Protecting workers is a top priority and it is essential to understand how worker protection laws and strong workers’ compensation programs can reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. Recently, a new study shed some light on this issue.
Conducted by the RAND Corporation, the study revealed that there was a relationship between the number of workplace fatalities reported in a state and the number of workplace injuries reported. However, the relationship revealed the opposite of what one might expect.
Our Durham work injury attorneys know that many workers are injured or killed each year in North Carolina. Understanding why some states have higher numbers of workplace injuries, while others have higher fatality rates is important in order to try to reduce the frequency of workplace accidents. The RAND study reveals some key information that can provide lawmakers with guidance on how to keep workers safer in their own states.
Study Reveals Surprising Link
Researches used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compared reported incidents of workplace fatalities and worker deaths among the different states. The researchers discovered that in states where a high number of workplace injuries were reported, the number of workplace deaths was lower. The inverse was also true: higher fatality numbers were linked with lower injury numbers.
At first glance, this data made little sense. After all, it seems reasonable to assume that if there are more workers getting injured, the number of fatalities would also be greater.
However, a closer look revealed a probable cause for the odd relationship. In states where there are better worker protection laws and more generous benefits for injured workers, workers are more likely to report injuries. They are also less likely to die because the state places more emphasis on their welfare. On the other hand, in states where there are poorer worker protection laws and where workers’ comp benefits are less generous, injuries may not be reported as frequently and workplaces on the whole may be much less safe.
When a worker lives in a state that cares a lot about workers’ rights, he is more likely to take advantage of workers’ compensation programs and more likely to feel confident that reporting an injury is not something he’ll suffer for at work. When that worker reports the injury, it increases the count of workplace injuries in the state. It also gives employers a chance to correct safety problems that led to the incident and it alerts investigators. This all combines to reduce the fatality rate in those states.
On the other hand, if a worker lives in a state that focuses on employer rights and that provides limited protection and limited workers’ comp benefits, then the worker is less likely to report injuries he sustains. This makes the state appear to have a low injury count. However, there are people getting hurt who just aren’t saying anything. Further, employers and regulators aren’t alerted to correct safety violations before a fatal accident occurs – thus leading to more workplace deaths.
This interpretation of the data was supported by the fact that many southern states with weaker worker protection laws had lower injury rates and higher fatality rates. The data thus shows that lawmakers should take steps to ensure workers are protected. Work-injury benefits should be generous and workers must be made to feel confident that they can report their injuries without fear of retribution.
If you were injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your case.