Are Correctional Facility Workers in Illinois Receiving Excessive Compensation
thesisposted on 18.10.2016, 00:00 authored by Mariana J. Lever Ortiz
In 2011, workers’ compensation laws in Illinois were changed because of a purported excess in claims and payouts to correctional officers in one particular facility. The objectives of this study are 1) to determine the number, rates, and trends of occupational injuries and illnesses among correctional facility workers (CFWs) compared to a reference group of non-correctional facility workers (non-CFWs) during the same period; and 2) to compare workers’ compensation cost for correctional officers versus the reference group. The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (IWCC) maintains a database of claims from all Illinois employees for occupational injuries and illnesses. We extracted all injuries and illnesses among correctional facility workers as well as a matched group and described them using SAS version 9.4. The total workers monetary compensation and wages were adjusted for inflation (2012). Regression analysis was used to compare injuries, total monetary workers compensation (TWC), permanent partial disability (PPD) percent, and number of weeks away from work for temporary total disability (TTD) between the two groups. From 2002 to 2012 there were 2997 claims filled by Illinois CFWs. Half of the CFW claims were associated with either upper extremity injuries (n=930; 33%) or lower extremity injuries (n=596; 21%). The major drivers for TWC were average weekly wage, PPD, and TTD. Final settlement amount (TWC) received by CFWs after filing a claim with the IWCC did not significantly differ from the amount received by non-CFWs (CI 95%; -1275.61, 135.36). CFW’s were granted 0.49 more weeks away from work for TTD (CI 95%; 0.05, 0.90). Employees of correctional facilities earn low wages and are exposed to a variety of hazards that result in occupational injury and illness. While the compensation per claim was similar among CFWs and non-CFWs, it should be noted that almost one quarter of the claims filed from 2002 to 2012 by workers at correctional facilities originated at Menard Correctional Center. The IWCC database should be improved and utilized to provide evidence for policy changes and for focusing preventive efforts in CFWs and in all workers in Illinois.