Uncompensated consequences of workplace injuries and illness: long-term disability and early termination.
J Saf Res 2013 Feb; 44(Special Issue):119-124
Problem: Costs related to early retirement or termination, and long-term disability resulting from work-related injury or illness, or their residual effects, could be outside the workers compensation (WC) envelope. Method: Using a benefits database providing utilization information for medical insurance and WC, statistical models were fit to determine if the rate of early retirement, long-term disability status, or any early termination depended on a prior WC claim. Results: Rates of early retirement or long-term disability varied widely across in-dustrial sectors and by employee classification likely reflecting variable benefits structures or reporting across employers. For any early termination the WC-associated rate ratio in hourly nonunion employees was 1.20 (95%CI=1.14-1.28); for hourly union employees the rate ratio was 1.05 (95%CI=0.97-1.13); for salaried non-union employees, the rate ratio was 3.43 (95%CI=3.11-3.79). In the manufacturing-durable sector the WC-associated rate ratio for hourly nonunion employees was 1.58 (95%CI=1.42-1.76); for union hourly em- ployees the rate ratio was 1.23 (95%CI=1.10-1.38). In contrast, in the transportation-utilities-communications sector, for hourly nonunion employees the WC-associated rate ratio was 0.52 (95%CI=0.46-0.59) whereas for union hourly employees the rate ratio was 1.22 (95%CI=1.08-1.38). Discussion: Prior WC predicts increased early termination in some workplaces but not others. Substantial uncompensated costs of workplace injuries and illnesses may result either from adverse events previously compensated by WC or from uncompensated events in individuals having other, WC-compensated episodes, i.e.,workers in higher risk jobs. In otherworkplaces reduced termination rates with prior WC suggests added costs internalized by employers. Summary: Conditions leading to WC claims appear to have cost implications related to early - or delayed - removal from the workforce. These costs can affect both employees and employers and should be included in estimates of burden of occupational injury and illness.
Workers; Work-environment; Injuries; Accidents; Disabled-workers;
Author Keywords: workers' compensation; health insurance; occupational disease
Robert Park, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Education and Information Division, MS C-15, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Issue of Publication
Manufacturing; Wholesale and Retail Trade
Journal of Safety Research