What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation systems were established to provide partial medical care and income protection to employees who are injured or become ill from their job. These systems also provide employers incentives to reduce work-related injury and illness. A majority of employers buy workers’ compensation insurance coverage through private insurers or state-certified compensation insurance funds. Larger employers may also have the option to self-insure. These systems are complex and governed by state laws.

Types of workers’ compensation data:

  • Claims Information: Workers’ compensation claims may be filed after a worker is injured or becomes ill due to their job. Claims include the nature of injury/ illness, how the injury/ illness occurred, the type and cost of medical care received, cost of partial wage replacement, the number of days off work, and injured worker characteristics (occupation, age, gender, time with the employer, etc.).
  • Employer Information: Insurers and employers collect data on the types of hazards present in the workplace, safety/ health programs and controls in place to prevent injury/ illness and return-to-work programs to reduce injury/ illness severity.

Currently, there is no central source for workers’ compensation data in the US, though each state government collects some claims information for its private industry, state, and local government employers. The federal government maintains separate workers’ compensation databases for federally-governed employers. Organizations, such as the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), also collect claims information from employers in many US states.

Standardized data coding systems are used for workers’ compensation claims information in many but not all US states. The coding systems differ in purpose, scope, and data elements. NCCI has coding systems for industry risk classifications, injury and event descriptions, and others factors. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Organizations (WCIO) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) have also developed standardized data coding systems used in many states.