It shouldn’t hurt to go to work. But in 2004, more than 12,000 workers were injured or made ill on the job every single day—and that doesn’t include the estimated 50,000 to 60,000 workers who died from occupational diseases.

Experts agree that if you are injured on the job, you should:

  • Notify your supervisor, the personnel department and your Union steward.
  • Get the medical treatment you need. You may be required to see a doctor selected by your employer. If you are injured on the job, your employer’s insurance company is obligated to pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment.
  • If your employer has written an “incident report,” get a copy of it. Your Union steward and the employer should obtain the names of workers who witnessed your injury or assisted you afterward, as you may need this information if you seek workers’ compensation benefits.

You also may be entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits or vocational rehabilitation benefits. If you file a claim for benefits and it is rejected, you may appeal the ruling, even to the courts. Experts recommend seeking legal advice.

The U.S. Department of Labor advises that private-sector and state and local government workers injured on the job should contact their state workers’ compensation board. The department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs also has specific information for federal workers, coal mine workers and longshore and harbor workers.

For more information on the Web, visit these sites for basic information and links:

The AFL-CIO Workers’ Compensation site.
The AFL-CIO’s compilation of workers’ compensation links, including state agencies.
The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights site of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, with information about the center’s safety and health resources.

For information about state workers’ compensation laws and to connect with the state agencies, see:

State Workers’ Compensation Divisions on AFSCME’s website.
In addition, several state-based injured workers’ groups have websites, including:
Maine Injured Workers Association.
Oregon Injured Workers United.
Injured Workers Association of Utah.

Sadly, many employers will attempt to blame accidents and injuries on the victim. Sometimes employers will threaten discipline. This is insane, and the best way to assure fairness in event of an injury on the job is to have an airline workers union. If you are an airline worker who belongs to an airline workers union, contact your shop steward as soon as possible after addressing immediate medical needs.

Prepared by the AFL-CIO,

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