Worker’s compensation laws have been around for a long time, and during that time they have experienced little change. It is easy to see why there hasn’t been a radical change in the system — it has been effective for years without any real need for innovation. However, as technology advances and the workplace evolves, worker’s compensation needs to change with it.
Even the nature of workplace injury has changed significantly. While in the past you would associate worker’s compensation with grievous injuries caused by malfunctioning equipment or careless operation of heavy machinery, today those collecting worker’s compensation may suffer from something as banal as carpal tunnel syndrome. Understanding how and why worker’s compensation benefits a business in the modern era can not only demystify the system but show where it can be improved in this new technologically powered age.
Lack of Technological Innovation
As the rest of the business world embraces technology that helps make completing tasks easier, worker’s compensation continually lags behind. This stems from an “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude, which will stifle innovation in any industry. While some companies have started to adopt technology to assist with expediting compensation claims, overall the need for progress in the field of worker’s compensation has been largely ignored.
However, that doesn’t mean that innovative technological solutions aren’t being developed, just that the adoption rates of these technologies are still low. Technology is already changing worker’s compensation in small but meaningful ways. Communications with and between employees, workforce training, managing claims, and delivering care are all influenced by technology. Even using simple smartphone applications cannot only assist directly with worker’s compensation claims but also help with prevention of workplace injury in the first place.
The advent of wearable technology also has interesting implications for worker’s compensation. Wearables like FitBit or Apple Watch are currently popular for their personal healthcare management applications, but their usefulness can stretch beyond the personal and into the world of business. Wearables have the potential to monitor whether employees are in a dangerous area on a construction site, track an employee’s health post-injury, and reduce, manage, and prevent workplace illness and injury overall.
How Worker’s Compensation Helps Employers and Employees
Worker’s compensation is an important facet of business in the United States. It not only protects employees but employers as well. While the rights to worker’s compensation were hard fought, many workers and employers can find themselves at a loss as to why it is important to them, especially if their work doesn’t appear to be dangerous from the outside.
Though it has been in effect for decades, many people still find themselves wondering exactly what worker’s compensation is and how it works. While many states have different worker’s compensation laws, the premise is essentially the same across the board: if you are injured on the job, you can file a claim in order to receive worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits are intended to relieve the financial burden from hospital bills on a worker and to ensure that they are healthy enough to continue working without issue.
The benefits of worker’s compensation aren’t solely for the employees, either. Employers rely on worker’s compensation to reduce their liability due to workplace injury with great success. If it is shown that an employee sustained an injury intentionally, were harmed in the course of a fight that they instigated, or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the time of the injury, the employee is not eligible for worker’s compensation claims. Additionally, worker’s that accept worker’s compensation insurance forfeit their right to sue their employer, adding an additional layer of protection for the business.
Safety Should Come First
Regardless of who benefits more from worker’s compensation, workplace safety should be the number one priority for both workers and employers. Two of the most common workplace injuries sustained in the office are slips or falls and repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. Both of these types of injury are easily mitigated through regular cleaning and maintenance of the office, as well as regular breaks for employees coupled with education on proper technique when typing.
Staying safe on the job whether you’re a social worker, construction worker, or surgeon doesn’t have to be an endless struggle; in fact with the implementation of just a few safety procedures, workplace injury can be drastically reduced. Providing readily accessible alarm systems to alert employees to safety risks, secure entryways, and even something as simple as having well-lit hallways are all easy and cost-effective ways to help prevent workplace injury. Additional training for employees also provides another layer of protection, as they will better understand how to take charge of their own safety by avoiding workplace injury.
One way that technological innovation actually shines when it comes to worker’s compensation is through prevention. Head into any office around the country and you will find it chock-full of injury-preventing ergonomic technology from keyboards and mouse pads, to standing desks and office chairs specifically designed to prevent injury. While these small things may not seem like the heroes of workplace injury prevention, their ubiquitous presence contributes to prevention in spades.
While workplace injuries won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, be prepared for them with worker’s compensation insurance and preventative measures is just good business sense. As new technology develops, it will only make the workplace safer as we go, claims easier to process, and fraud harder to commit. All-in-all, as we look to the future of worker’s compensation, adopting and implementing new and existing technology can only help.