The flow of workers’ compensation is not static; there are trends that drive the expenses up and down that change every year. The benefits available to employees and their costs to employers are expected to vary depending on many factors. Knowing the trends of workers’ compensation allows both employees and employers to prepare for what might become an issue in the near future.
Workers’ compensation trends to look out for in 2012 include:
- Higher risk due to aging employees. Technological advances in medicine mean that people are living longer and the poor economy means that people are working more and retiring later. With an older work force, there are increased cases of age-related disabilities. Possible chronic conditions of aging employees include: diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. These can also lead to greater risk of injury and longer recovery times which can greatly increase the frequency of claims made to the employer.
- Increase in medical costs. Things have become more expensive in this economy and that includes the cost of medical treatment. If an employee is injured in the workplace, the amount the employer will need to pay for compensation will be increased from previous years.
- More off-site employees. With greater technology and a desire to be more efficient, many companies are allowing their employees to work off-site, either at home or at a satellite location. While this has the potential to decrease overhead expenses, employers lose their control over workplace conditions. This could potentially lead to more dangerous work sites and by extension an increase in work-related injuries. Since the employees are still on the job, companies may be responsible for compensation.
- Decrease in work-related fatalities. The amount of work-related fatalities has steadily decreased over the past decade. This could potentially be attributed to stricter health codes and safety programs. If this trend continues, employers will see fewer expenses being paid to employees’ dependents.
As a result of these mostly negative trends, employers are making a concerted effort to increase the safety of their workplace environment and their employees’ wellbeing. In an effort to decrease the need for workers’ compensation expenses, many employers are adding wellness programs to try and keep their employees healthy and at work for longer. There are many things employers can do to maintain and even lower the costs of workers’ compensation. This economy might be an opportunity for employers to get creative in controlling workers’ compensation expenses.
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