NIOSH Center for Workers' Compensation Studies (CWCS)

logo: C.W.C.S

The mission of the NIOSH Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies (CWCS) is to use workers’ compensation data and systems to improve workplace safety and health. The CWCS supports the overall NIOSH Strategic Plan, which focuses on key issues facing different industrial sectors:

  • Reduce occupational cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse reproductive outcomes, and other chronic diseases
  • Reduce occupational hearing loss
  • Reduce occupational immune, infectious, and dermal disease
  • Reduce occupational musculoskeletal disorders
  • Reduce occupational respiratory disease
  • Improve workplace safety to reduce traumatic injuries
  • Promote safe and healthy work design and well-being

With help from partners like you, our main program objectives/goals are to:

  • Determine what caused an injury/ illness: Workers’ compensation claims data can be analyzed to better understand what job factors caused a past injury or illness. This helps find ways to improve workplace safety and health in the future. For example, workers’ compensation claims data may include cause codes (such as “slip/trip/fall”) for each claim. If not, auto-coding methods can be applied to descriptions of the incident (such as “slipped on ice and hurt my back”) to code claims.
  • Identify trends in injury/ illness: Workers’ compensation claims data can be used to estimate the numbers of work-related injuries/ illnesses by cause, industry, or occupation. When linked with employment information (employee counts or hours), data can be presented as rates per full-time employee to compare across industries.
  • Identify evidence-based prevention approaches: Workers’ compensation employer data can be used to understand what safety/ health programs effectively prevent and reduce the severity of past injuries/ illnesses. This helps design more effective systems moving forward.
  • Identify workplace factors that predict future injuries/ illnesses: Workers’ compensation employer data can help develop “leading indicators” that identify workplace hazards and controls that most impact future injuries/ illnesses. Prediction leads to prevention.
  • Share study links using our website: Useful workers’ compensation research is being conducted, but results may never reach people who need to know. One of our goals is to regularly update a list of workers’ compensation studies.
  • Host webinars and workshops: We host webinars several times per year and hold regular workshops to share study findings and bring together those involved in workers’ compensation research or practice.

We encourage workers’ compensation research between NIOSH and external public or private partners. We also act as a “match-maker” to introduce external researchers to other external researchers who have workers’ compensation data and analysis needs.

Several ongoing research groups are being developed to encourage peer-to-peer networking among internal and external partners. If you are interested in participating in any of these groups, please contact us at

  • Surveillance: This group will focus on sharing methods to determine causation in workers’ compensation claims and identify trends by linking claims to employment data on industry and employee counts.
  • Prevention Effectiveness: This group will focus on sharing methods to evaluate how employer, carrier, and state policies, programs, practices, and engineering controls impact workers’ compensation claims.
  • Total Economic Impact: This group will focus on using workers’ compensation data as a starting point to understand the total economic impact of work-related injury/ illness.
  • Disability Management: This group will focus on encouraging the development of best practices for workers’ compensation case-management and return-to-work programs.

For more information about the Center, or to become involved, send an email to or contact the CWCS Director, Steve Wurzelbacher.

Page last reviewed: May 6, 2019