Workers’ Comp and Our Aging Workforce

It’s no wonder that employers have concerns, since there’s so much in the news about our aging workforce and skyrocketing healthcare costs. Businesses want to minimize their workers’ compensation claims and insurance expenditures. Luckily, there’s good news.

Average Costs Similar For Over 35 Age Group

Several studies conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance show “an aging workforce appears to have a far less negative impact on workers’ compensation claim costs than might have been thought.” Contrary to popular belief, the findings indicate the average workers’ compensation costs for all people over 35 are very similar.

Higher Wages – Higher Premiums

The NCCI research brief suggests higher premiums align with the higher wages older employees earn, and it’s not that they experience injuries more frequently. Specific diagnoses were very comparable across all age groups.

Gap Between Age Groups Narrows

Historically, high severity injuries were more common in the aging population, however in recent years the differences between age groups narrowed considerably. Researchers state this in not due to job types held by younger workers. “Occupational mix may have changed, but all occupations are much safer.” However, it may be due, in part, to improved fitness and self-care in our older population.

Over 35 Greatest Severity

The study found workers 20 to 24 have the lowest severity and costs, and all workers between 35 and 64 have similar costs. Those 25 to 34 tend to occupy the middle ground. Insurance costs are 56 percent higher for workers over 35 and their medical cost are 51 percent higher, too.

Injury Type Increases Costs

While wage differences can account for some of this difference, it appears injury type may be a more influential factor. Younger workers tend to make claims for injuries such as lower back strain or sprains, while older ones tend to have joint issues, rotator cuff problems, and chronic nerve pain.

Ankle sprains take an average of 6 weeks to heal, while a rotator cuff strains take an average of 6 months. Chronic nerve pain may require specialists, varied treatment, and years until the worker finds relief.

Prevention Rather Than Alarm Bells

The last U.S. census shows a third of our population is between 25 and 64-years old and they clearly have a firm foothold in the workplace. Since older workers tend to experience more cumulative trauma disorders, ergonomic and preventative measures may lower frequency and severity.

Training to reduce improper work positioning, repetitive work, and over-exertion benefits all employees and prevents issues in employees later in their careers. Incorporating movement into the work day also reduces an older employee’s risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

A workplace wellness program empowers employees, and improves fitness levels. An injury and illness prevention program prevents injuries and disease, and reduces claims and costs.

Instead of handling long-term claims and fretting about high premiums, why not talk to us? Gilbert’s Risk Solutions’ long track record and commitment to excellence minimizes risk and cost. We can help your company reduce risk and Workers’ Compensation claims.

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