Workers' Compensation Insurance: A Primer for Public Health Centers for Disease Cont and Prevention Author
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Description

The purpose of this document is to help public health researchers and practitioners, particularly those in occupational safety and health, to broaden their understanding of workers' compensation insurance, relevant aspects of the insurance industry records, and the potential uses of that information for public health purposes. Workers' compensation insurance has been established in all states to provide income protection, medical treatment, and rehabilitation for employees who are injured or become ill as a result of work. Workers' compensation claims and medical treatment records along with other information resources have been used to conduct occupational safety and health research and surveillance and to identify intervention needs. Occupational safety and health research and surveillance are essential for the prevention and control of injuries, illnesses and hazards that arise from the workplace. Research and surveillance can fill gaps in knowledge about where hazards exist and what interventions are effective at preventing workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Workers' compensation insurance records are a resource used for these primary prevention purposes. In addition, workers' compensation records may be used for early detection of health outcomes in populations of workers which is part of secondary prevention. They may also be used to help identify effective medical treatment which is part of tertiary prevention. Workers' compensation insurance covers nearly all workers in the U.S. and provides those who are injured or become ill as a result of work with medical treatment, a portion of lost wages, and a lump sum for some permanent impairments. Nonetheless, there are limitations to conducting studies that rely on workers' compensation records since not all injuries and illnesses result in claims being filed. Furthermore, the data that are collected are not readily combined if obtained from multiple sources since requirements vary substantially among the states. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) joined with a number of public and private sector co-sponsors to convene two workshops on the use of workers' compensation data for occupational safety and health. Creation of this document was suggested at the second workshop as a means to describe elements of the workers' compensation insurance programs in the U.S. and the potential to utilize the records for public health purposes. Public health agencies, the workers' compensation industry, trade associations and the state-level programs share interests in utilizing these data to protect workers from occupational injuries and illnesses

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