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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
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Report: Does the Workers' Compensation System Fulfill its Obligations to Injured Workers?

State-based workers' compensation programs provide critical support to workers who are injured or made sick by their jobs. These programs are a key component of the country's social benefit structure and of occupational safety policy, and the only major component of the social safety net with no federal oversight or minimum national standards.

The department's State Workers' Compensation Report provides an introduction to these programs, but it also sounds an alarm: working people are at great risk of falling into poverty as a result of workplace injuries and the failure of state workers' compensation systems to provide them with adequate benefits.

As the costs of work injury and illness are shifted, high hazard employers have fewer incentives to eliminate workplace hazards and actually prevent injuries and illnesses from occurring. Under these conditions, injured workers, their families and other benefit programs effectively subsidize high hazard employers.