Trends Affecting Workers Compensation in 2023
The COVID-19 pandemic unquestionably changed the landscape of working in America. And these widespread societal changes have also changed many aspects of claiming and collecting workers compensation benefits. The attorneys at Cantrell Green, Orange County’s premier workers comp firm, keep current on anything that affect workers compensation. This article is designed to give you some information on general trends that affect workers compensation, and how they might impact California workers’ compensation claims in the coming year.
There are a number of significant societal changes that could affect the current workers compensation system:
- Widespread labor shortages
- New and tighter immigration policies
- COVID-19 & the emergence of telemedicine
- Fewer workers comp claims due to working at home
- An aging workforce
- Climate Change
Workers Compensation and the Labor Shortage
Due to the sheer number of baby boomers in the workplace, it is anticipated that labor shortages may occur as they begin to retire. Furthermore, as workers age, there is the potential for a greater number of claims, and an increase in workers compensation costs. Hiring inexperienced workers tends to lead to a larger number of injuries and higher workers compensation premiums for employers.
Additionally, societal attitudes of “Gen Z” employees seem to be making entry level and labor intensive jobs harder to fill – further contributing to the current labor shortage.
A projected shortage of medical staff could also result in delays in medical care, which translates into increased time off work for injured employees. And as experienced workers compensation staff workers retire, less experienced staff will take their place, which could also result in less efficiency and greater wait periods.
Restrictive immigration policies also mean that many positions previously typically filled by immigrants, such as farm workers, landscape workers, food service support staff such as dishwashers, and many more may go unfilled.
Workers Compensation & an Aging Workforce
According to the Census Bureau, there has been a 35 percent increase in the number of Americans 65 and older who continue to work or are looking for jobs. Experts suggest that this trend is at least in part due to longer and healthier life spans and the fact that people simply want to work longer. Additionally, financial concerns are a factor, what with the possibility that retirement savings may evaporate due to stock market losses and fears that Social Security and other benefits won’t cover financial needs.
But an aging or “elderly” workforce also means that employees are more likely to be injured on the job – as well as take longer to recovery when they are hurt while working. This could place a tremendous burden on the workers compensation system.
Workers Compensation and Climate Change
Over the past ten years, more than 350 workers died as a result of heat-related injuries. Additionally, tens of thousands of workers were impacted by the heat to the extent that they missed one or more days of work.
The jobs with the highest risk for heat-related illnesses or deaths are those in construction, landscaping, agriculture, and even delivery persons, such as postal workers, UPS and FedEx workers.
In 2015, California, Texas and Georgia reported the highest number of workers with non-fatal illnesses due to heat – a combined total of more than 800 employees. As climate change continues to be an issue, this trend will only increase.
Workers Compensation & Telemedicine
One ray of sunshine in the outlook for workers compensation is the advent of telemedicine, where medical providers can consult with, diagnose and prescribe treatment for injured workers rapidly and at much less cost through online e-appointments.
The advent of telemedicine enables medical providers to collaborate to a much greater extent. This collaboration enables the providers to share information and notes, saving substantial amounts of time in waiting for reports that are necessary to create a treatment plan. It also will likely decrease the cost of treatment substantially.
Telemedicine is also beneficial for those suffering from work related injuries because it not only makes getting treatment faster, but it opens the door to after-hours treatment options, and provides ongoing supervision. These benefits are important because they work to eliminate or reduce treatment delays, thus preventing what appears to be a simple injury from turning into something more serious.
Work From Home Employees Less Likely to File Workers Comp
According to the US Census Bureau, the number of people primarily working from home tripled between 2019 and 2022. Currently 7 million people work remotely at least half the time in the United States – with 16% of companies hiring only remote workers.
Since the number-one cause of workplace injuries is slip and fall accidents, the number of fall related (and similar) workers comp claim claims has reduced – easing the burden on the workers compensation system. Generally, employees will not (and often legally cannot) bring workers comp claims for fall injuries while working at home.
However, the flip side to the remote-work trend is that many government employees are also working remotely – including conducting some workers compensation interviews, evaluations, and hearings remotely. While this has actually made it easier for some disabled applicants by avoiding the need for travel – in other jurisdictions it has slowed and backlogged the workers compensation system.
Orange County Workers Compensation Attorneys
Changes to the U.S. workforce are anticipated to continue in 2023 as industry and government continue to adjust to life post-pandemic. The growth in population appears to be slowing down; at the same time, the population is growing older; and there is a greater diversity in terms of ethnicity – with fewer immigrant workers, hotter temperatures and greater integration of technology.
In general, California’s stance toward the workers compensation system has been to react and reform. As these changes begin to affect the workers compensation arena in Orange County, Southern California and beyond, our experienced workers compensation attorneys will continue to monitor and report on changes that affect our clients.
If you were injured or made ill in the workplace, we recommend that you speak with an experienced Orange County workers compensation attorney immediately. Our Orange County workers compensation attorneys can help you identify minor issues before they become major problems – and make sure that you not only receive your benefits now, but for years to come.
Orange County Workers Compensation Attorneys: 800-964-8047