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Study Focuses on Perceived Unfairness Among Injured Workers in Claims Process

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  • Topic: NATIONAL
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A study examining how injured workers interpret and react to adverse effects from work injury and claims processes found that an improved understanding of unfairness in the system and better communication from employers and claims organizations can improve outcomes.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, conducted interviews with 36 injured workers, finding they reacted in a number of ways and stages when faced with “procedural” unfairness: they were passive, they fought back, they quit pursuit of the claim, they quit their job or they won or continued to fight.  

“Feeling confused, angry, frustrated, unsupported, disappointed, determined, optimistic and wary were common emotions,” according to the study, made public Monday and published in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation in the summer.

The university sought “precarious workers,” or “those who earn low or inconsistent wages. Often, they are uncertain how to access work compensation programs or are reluctant to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. The types of injustices faced by workers in the study included being laid off during a claim, receiving inadequate modified work or medical attention, employer claim suppression and unresponsive claim adjudicators.”

The study concluded that “identifying unfairness and its emotional, behavioral and material effects on workers is important to understand implications for compensation systems” and that “understanding and recognizing unfairness can equip employers, legal representatives, compensation boards and physicians to address and prevent it, and provide worker resources.”

Policy changes can ensure accountability and consequences for unfairness, the study found.

Business Insurance is a sister publication of WorkCompCentral. More stories are here.

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