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Cambridge-Based Researchers Claim Fostering Workplace Trust May Improve Outcomes for Employees Who Are Injured at Work

According to research that was recently conducted by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute (“WCRI”), whether a worker fears losing his or her job following a workplace injury has a dramatic effect on both the employee’s outcome and an employer’s workers’ compensation costs.

As part of their study, WCRI conducted interviews with nearly 5,000 employees in 12 states who were injured at work in 2010 or 2011 and subsequently collected workers’ compensation payments. Researchers found that workers in Massachusetts and 11 other states were more likely to collect workers’ compensation benefits for a longer period of time if they feared being terminated after an on-the-job injury than individuals without such concerns. The same employees were also more likely to report difficulty accessing appropriate medical care and dissatisfaction with the health care provided to them. Researchers also claim that up to 33 percent of the employees surveyed feared being fired due to a workplace injury. In addition, workers who had a more trusting relationship with a supervisor were less likely to fear being terminated over an accident at work.

The study authors stated that the information obtained could mean a difficult relationship with a supervisor provides a worker with significantly fewer opportunities to return to work, or an employee may be overly pessimistic and perceive the situation as being worse than it actually is. Also, poor outcomes may somehow distort a worker’s viewpoint regarding whether he or she may be fired. Prior WCRI research showed that almost one-quarter of employees who feared termination retained the services of a workers’ compensation lawyer.

One company has reportedly been successful in reducing its workers’ compensation costs by utilizing organization-wide practices designed to facilitate trust. For example, the company instituted a code of conduct that provides employees with the opportunity to report violations without fear of repercussions. Company workers’ compensation claims adjustors are also held accountable for how they treat injured workers. In addition, employees are apparently encouraged to point out potential safety hazards and are provided with transitional duties following an on-the-job accident. Finally, the company maintains a triage nurse on site at all times in order to ensure a hurt worker receives immediate care following an accident. By doing so, the business can avoid unnecessary and expensive doctor visits where appropriate.

WCRI researchers believe robust safety policies, early intervention, return-to-work programs that are focused on the needs of injured employees, and access to health care can help employers reduce workers’ compensation expenses by fostering a workplace environment that is based on trust.

If you were injured at a Boston workplace, you should discuss your right to recover compensation for your harm with the seasoned workers’ compensation attorneys at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. Our hardworking lawyers are available to help you recover the benefits you may be entitled to following a work-related accident. To speak with a caring Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your situation, give Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. a call at 800-367-0871 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Workers’ Compensation and the Cost of Mistrust, by Richard A. Victor,

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