The Two-Way Relationship Between Workers’ Comp and Safety
Ensuring compliance with federal or state occupational safety and health laws and regulations is only part of a workplace safety and health professional’s job. Often, safety managers also handle aspects of an employer’s workers’ compensation program. The two aspects of the job have different demands.
OSHA, a federal agency within the Department of Labor, develops workplace safety and health standards that apply nationwide. Despite the fact that approximately half of U.S. states operate under state plans for occupational safety and health, there is a high degree of overall uniformity in workplace safety compliance obligations from one state to the next.
Meanwhile, workers’ compensation is administered at the state level. It shields employers from liabilities for workers’ injuries, illnesses, and deaths while covering the costs of workers’ medical treatments and lost wages or providing death benefits to the surviving spouse and children of a worker killed on the job.
Most states’ original workers’ compensation laws predate the federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, and the provisions of these laws vary greatly from state to state. All states except Texas require employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance coverage.