Both federal and state-level governments have taken steps to ensure that the United States’ labor force is protected from exploitation and hazardous working conditions. While there are rules governing working conditions, there have also been regulations to address workers’ benefits and wages.
The Importance of Workers’ Compensation
Under workers’ compensation legislature, eligible injured workers receive both medical care and partial repayment of lost income for injuries sustain on the job. This coverage is offered through a benefits plan, with the limitations of an application being influenced by the size and scope of the business. This coverage also protects employers from being sued by employees who were injured while working.
The Eligibility of Workers’ Compensation
There are many variables in determining eligibility for workers’ comp, though the primary factor for companies required to carry it is how many employees are on payroll. There are some smaller businesses and services that elect to carry and offer this coverage to their employees, and an FLDFS proof of coverage search would reveal which employers offer a policy.
State governments determine what coverage is required, and some states dictate where the plan must be purchased. Employers that don’t comply are exposed to heavy penalties from state authorities, as well as the financial burden of settling an accident or injury claim out of pocket. Either of these situations could be devastating for a company.
Workers compensation, considered the nation’s oldest social insurance program, is burdened with issues related to the care and rights of the workforce. Initially introduced as a no-fault program to provide medical benefits and wage replacement in the place of the uncertainty of tort recovery, workers’ comp has seen a significant rise in rates over the years and this is a concern for many business owners looking for effective ways to reduce costs
How to reduce the scope and extent of injuries
There has been sustained and coordinated efforts by many employers to find ways to reduce the amount of injuries sustained in their field of operation. Many service industries rely on safety programs, training and weekly meetings to discuss the “how’s and why’s” that lead to workers suffering both minor and severe injuries and what can be done to keep the number of issues down to a manageable number.
For many workers, injuries are often plain and simply, “just part of the job.” Auto workers fully expect to sustain minor cuts and bruises, simply because of the nature of their work. Restaurant workers expect to get cuts and minor burns because they work around or near hot ovens all day. Office workers expect to get occasional carpal tunnel syndrome because of the repetitive nature of their work.
But serious injuries can and should be prevented. Knowing the dangers associated with certain types of work makes it easier to construct rules, suggestions and methods from preventing them from occurring:
- Don’t lift heavy objects alone; enlist the help of another worker
- Never stack items (such as tires at an auto shop) so high that they can tumble over and injure another employee
- Never put heavy items up on high shelves (for example, in a supermarket) where they can fall and strike a worker on the head or foot and cause injury
- Don’t leave things lying on floors, or near stairways where an employee could have a serious trip and fall causing severe injuries
While this may seem like common sense, the fact is that many businesses allow these types of practices, or don’t realize that these types of behaviors can easily lead to injuries, which can result in a workers compensation claim being filed. While there is no doubt that some workers may make fraudulent claims from time to time, but when a real and serious injury does occur is not the time to consider added safety measures. That is merely putting the cart before the horse.