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Feds set up 'surveillance' to improve workers' compensation

Considering the intense focus the world currently has on the revelations about how the U.S. has been gathering data scraps on individuals in the name of national security, the term "surveillance" might not be the best term to use. But it is the one that federal officials have attached to a new initiative related to workers' compensation.

Whether you happen to be from Pennsylvania or some other state, chances are you'll be interested in the new effort involving the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

Officials call it the Center for Workers' Compensation Studies. They describe it as an office through which to encourage cooperation between NIOSH scientists and the various players in the disparate workers' compensation systems around the country. These would include the insurance companies and public and private sector operations involved in managing workers' compensation.

It's estimated that the cost to the country from work-related injuries and illness runs at around $250 billion every year. In announcing the new center last week, the head of NIOSH said the purpose of it will be to organize analyses of scattered workers' compensation data to search for clues for trends in worker injuries and provide insight on ways to help injury and illness forward.

NIOSH says that not only should the center allow the government to better gauge the economic impact of worker injury and illness costs, it should also provide guidance on ways to minimize risk to workers and costs to employers.

What the new center does not appear to address (at least not directly) is finding ways to simplify the processes for filing a workers' compensation claim and ensuring that a worker gets all the benefits he or she is entitled to when they do suffer work-related injury or illness. Pending action on that score, turning to an experienced attorney is the best course. 

Source: Claims Journal, "NIOSH Announces New Center for Workers’ Compensation Studies," John Howard, M.D., June 5, 2013

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