Workers’ compensation claims expose hazardous and potentially fatal work conditions and the actions of negligent employers. The record they create establishes patterns of behavior that make it hard for employers to blame workers for safety issues. When workers file claims, they create a path for others to follow suit and initiate positive change in their workplace.
Claims Lead to Actions that Reduce Accidents
Workers’ compensation claims can serve as the foundation for change in a hazardous workplace. These claims identify known safety hazards that need to be rectified. Workers who file claims create internal pressure within the organization to change their modus operandi. They also make it difficult for employers to blame workers and their actions as the cause of their injuries.
Workplace changes can include elimination of known hazards within the workplace, introduction of enhanced safeguards, improved safety warnings, more thorough training, stricter adherence to procedures, and the provision of personal protective equipment and modern technology. What changes are initiated, and how they are implemented, are often a direct reflection of the history of claims filed against the employer.
Claims Increase in Insurance Risk
Employers don’t want employees to file claims because they can lead to increased insurance premiums for the company. These hurt the bottom line and every claim that is field weighs heavier and heavier. This can cause an employer to exert pressure on an employee not to file a claim and pursue compensation for their injuries.
Not filing a claim puts the worker at risk of both subsequent injury and long-term damage from their existing injuries. When a claim isn’t on record, this releases the employer from any long-term obligation for care and compensation. This can leave the worker on the hook for the cost of care, medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished earning potential in the future.
Claims Lead to Better Regulation
Claims data is routinely examined by OSHA and other regulatory bodies. These entities have the power to implement changes throughout a worker’s industry. In fact, if an issue is occurring with significant frequency in one location, it is likely to be happening in other facilities and with other employers.
Claims provide a record of known problems that regulators can use to craft rules and regulations that can reduce injury rates and improve workplace safety throughout the country. Thus, every claim that is filed is an invaluable piece of evidence that is worth more than just a damage award for the injured worker.