When we discuss issues involving workplace injuries, it is often made into an either-or discussion. Either we can have workplace safety or we can have can have low workers’ compensation premiums. Framing the issue this way is wrong because it ignores the obvious connection.
If every employer maintained scrupulously safe workplaces, there would be few injuries and workers’ compensation insurance rates would be correspondingly low as there would be few claims and costs would be minimal.
The problem is many employers are willing to sacrifice their workers to save money on proper training, the cost of safety equipment and the extra time it may take to complete a task when doing it safely.
What these employers want to do is to transfer the risk of injury entirely to the worker or to Wisconsin taxpayers, and use those savings to underbid or under-price other businesses who play by the rules and treat their employees the way they would like to be treated.
When a worker falls from a roof and suffers a career ending injury, no matter the reason for the fall, whether their own negligence or that of their employer’s, the fact of the injury does not go away. They may be forced to into a different occupation, permanently disabled or killed. That fact is unchangeable.
Workers’ compensation promises to provide for them with a defined benefit. Having an organized system of insurance has been seen as superior to leaving them to the vagaries of their injury, with the likely result of their winding up on some type of public assistance.
It also benefits the employer by allowing them to control their costs by operating a safe workplace.
But having a safe workplace and few injuries is still best, as it protects the worker, avoids injuries and deaths and saves employers insurance costs.
Source: osha.gov, “Business case for Safety and Health,” Occupational Safety & Health Administration, site accessed March 2016