Workplace Injuries Occurring Less Often With Older Employees
By Lynn Fugaro, Staff Writer
There’s an interesting trend in recent months regarding workplace injuries involving older employees—fewer workplace injury claims are being filed even though the average age of those in the workforce has increased. Most would probably think the opposite would be true as the age of the workforce increases—injuries occurring on the job should actually be increasing but that’s not the case.
Workplace Injury Facts and Figures
The National Council on Compensation Insurance released a report recently indicating that the number of workers 55 years of age and older has nearly doubled since 2006, frequency of injury has declined 30% from 2006 to 2017. James Lynch, chief actuary of the Insurance Information Institute, points out some factors that contributing to the record low numbers of workplace injuries in older employees. Lynch said the improved safety of workplaces has lead to improved safety in general; also, the percentage of smokers has gone down, and people are eating healthier. Lynch pointed to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers are safer, but they’re older, too: 22.4% were 55 or older in 2016, almost double their 12% share in 2006.
We can thank women for contributing to the lower injury rates in older workers. Currently, females make up a larger share of the U.S. workforce than ever before, and now represent 47% of all workers. Lynch says, “Women continue to be less injury prone than males, but the difference between the genders has diminished as female workers increased their numbers in male dominated industries such as transportation and manufacturing.” BLS statistics show that in 2017, men had 17% more lost-day injuries than women, compared to 34% more injuries in 2006.
This Trend May Not Continue
Mark Walls, the Vice President of Communications and Strategic Management for Safety National, says that while the numbers look good, they may not be so good for long. He notes that research by the NCCI and similar agencies has shown that workplace accident rates tend to increase when unemployment rates are low, as less experienced and sometimes less physically fit workers join the workforce. The current rate of unemployment in the United States is at an historic low of 4%. Walls also pointed out that while the number of workplace injury claims may be low at this time, the claims that are being filed are huge—referred to as “mega claims” of $1 million or more.
Walls said, “It used to be a $5 million loss was huge and $10 million was rare, but now $10 million is increasingly common and individual claims are being seen as large as $40 million.”
The NCCI lists the following as the most common workplace injuries in 2017:
- Overexertion 30% of cases
- Contact with objects and equipment 23.2%
- Falls/trips/slips 23.1%
- Transportation 4.9%
- Violence 4.0%
- Exposure to harmful substances 3.8%
- Fire/explosion 0.1%
If you’ve suffered a workplace injury, you will need an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to guide you through the complex process of filing a claim and collecting appropriate benefits.