How Can Workers’ Compensation Systems Promote Occupational Safety and Health?

from RAND Research Topic: Health and Health Care at on August 31, 2018 at 11:16PM

Stakeholders involved in workers’ compensation systems have long voiced concerns about the extent to which workers’ compensation serves to promote occupational safety and health (OSH) and the well-being of injured workers. However, it is not clear how much consensus there is about the specific challenges to OSH and worker well-being in the workers’ compensation system or how to address those challenges.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requested that RAND explore the beliefs and priorities of key workers’ compensation stakeholder groups about system challenges and research priorities that, if addressed, would be most useful for reforming workers’ compensation systems to promote OSH and the well-being of workers. To address these questions, RAND conducted a literature scan to identify published criticisms of current workers’ compensation systems, focusing on the implications of workers’ compensation for workers’ safety, health, and economic well-being. After producing a compendium of such critical perspectives, RAND then convened a series of conversations with selected representatives from five key stakeholder groups: workers, employers, claims administrators, state agency leaders, and occupational health care providers.

The findings of this study can be organized into three groupings. First, major themes were distilled from published critiques of workers’ compensation policy. Second, stakeholder perspectives on the most important system challenges were gathered. Third, policy solutions and research needs suggested by stakeholders were identified. In general, stakeholders agreed with the published critiques but placed a greater emphasis on concerns about health care delivery, return to work, and injury prevention.

The research described in this report was prepared for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and conducted by the Justice Policy Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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