Sustaining an injury on the job happens, and when it does, filing a workers' compensation claim may seem downright scary. While it may seem as if people are suffering workplace injuries more and more, the opposite is actually true. The rate of claims filed in Minnesota is dropping year over year.
In a study commissioned by the Department of Labor and Industry, the downward trend in payouts indicates that fewer workers are getting hurt. The data demonstrate a 54 percent drop since 1996. What is behind this decrease?
Great strides are continuing to occur in worker safety. The development of federal standards and guidelines by the United States Department of Labor and OSHA are a major contributing reason that people are safer on the job. These rules have developed over time to protect workers from hazardous conditions including chemical exposure, poor worksite conditions and unfair labor practices. With the increased enforcement and fines for violating these rules and regulations, companies are more inclined to stay in compliance rather than face repercussions.
Workers' compensation insurance itself has evolved over the last few decades. Insurance premiums are dropping, a move that is in direct correlation to the decline in accidents and injuries. Insurance companies have changed the way they pay workers and companies when an accident occurs. There are more programs in place to better help workers recover by giving them access to treatment, vocational rehabilitation, vouchers and continuing therapy.
Businesses are encouraging workers who sustain an injury to report it quickly. Getting the ball rolling on a workers' compensation claim can make a significant difference when it comes to worker recovery and retention, as well as the rate of re-injury.
The decrease in claims and payouts does not mean people who suffer injuries are not reporting; rather, it may just be an indicator that the safety of employees is starting to take a larger role in company policies and procedures.