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Aging workforce may change work comp plans

 While a number of our posts have focused on the potential for workers’ compensation fraud, it is possible that the number of fraudulent claims have risen because the number of benefits claims as a whole continue to rise. This is likely because the workforce is steadily aging. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of American workers has grown to 42.3 years old in 2012 from 34.2 years old in 1980.

The increase is likely attributable because more people are working longer, probably because they cannot afford to retire on their own terms. Because of this, employers must understand the relationship between older workers and the potential for long-term injuries. Studies show that older workers tend to have lower injury rates. This is likely because they do not like reckless lifestyles like younger workers do. However, once they are injured, they tend to take more time off from work; most likely because they do not heal as fast as younger workers.

As such, employers must be prudent in evaluating workers’ comp carriers to make sure that it fits the company’s philosophy and work culture. Proactive employers can avoid the headaches and red tape that an insurer can create. Also, employers must understand the rights injured employees have so that rash employment decisions can be avoided. By taking time to completely evaluate an injured worker’s situation before such decisions are made, wrongful termination lawsuits can be avoided.

Finally, employers should resist the temptation that injured workers do not want to return to work. Despite the stories about work comp fraud, a majority of workers want to be back working. 

Source: “Effects of aging on workers compensation,” Michael B. Stack, June 9, 2014 

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