Injured at Work?
Don’t let yourself be pressured into not filing a claim
What to do if you are injured on the job? First and foremost, of course, seek medical attention. And secondly, report it.
But a joint study by the Institute for Work & Health and Prism Economics and Analysis, commissioned by WorkSafeBC, found that between four and thirteen percent of workers who experienced a workplace injury were pressured by their employer not to make a claim.
Researchers distinguished between underclaiming (workers choosing not to make a claim), misrepresented claims (claims submitted as no-lost-time claims when there was lost time), and claim suppression (overt or subtle acts by an employer to discourage reporting of an injury or disease). Of nearly 700 workers surveyed, 58 percent had lost two or more days due to a work-related injury, and of those, 54 percent did not submit a claim.
Underclaiming was more prevalent among nonunion workers, immigrants, those employed by small employers, and those who had less education. The reasons include not being aware they were entitled to make a claim, not knowing how to make a claim, and not thinking it worth their while to make a claim.
Believing they would get in trouble and their employer pressuring them not to apply were the top two reasons given for those who were off work for two or more days but did not file a claim. For those who were away for two or more days whether they filed a claim or not, 13 percent said their employer asked them not to report it and threatened them if they did.
It wasn’t always the employer who was responsible. In some cases, supervisors were the ones doing the claim suppression, contrary to the employer’s policy.
Another notable finding was that claim suppression was higher in workplaces that provided rewards to employees for an injury-free workplace. Over 40 percent of workers who said their employer engaged in claim suppression also reported that their employer provided injury-free incentives.
For employers who did not engage in claim suppression, only 6.4 percent provided incentives. Interestingly, over three percent of workers said they were encouraged not to make a claim by coworkers who were worried they would lose the incentive bonus.
While this study looked at claims to WorkSafeBC, the findings are similar to studies conducted in other provinces. A 2014 study in Manitoba found that six percent of workplace injuries were not reported due to overt claim suppression such as bullying and threatening injured workers. Another 19 percent of workers did not report due to soft claim suppression, where the employer continued to pay their wages even though they were off work because of their injury.
If you suffer an injury at work, make sure you report it. If you need help, or if a supervisor or your employer is pressuring you in any way not to report it, talk to your steward or representative immediately. It is illegal for employers to discourage workers from making a claim, and any instances of such conduct should be reported to your province’s workers compensation board.
Sources: iwh.on.ca, ohscanada.com