by Alissa C. Atkins, Esq.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a report entitled “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job.” OSHA contends that the workers’ compensation system is broken, resulting in workers bearing the cost of their own work-related injuries and illnesses. The article concludes that work injuries prevent families from being able to realize the American dream by creating financial hardships from which injured workers cannot recover. OSHA proposes that the solution is to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses from occurring in the first place. OSHA also requests that each state’s workers’ compensation program work to eliminate roadblocks which prevent workers with compensable injuries from receiving compensation.

OSHA alleges that many groups of workers opt not to even report work-related injuries, citing immigrant workers who have not filed for workers’ compensation out of fear of losing their jobs. The article concludes that the workers’ compensation system provides unsatisfactory assistance for low wage workers, to include job security, a lack of awareness of their rights, or limited ability to speak and understand English. OSHA concluded that fewer than 40% of eligible workers ultimately apply for workers’ compensation benefits.

The Georgia Workers’ Compensation System remains strong, however, and workers are in fact provided proper care rather than being forced to bear the cost of their injuries or pass them along to taxpayer supported relief. When the system works as intended, the legitimately injured worker should not have any out-of-pocket expenses.