Workers’ Compensation insurance continues to be a major concern for companies across all industries, including health care, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 18 million workers. Health care workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needlestick injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress.
The third edition of Aon’s biennial Health Care Workers’ Compensation Barometer, released in September, reports on Workers’ Compensation in the health care sector, exploring trends in frequency, severity, and overall loss rates in the industry. The report finds that for the 2017 accident year, health care systems will face a complex environment of emerging risks that will have a direct impact on Workers’ Compensation.
The Aon report analyzed data from approximately 1,600 heath care facilities across the country and found that while the severity of Workers’ Compensation claims has been increasing at a rate of two percent annually, the frequency of claims is expected to decrease one percent annually. The report also found that the industry should see loss rates increase by a projected one percent. “As has been the case historically, the health care industry has experienced little volatility in Workers’ Compensation loss rates and, to augment that, claims frequency continues on a slow and steady decline,” according to Martha Bronson, associate director, and actuary for Aon Risk Solutions. “However, an aging workforce, safe patient-handling issues and workplace violence are all emerging risks that need to be top of mind for the industry.”
Following is a brief description of what the Aon report found as it relates to these emerging risks:
An Aging Workforce in Health Care
Workers’ Compensation claim costs increase as health care workers age, with the majority of those claims resulting from injuries to the back and shoulders, cites the report. Fifty-three percent of working nurses – a demographic that is the most frequently injured – are over the age of 50. Education is key in controlling these types of claims in the future and ensuring a healthy and safe workforce. The report found that although 58% of respondents have a mentoring program that develops younger workers, 61% do not have policies or programs that help transition older workers to a different work setting.
Safe Patient Handling
Safe patient handling policies and controls are front-and-center in helping to minimize the risk of injury to health care workers. The report’s findings suggest that focusing on patient-handling initiatives and best practices can prevent Workers’ Compensation claims. The average cost of a claim for systems that use safe patient handling and mobility standards is lower versus a facility that does not – $6,000 versus $7,800 – and overall these standards have reduced the incidence of health care worker injuries by up to 95%, said the Aon report.
The report found a surprising and alarming number of survey respondents (91%) experienced workplace violence in the past three years. That’s the bad news. More encouraging is that about half of the respondents indicate they are prepared for such an incident, with another 27% being very prepared. Eighty-one percent of respondents have a formal Workplace Violence Prevention Policy in place. Included in these plans are discussions on management commitment and employee participation as well as policies involving hazard identification, safety, and health training, and hazard prevention, control, and reporting.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in providing Workers’ Compensation insurance solutions for diverse industry sectors, including healthcare facilities – from nursing homes and assisted living facilities to other medical facilities. For more information on our insurance solutions, including risk management and loss control services for clients, give us a call at 877.226.1027.