Workers’ Compensation and Its Potential for Perpetuation of Disability

Chapter
Part of the Handbooks in Health, Work, and Disability book series (SHHDW)

Abstract

Workers’ compensation, in its various forms, was developed as a means of protecting employees, injured while working, from financial ruin. Over more recent years, a secondary purpose of this type of insurance has developed, which is to protect employers from lawsuits by injured workers (Davis, n.d.). In relationship to the history of workers’ compensation, vocational retraining is relatively new, originating in the “human investment” literature that rose to prominence in the 1960s (Mincer, 1962). Pocius (n.d.), however, has noted that returning injured workers to vocational activity has already become “a forgotten aspect of workers’ compensation,” and that by providing such activity should be considered one of several “humanitarian” aspects of the system. According to Pocius, vocational reactivation helps not only the employer and the insurer, but the workers’ compensation recipient as well. This is a perspective from which this chapter is written. It will examine the potential role of workers’ compensation systems in inadvertently perpetuating disability in cases in which doing so is unnecessary. Taking a global view, it begins with a history of workers’ compensation throughout the world, examining differences in systems not only between nations, but between different States in the United States. Some of the primary factors that cause the perpetuation of disability in certain systems are examined. Finally, this chapter examines one particularly dysfunctional workers’ compensation system, with case studies illustrating the perpetuation of disability by the system as a means of highlighting the glaring problems that can occur when a system is neither adequately developed nor appropriately administrated.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Schatman-Robinson Pain Psychology Associates, Foundation for Ethics in Pain CareBellevueUSA

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