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Underreporting of Work-Related Injury or Illness to Workers’ Compensation: Individual and Industry Factors

Fan, Z Joyce PhD; Bonauto, David K. MD, MPH; Foley, Michael P. MA; Silverstein, Barbara A. PhD, MPH, CPE

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: September 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 9 - pp 914-922
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000226253.54138.1e
Original Articles

Objective: We quantified the underreporting of work-related injury or illness to workers’ compensation (WC).

Methods: Using data from 2612 wage-earning respondents who participated in the 2002 Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we assessed work-related injury or illness in the previous year and identified the factors associated with WC claim filing by logistic regression.

Results: The self-reported rate of work-related injury or illness of respondents was 13%. Among those who had a work-related injury or illness, 52% filed a WC claim. After adjustment for age, gender, and race, those who filed WC claims were more likely to be overweight and married. WC claim filing varies considerably across industry and occupation groups holding all other measured factors constant.

Conclusions: Individual and industry/occupation factors are related to underreporting of work-related injury or illness to the WC system.

From the Safety & Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP), Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, Olympia, Washington.

This research was supported in part by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (U01 OH007292) and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

This content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.

Address correspondence to Z. Joyce Fan, PhD, Safety & Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP), Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, PO Box 44330, Olympia, WA 98504-4330; E-mail: fanj235@lni.wa.gov

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine