Workplace injuries place an enormous financial burden on workers, their families and the social safety net. When people can’t rely on workers’ compensation and their workplace to pay their medical bills, employment benefits to cover time away from work and other expenses, the impact can be devastating.
This immense financial responsibility puts a great deal of pressure on families who are often already struggling to make ends meet — effectively contributing to income inequality. Many of these families have trouble affording basic necessities, which puts them in no position to increase their earning potential, as they don’t have the means to pursue higher education opportunities or other investments.
A Possible Solution to the Problem
The ideal way to resolve this issue would be to stop workplace injuries and illnesses from happening. Not only is it required by law — it would also free workers and their families from the subsequent financial burden placed on them. Additionally, reducing the number of workplace injuries and illnesses would hugely reduce the amount of healthcare system costs, which totaled approximately $55 billion for work injuries alone in 2012, according to the National Safety Council.
Employers must be required to do everything in their power to prevent workplace illnesses and injuries at their worksites. Some have already taken this step, but others are very far behind. Additionally, state-based workers’ compensation systems must take measures to stop roadblocks that are keeping injured workers from receiving the benefits they deserve in entirety. Presently, those with work-related injuries or illnesses who are able to claim workers’ compensation benefits only receive a small portion of the true costs of their injury or illness.
Major changes must be made to the more-than-40-year-old legal obligation to provide safe workplaces, but this can be done. It will be a long process, but one well worth it.
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