarantees workers payment in the event of an injury, we’ll be providing incentives for employers to make sure they provide the safest work environment possible. Employers must pay higher costs when their employees suffer injuries on the job, unless the employer can opt out of workers’ compensation insurance altogether. Employers often find creative ways to do this, including misclassifying workers. This brings us to reason number three…
Reason 3 – To Cover More Types of Workers
Workers listed as independent contractors are often misclassified. An independent contractor does not receive the same benefits as an employee, even though their job responsibilities might be very similar. One of the biggest benefits denied to contractors is the assurance of workers’ compensation in the event of an injury. By changing our laws to enforce proper classification of workers, thereby offering them workers’ compensation, we’ll be covering more workers when they suffer on-the-job injuries.
No worker wants to be the victim of a workplace injury. They’re not only painful, costly and debilitating, they also carry the potential to limit current and future earnings. At the very least, we should be sure that those who suffer a serious workplace injury are covered by this system.