Thursday, January 8, 2009

Workers' Comp and the Prevention Mandate

As noted in an earlier post, the degree to which the Prevention or OH&S mandate is part of the workers' comp system varies from simple allignment to full integration. One determinant of where along this range a particular workers’ compensation jurisdiction will fall is the percentage of the labour force within the scope of workers’ compensation coverage. Using data from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (, the accompanying table and graphic illustrate the range of relationships for the Canadian jurisdictions.

The higher the percentage of coverage, the greater the likelihood the workers’ compensation authority will play an important role in prevention. This axiom holds in general for sub-national systems where the authority for workplace safety and health is constitutionally aligned with state or provincial powers. Parallels may be found in Australia, for example, where states such as New South Wales and Victoria have authorities that share the compensation and OH&S roles [see and ]. Although occupational health and safety is a federal responsibility in the US [see ], state agencies do exist. In the case of Washington State, the Department of Labor and Industries has both the state OSHA function and responsibility for workers’ compensation either directly or through oversight of the self insurance part of the system [see ] .

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