A new report from the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expresses concern that the current condition of state-based workers’ compensation programs is insufficient and may even be contributing to the income disparity in the United States, according to the Chicago Tribune.
OSHA’s report identifies several contributing factors to this escalating problem. Businesses are often not held to the same level of responsibility for the safety and well-being of temporary workers and independent contractors. Statistically, these workers are being injured at a higher rate. Furthermore, 33 states have passed laws that have decreased workers’ comp benefits, made it more difficult to qualify for benefits, and disincentivized doctors to accept workers’ comp patients. This means that workers occupying these already low-wage positions are suffering more physically and financially than other demographic subsets in the workforce.
The income of an injured worker is estimated to be $31,000 less on average over the span of a decade; this figure does not factor in the average expected loss due to medical expenses and rehabilitation, which are now not being covered by many of these programs. The report observes that the “failure of the broken workers’ compensation system [is] truly adding inequality to injury.”
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