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Workers' compensation and the prevention of occupational disease.
Ann NY Acad Sci 1989 Dec; 572:278-281
Several reasons were discussed to support the theory that the compensation system cannot be counted upon to deliver a healthful workplace. First, the problem in the case of certain diseases is particularly great because of the long time lag between the exposure and the first manifestation of illness. Secondly, many employers find that in order to keep their costs down it is cheaper to vigorously defend themselves against litigation than to provide a less hazardous workplace. Thirdly, many employers feel that they may still have to pay for compensation when the worker was not made ill due to exposure at their establishment, indicating a lack of confidence on the part of the employer in the workers' compensation agencies. Many employers are paying for temporary or permanent disability claims for back problems when there was little the employer could have done to prevent them. Similar findings in the areas of heart disease and stress related illnesses are becoming more and more prevalent. Fourthly, many employers do not face a dollar for dollar saving when they reduce compensation costs. Fifth, the average employer pays about 1.5% of payroll for workers' compensation insurance covering both injuries and illnesses. Even a 50% reduction in the insurance costs will save a firm less than three quarters of a percentage point of payroll. This is hardly an incentive. The author concludes by stating that the most significant difficulty in workers' compensation for industrial disease is the underutilization of the system. The core problem here is one of ignorance.
NIOSH-Publication; Preventive-medicine; Occupational-diseases; Legislation; Industrial-hazards; Regulations; Worker-health; Occupational-health
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division