Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Building a human rights framework for workers' compensation in the United States: Opening the debate on first principles

Document type Article
Author Hilgert, Jeffrey A.
Journal American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume 55
Date 2012
ISSN 1097-0274
Pages 506-518


Background: This article introduces the idea of human rights to the topic of workers' compensation in the United States. It discusses what constitutes a human rights approach and explains how this approach conflicts with those policy ideas that have provided the foundation historically for workers' compensation in the United States. Methods: Using legal and historical research, key international labor and human rights standards on employment injury benefits and influential writings in the development of the U.S. workers' compensation system are cited. Results Workers' injury and illness compensation in the United States does not conform to basic international human rights norms. Conclusions: A comprehensive review of the U.S. workers' compensation system under international human rights standards is needed. Examples of policy changes are highlighted that would begin the process of moving workers' compensation into conformity with human rights standards.