Data indicates that Minnesota work injuries are trending down. While that is a positive, it should also be taken with a grain of salt. The reality is that reports of work injuries have gone down, but not all work injuries may be reported. In fact, there’s good reason to believe that many work injuries go unreported.
A few recent incidents highlight the lengths that some employers will go to in order to prevent employees from filing workers’ compensation claims. Amazon, which has locations in Minnesota, has been accused of mishandling warehouse worker injuries. According to one article, OSHA found that Amcare, Amazon’s on-site medical unit, has minimized the severity of some workers’ injuries, treating them in-house instead of sending them to a doctor or hospital as required.
Another article details how UPS improperly handled one worker’s serious injuries, and explained that workers fear reprisal if they report on-the-job injuries. Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service is the subject of ongoing lawsuits due to allegations that it systematically terminated about 44,000 people who suffered occupational injuries, as reported by Propublica.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. Retaliation against workers who file workers’ compensation claims is all too common, despite it being illegal. Many workers choose to suffer in silence or not report their injuries for fear of losing their livelihood. They miss out on the medical treatment and other benefits they are entitled to by law because of unscrupulous employers.
There are other reasons why employees might not report work injuries as well. They may feel a sense of duty to their employer to protect them, although this is the very reason employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. They may fear appearing weak or that they are trying to take advantage of the system. They may simply not understand the severity of the injury and work through it in hopes that it will go away. Many workers work through the pain and let injuries linger or even worsen in the process.
Whatever the reason, injured workers should be aware that workers’ compensation law entitles them to benefits, and that there are those of us out there who are willing to fight to make certain they are treated fairly and not abused by unscrupulous employers.