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Workers' compensation consistently fails to protect the basic rights of injured and ill workers, most particularly their rights to health, economic security, fair process and to be treated with dignity. Millions of workers across the country face the unjust denial of their claims or unconscionable delays in accessing medical care or wage replacement, with devastating effects on health, well-being, and financial security. Even when workers obtain benefits, these are often inadequate to meet basic needs. Many workers also have to deal with retaliation from their employers for reporting their injuries and illnesses. Additionally the processes within workers’ compensation systems can be exceedingly complex, opaque and dehumanizing which imposes additional strain on injured and ill workers and their families.
With rare exceptions, mainstream discussion of workers’ compensation focuses on the high cost of workers’ compensation and on the issue of workers’ fraud (even though multiple studies have revealed that worker fraud is found in less than 2% of all cases and fraud committed by insurance companies, employers, and medical providers far exceeds workers’ fraud). The current prevailing narrative benefits industry interests and creates an environment unsympathetic to workers. This has the impact of creating a culture of shame that discourages so many injured and ill workers from filing and pursuing legitimate claims. It also makes politically possible the recurrence of anti-worker legislative reform in the area of workers’ compensation.
We need to make the comp system more accessible for injured and ill workers on an immediate basis. We also need to stop the increasingly brutal anti-worker reforms in workers’ compensation. Finally, workers’ compensation is broken and we need proactive and comprehensive reform to build a system(s) that better meet(s) the needs of injured and ill workers. Currently little consensus exists on solutions/alternatives- Should we implement reforms at a state level or a national level? Should we try and reform the existing comp system or at least parts of it? Should we abolish the workers’ compensation system altogether and replace it with a new system? There are endless complications, questions as well as permutations and combinations to consider when thinking of reform in comp. However various reform ideas have been proposed, and should be examined more closely so that a growing consensus may emerge at least on certain basic principles. We urgently need to start moving towards a system that better advances the rights of injured and ill workers.
Overview of Workers’ Comp Hub:
Workers’ Comp Hub is a joint project of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) and National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).
Workers’ Comp Hub provides:
• Basic information for injured/ill workers in all 50 states that might help them navigate the complex comp system.
We invite you to share feedback, resources and tools as well as suggest events and actions for inclusion. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The resources on this site reflect different perspectives (all pro-worker) on the workers’ compensation system and issues that impact injured and ill workers. The views expressed in these resources reflect those of the individual authors and have not been endorsed by NESRI, National COSH, or Workers’ Comp Hub. We hope that these informational resources will facilitate dialogue among injured and ill workers, advocates, policymakers, unions, academics, and others.
Nothing on this site constitutes or may be construed as legal or other professional advice. Workers' Comp Hub does not provide direct services of any kind. All materials on the site are for informational purposes only.
About NESRI and National COSH:
NESRI: The National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), a national non-profit, works in partnership with communities to build a broad movement for economic & social rights. Our Injured & Ill Workers' Rights project uses a human rights approach to address the systemic abuses within workers’ compensation, and to advocate for systems that protect and advance the basic human rights of injured/ill workers. Our Workers' Comp Advisory Committee includes Les Boden, Lance Compa, James Ellenberger, Craig Michie, Joel Shufro, Emily Spieler, and Patrice Woeppel.
National COSH: The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) is a federation of local and statewide "COSH" groups--Committees/Coalitions on Occupational Safety and Health. COSH groups are private, non-profit coalitions of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others interested in promoting and advocating for worker health and safety. COSH groups are dedicated to promoting safe and healthy working conditions for all working people through organizing and advocacy.
If you have any questions or comments about the site, would like to share resources and tools or suggest events and actions for inclusion, please contact us at email@example.com