Numbers

Employer Solutions | 23 days ago

Workers’ Compensation — Know the Numbers

Workers’ compensation insurance costs employers more than $95 billion every year. When you dig into the hard numbers, it is clear that preparing for an injury should be a top priority for any business.

By Lawrence Raymond, MD, medical director, Carolinas HealthCare System HEALTHWORKS

Over the last few weeks, we have explored the changing face of workers’ compensation and how employers can best prepare themselves and their team to deal with on-the-job injuries.

Depending on the size of your organization and whether you rely on office workers, staff out in the field or manual laborers, your view of workplace injuries may vary. In fact, you may not even consider workers’ compensation preparation to be a priority for your company. However, when you dig into the hard numbers, it is clear that preparing for an injury should be a top priority for any business.

Major investment

Workers’ compensation insurance costs employers more than $95 billion every year. Covering more than 140 million workers, this means that companies are investing, on average, more than $678 per employee. Recent data shows that companies are paying around $31.5 billion annually to cover medical and surgical expenses and around $32 billion a year in lost wages.

When you consider that 3 to 4 percent of employees will suffer a workplace injury every year, the immediate financial impact for any company can be significant.

More physical activity, more risk

Data shows that jobs that involve more physical activity have a higher rate of workers’ compensation claims. For example, 20 percent of cases that involved days away from work due to injury came from just five types of occupations: laborers; nursing aides, orderlies and attendants; janitors; tractor-trailer truck and heavy-truck drivers; and police and sheriff’s patrol officers.

If your organization requires that employees engage in physical activity, it is in your best interest to ensure these staff members are properly trained in safety best practices to minimize injuries.

A grim outlook

Our society is focusing more and more on health and wellness, driven by behavior and attitudes adopted by the millennial generation. However, despite this attention to health, many  young workers will face a debilitating injury or incident. According to the Social Security Administration, as many as one in four 20-year-olds will become disabled before they reach retirement.

The drivers behind this trend are still being studied, but lack of proper treatment after a significant injury is one of the key factors. Ensuring that staff members receive the proper long-term care and guidance after an injury is one of the best ways to keep skilled employees in the workforce.

Injury outpacing illness

While the single largest driver of overall healthcare costs in the United States is chronic conditions and illness, when it comes to workplace issues, on-the-job injuries account for about 95 percent of all workers’ compensation claims while on-the-job illnesses account for about 5 percent of costs.

Though on-the-job injuries may not seem like a pressing concern, these figures show that a single incident in the workplace can have a substantial impact on your organization’s bottom line, not to mention the toll it can have on the employee. By arming employees with best practices and promoting a safe work environment, this risk can be mitigated.

What steps does your organization take to reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries? Share your ideas with us on Twitter (@HEALTHWORKS) and LinkedIn.