Common Trends of WC Claims

by Rebecca “Beckie” Menard, Claims Specialist in Claims Matters

Each and every day, many claims pass across my desk. I review and read claim descriptions, which explain the circumstances and facts of how the loss occurred. And I’ve observed that over the years, many of them are, unfortunately, very similar in nature and often appear to have definitely been avoidable.

The descriptions provide useful information that allows us to analyze the claims to identify trends in claim types, frequency and severity, then to develop risk management tools and pass that information on to our industry group so you can take steps to prevent these same types of occurrences from happening at your company.

For workers’ compensation claims, the most current five-year data from our carriers shows the No. 1 cause of loss in both frequency and incurred claim dollars to be slips, trips and falls (STF). The most frequent injury type is strains and sprains, often caused by lifting, which has for many years been among the top-five causes for WC claims. There were 128 claims caused by lifting and straining with a total claim cost of $1,761,967 and an average cost per claim of $13,765. These results are consistent with prior-year analysis trends and have not changed. For slips/trips/falls, one carrier had 250 claims in the past five years, totaling $3,323,203 claim dollars spent with an average cost per claim of $13,293.

It’s important to remember that falls, and their impact on your company, can be 100% avoidable in most cases.

According to the National Safety Council, the third-leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths is falls; this includes falls both at home and at work. The report goes on to add that this data includes falls both from a height and on the same level. In 2016, 48,060 workers were injured badly enough to require days off of work. Workers in construction, which would include many of the tasks done by your outside plant workers, are most at risk from falls from a height, but falls can happen anywhere, including to your “desk workers.”

A detailed review of the notes of our most common slip, trips and falls, and lifting that has caused some type of strain, reveals that the use of ladders is often involved. The employee use of, or fall from, a ladder was indicated in 18% of the STF claims reported, and the average cost of these ladder claims was quite a bit higher, coming in at $21,839, as it includes some of the more serious injuries that can occur to employees that fall from a height. A Consumer Product Safety Commission report cited that OSHA believes 100% of ladder accidents could be prevented with proper attention to equipment and climber training being provided.

There are generally four main types of ladder accidents: selecting the wrong type of ladder, using worn or damaged ladders, incorrect use of the ladder and incorrect placement. Sprains and strains while lifting or using a ladder accounted for approximately 10% of the claims noted above. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Strain injury most commonly happens to the back, often when getting the ladder from the truck or placing it for use. Lifting and carrying are jobs that require special care and training. Back injuries can be difficult to treat and may result in lengthy and expensive claims.

Telcom Insurance Group has many resources specifically to address STFs and ladder safety to support your company’s risk management program and help you anticipate and prevent claims before they happen.

If you have any questions or need additional information for any claims matter, please visit the Telcom website, www.TelcomInsGrp.com, or call 800-222-4664 and ask for Beckie, ext. 1081, or Marilyn, ext. 1085.