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Work Comp Insights:
The Obesity Epidemic and WC Costs – What Is Their Connection?
A study conducted by the Duke University Medical Center found that obese workers file twice as many workers’ compensation claims, were absent from work 13 more days from a work-related injury and had seven times higher medical costs for claims than the average non-obese employee. Obesity is bad not only for the individual and his or her health, but also to the employer because of the financial burden that obesity has on workers’ compensation claims. Obesity also drives up the severity of claims, increases the time that workers must be away from work, decreases productivity and increases absenteeism.
The Duke University study conducted health risk appraisals of almost 12,000 individuals from groundskeepers to professors to nurses over a seven-year period. Researchers studied the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and workers’ compensation claims for study participants. For Americans, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, a BMI of 25 to 29 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.
The study revealed that workers with a BMI of over 40 had 11.65 claims per 100 workers as compared to only 5.8 claims per 100 workers for workers with a normal BMI. The obese workers also averaged 183.63 days of lost work per 100 employees as compared to only 14.19 days of missed work for employees with normal BMIs. Beyond that, the average medical claim for an obese worker was $51,019 per 100 employees, whereas the average claim for an employee with a normal BMI was only $7,503 per 100 employees.
Researchers found that employers could reduce workers’ compensation claims by taking the necessary steps to assist their employees in getting healthy and reducing their weight. In doing so, they could reduce their risk of injury and improve their overall health.
Strategies that Work
Though some organizations have adopted strategies to assist workers in staying healthy, these programs are not typically implemented at the level that they need to be to positively affect the obesity crisis in the United States. Yet, the following effective strategies can be easily implemented into your workplace to reduce workers’ compensation costs.
Physical/Weight Management Activities
Assisting your employees has never been easier and you are a key resource in their success. Taking steps to help them lower their BMIs will lower your workers’ compensation costs. Contact AmeriTrust at 800.825.9489 for more information on workers’ compensation insurance.
This Work Comp Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2017-2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.