Insurance company representatives in California and elsewhere are indicating that high worker’s compensation premium rates could be partially to blame on employers’ reluctance to return injured workers to work.
Noting that California has one of the worst return-to-work ratios in the United States, representatives from that state are pointing to recent national studies that cite a failure to rehire injured workers as a “core reason” for worker’s compensation ills.
A recent Rand Institute report showed that a lack of return-to-work was impacting insurance rates nationally; additionally, a 2003 study by the Work Loss Data Institute indicated that businesses in California, whose worker’s compensation system was recently overhauled to include provisions that reward employers who return injured workers to the workplace, rank nearly last in providing opportunities for workers to return to work.
According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, employers are quick to blame injured workers, particularly those who embark upon litigation, for the state’s low return-to-work rates. Workers, as well as industry analysts, believe that the problem lies in the hands of employers who don’t want to make special ergonomic accommodations for injured workers. Their assertions are backed up by a survey of the California Chiropractic Association that found 22 percent of injured workers were refused a return to the job even after medical professionals had okayed them for work.
In addition to statewide policies, like the provisions in the newly-passed worker’s compensation reform law in California that rewards employers with lower premium rates for returning a worker to a job, ergonomics is also an essential tool in return-to-work. For an in-depth look of how ergonomics can contribute to a successful and cost-effective return-to-work program, see the April 2004 issue of The Ergonomics Report.
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune; The Ergonomics Report