Category Archives: Workers’ Compensation

Labor and Employment

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013

Labor and employment issues are covered by a combination of state and federal laws and are important to workers, businesses, labor organizations and governments. NCSL’s resources on labor and employment issues are arranged around six topic clusters: Collective Bargaining, Discrimination, Employee Leave, Personnel Issues, Unemployment, and Wage and Hour. Hot issues for the 2013 legislative session include minimum wage, prevailing wage, right-to-work, unemployment, work-share programs, and collective bargaining. Click below for a list of NCSL labor and employment resources.
Sections include: Unemployment rates, State minimum wages, Employee misclassification, Working families, and three searchable legislative bill tracking databases on key labor and employment issues (collective bargaining, unemployment, workers compensation).

Uncompensated consequences of workplace injuries and illness: Long-term disability and early termination

Source: Robert M. Park, Anasua Bhattacharya, Journal of Safety Research, Volume 44, February 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
► It is well-known that medical costs and lost wages from workplace injuries and illnesses are not fully compensated. ► Another consequence of these injuries or illnesses that can result in inadequate compensation could be long-term disability or early termination of employment. ► This study observed an association between prior workers compensation claims and the incidence rate of long-term disability or early termination. ► Depending on the employers and employee status, such as hourly vs. salaried or union membership, this association could go in either direction.

The Proportion of Work-Related Emergency Department Visits Not Expected to Be Paid by Workers’ Compensation: Implications for Occupational Health Surveillance, Research, Policy, and Health Equity

Source: Matthew R. Groenewold, Sherry L. Baron, Health Services Research, Article first published online: May 13, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objective: To examine trends in the proportion of work-related emergency department visits not expected to be paid by workers’ compensation during 2003–2006, and to identify demographic and clinical correlates of such visits.

Principal Findings; A substantial and increasing proportion of work-related emergency department visits in the United States were not expected to be paid by workers’ compensation. Private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and workers themselves were expected to pay for 40 percent of the work-related emergency department visits with this percentage increasing annually. Work-related visits by blacks, in the South, to for-profit hospitals and for work-related illnesses were all more likely not to be paid by workers’ compensation.

Conclusions; Emergency department-based surveillance and research that determine work-relatedness on the basis of expected payment by workers’ compensation systematically underestimate the occurrence of occupational illness and injury. This has important methodological and policy implications.

An Incentive-Based Approach to Regulating Workplace Chemicals

Source: Jason R. Bent, Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 73 no. 6, 2013

From the abstract:
The United States’ system for regulating employee exposures to hazardous chemicals is broken. Absent regulation, the labor market fails to produce efficient levels of precaution against chemical exposures. Information asymmetries, long disease latency periods, and other characteristics of chemical exposures thwart the market’s ability to produce efficient risk/wage tradeoffs. These same characteristics permit employers and chemical manufacturers to externalize the costs of injuries caused by chemical exposures. The current U.S. regulatory system, including a combination of OSHA regulations and state workers’ compensation programs, is not correcting the labor market’s failure. The result is a level of workplace chemical exposure risk that is systematically too high, and a level of precaution that is systematically too low.

The reforms proposed in the literature to date do not harness the financial incentives of the least-cost information providers and least-cost risk avoiders: chemical manufacturers and employers. This Article takes the search for a solution in a new direction by using state workers’ compensation laws to capitalize on the incentives of chemical manufacturers and employers. The Article argues that state workers’ compensation laws should be amended in two ways: (1) shift the default burden of proof on causation to the respondents, but only in cases where there is no applicable OSHA exposure limit, and (2) allow employers to include chemical manufacturers as respondents in workers’ compensation proceedings for purposes of apportioning liability. These amendments could be implemented by convening a new National Commission on State Workers’ Compensation Laws. The result would be a new push for OSHA chemical exposure limits by chemical manufacturers and employers – the entities in the best position to provide the toxicity and precaution information necessary to support OSHA regulations.

Workers' Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, 2010

Source: Ishita Sengupta, Virginia Reno, John F. Burton, Jr., and Marjorie Baldwin, National Academy of Social Insurance, August 2012

From the summary:
Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, 2010 is the fifteenth in a series begun by the National Academy of Social Insurance to provide the only comprehensive national data on this largely state-run program. The study provides estimates of workers’ compensation payments–cash and medical–for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs providing workers’ compensation.
See also:
Press release

The Effect of State Workers’ Compensation Program Changes on the Use of Federal Social Security Disability Insurance

Source: Melissa McInerney & Kosali Simon, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Volume 51 Issue 1, January 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In addition to traditional forms of private and public medical insurance, two other large public programs help pay for costs associated with ill health. In 2008, Workers’ Compensation (WC) insurance provided $57.6 billion in medical care and cash benefits to employees who are injured at work or contract a work-related illness, and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) provided $106 billion to individuals who suffer from permanent disabilities and are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. During the 1990s, real DI outlays increased nearly 70 percent, whereas real WC cash benefit spending fell by 12 percent. There has been concern that part of this relationship between two of the nation’s largest social insurance programs may be due to individuals substituting toward DI as state WC policies tightened. We first show that this negative correlation between the national series does not hold over time within states, the level at which a causal relationship should operate. We then test for a causal effect of changes in WC enrollment on DI applications and new DI cases within states over time, using state policy (the maximum WC benefit) as an instrument for WC enrollment. Despite a strong first stage fit, we find no statistically significant evidence that WC tightening caused DI rolls to increase, although the standard errors are large enough that we cannot reject effects of substantial magnitude. We conclude it is unlikely that state WC changes were a meaningful factor in explaining the rise in DI during our study period of 1986-2001, although further study using individual level data is warranted.

Workers’ Compensation: Benefits, Coverage, and Costs, 2009

Source: Ishita Sengupta, Virginia Reno, and John F. Burton, Jr. , National Academy of Social Insurance, August 2011

This is the fourteenth report the Academy has issued on workers’ compensation national data. Before the National Academy of Social Insurance began the publication, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) produced the only comprehensive national data on workers’ compensation benefits and costs with annual estimates dating back to 1946. SSA discontinued the series in 1995 after publishing data for 1992-93.

This report provides a benchmark of the coverage, benefits, and costs of workers’ compensation in 2009, to facilitate policymaking and comparisons with other social insurance and employee benefit programs….Key estimates from this year’s report are summarized below.

National Trends:
– Workers’ compensation programs in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and federal programs paid $58.3 billion in benefits in 2009, an increase of 0.4 percent from $58.1 billion in 2008.
– Medical payments decreased by 1.1 percent, to $28.9 billion, in 2009 but cash benefits to injured workers increased by 1.9 percent to $29.4 billion.
– Costs to employers fell by 7.6 percent in 2009 to $73.9 billion. This is the largest percentage decline in employer costs since 1987.
– Workers’ compensation covered an estimated 124.9 million workers in 2009, a decrease of 4.4 percent from the previous year due to the recession, which began in 2007. Aggregate wages of covered workers fell by 4.7 percent in 2009.
– Measured as a percentage of the wages of covered workers, benefits paid to workers increased whereas employer costs fell in 2009. As a share of covered wages, employers’ costs in 2009 were lower than in any year since 1980
– A total of 4,551 fatal work injuries occurred in 2009, which is a 12.7 percent decrease from the number reported in 2008, and the lowest since 1992.

State Trends:
– Between 2008 and 2009, the total amount of benefits paid to injured workers declined in 27 jurisdictions while the remaining 24 jurisdictions experienced an increase in benefit payments.
– Among the 51 jurisdictions (including the District of Columbia), on average from 2008 to 2009, medical benefits declined in 27 states and cash benefits increased in 28 states.

Workers’ Compensation

Source: New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, Volume 20, Number 3, 2010
(subscription required)

Articles include:
Workers’ Compensation in the United States: Cost Shifting and Inequities in a Dysfunctional System by Joseph LaDou

Workers’ Compensation Reform Requires an Agenda… AND a Strategy by Michael B. Lax

Why Are the Workers’ Compensation Systems Dysfunctional? From Scientists We Ought Also to Expect Science! by Sheldon W. Samuels

Workers’ Compensation Reform Policy by American Public Health Association

Social Networking and Workers’ Compensation Law at the Crossroads

Source: Gregory M. Duhl, Jaclyn S. Millner, William Mitchell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-16

From the abstract:
Over the past decade, social networking has increasingly influenced the practice of both civil and criminal law. One way to illustrate those influences is to examine a “system” of laws and the parties and lawyers in that system. In this article, we examine how social networking has influenced workers’ compensation law, looking at, in particular, the intersection of professional responsibility, discovery, privacy, and evidence with social networking in state workers’ compensation systems.

Workers’ compensation laws are no-fault insurance systems designed to resolve disputes efficiently. Consequently, the rules of evidence are often more relaxed and the rules of discovery often more restricted than in state and federal court litigation. The flexible and self-contained structure of workers’ compensation systems provides an ideal backdrop against which to examine how information from social networking sites can be used as evidence to resolve civil disputes.

A state’s workers’ compensation system should use the rules that have traditionally applied to non-electronic information as a starting point to address issues arising from lawyers gathering and introducing into evidence information stored on social networking sites. At the same time, because of the efficiency of workers’ compensation law and the large discretion vested in its judges, workers’ compensation systems have the potential to be laboratories for new technologies and how they can be used in the resolution of disputes, both inside and outside of workers’ compensation.

Workers’ Comp Screening Has Its Risks as Well as Rewards

Source: Fay Hansen, Workforce Management Online, September 2010

While background screening firms are adding workers’ comp checks alongside drug testing, credit reports and court records, collecting information on injuries and claims could expose companies to legal risks, including ADA compliance issues.

ith a prolonged hiring slump still dogging many industries, employment screening vendors are expanding their offerings and promoting new services to boost business. A number of vendors, such as LexisNexis, HireSafe and TalentWise, now include a review of workers’ compensation claims to their list of tools that employers can select to screen job candidates.