Study Finds Many Eligible Workers Don't File Comp Claims

The vision of barely injured employees filing staggering numbers of workers' compensation claims might serve as a scary warning for some bad-actor employers, but it's not true, according to a new study.

Anecdotal evidence uncovered in a Canadian survey of 2,500 respondents suggests that there are injured workers who do not file for workers' compensation. Researchers said that severity of injury was the strongest predictor of not claiming. Employees with less severe injuries, who were able to file for workers' compensation, did not do so in many cases.

Publishing their results in the December issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, researchers Graham S. Lowe and Harry S. Shannon of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario said survey respondents reported a substantial degree of under-claiming of workers' compensation benefits, "contrasting with public attention on fraudulent over-claiming." According to them, as many as 40 percent of the men surveyed who incurred an eligible injury did not report it.

They suggested policy makers should ensure that employers, employees and treating physicians are aware of their obligations to report work injuries.

"This will create a more accurate picture of work safety," said Lowe and Shannon. "…Rates of injury based on workers' compensation data are commonly used to measure safety performance in individual workplaces." Plus, they noted, overall rates "are used to assess trends, or changes following new legislation or policy."

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