Workers’ Compensation and an Aging Workforce

A specific area of research and design in the field of ergonomics revolves around an aging and elderly population. Products are increasingly being designed specifically for this population, or redesigned to include this population. Many products are for use in the home. Outside of the home and in the workforce an aging population can bring concerns. An aging population may face an increased sensitivity to extreme environments such as very hot, humid or cold, and may experience work as more metabolically taxing than it previously was. A new study released by the Worker's Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) shows that such a shift in demographics does not significantly affect workers' compensation costs. According to a news release from WCRI, the study of eight large states representing 40 percent of the nation's workers' compensation benefits found that even though the number of older workers is expected to double between 1995 and 2020, the trend in workers' compensation costs are largely unaffected by the future aging of the work force. Some may find this result to be surprising. The study reported that older workers have only slightly higher claims costs than do middle-aged workers. As a result, workers' compensation claims costs will not rise dramatically as they approach retirement. Further, the lower claim frequencies of older workers tend to offset their higher costs per claim. The report also stated that the impact of age on costs was greater during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s because baby boomers were moving into middle age, where costs of a typical claim tend to rise with age. But that trend flattens out after middle age. The study examined the effects of the changing age distribution of the workforce on the workers' compensation systems in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas. The Workers Compensation Research Institute is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization conducting public policy research on workers' compensation, health care and disability issues. Its members include employers, insurers and governmental entities; associate members include insurance regulators and state regulatory agencies, as well as several state labor organizations. For more information seeĀ WCRI