Have any predictions for the new year? Aon does, and released a workers comp “Barometer” report to analyze injuries for workers in health care. Their prediction for 2015 is that health care employee claims will decrease this year, since the frequency of claims has been on a slow decline over the past decade. However, claim severity has gone up in that time period.
The report studied frequency, severity, and overall loss rates for a little more than 1,000 different health care facilities across the United States. Beyond that, the report detailed certain industry specific concerns that could affect comp claims. Patient management in terms of handling and lifting is a big concern for this industry, almost a third of claims are related to this activity and they tend to pay out the most out of all health care worker claims. Materials handling and an aging workforce are other concerns for the industry, and though they pay out relatively less than patient handling injuries do, they are also on the rise in terms of frequency.
For every 100 hospital workers there are 6.8 work related diseases or injuries incurred- higher than notoriously dangerous injuries like construction. The study asserts that number will decrease at a rate of 1 percent this year, while severity will go up by 2 percent. Almost 75 percent of facilities that responded had a “Safe Patient Handling Program” and 95 percent had an established safety committee- and 17 percent had a safety incentive program in place. Among the 90 percent that had a return to work program in place, only 65 percent were really able to test its effectiveness. A lot of respondents thought there was room for improvement in their return to work programs.
Home health workers had the most severe injuries, maybe that is because they are also traveling to and from worksites. Central supply clerks also have more severe injuries- since they are handling heavy shipments and moving supplies. In terms of frequency, nurses suffer almost half of all claimed injuries. They are the ones who deal with patients the most, and as patient handling was a top concern for risk managers that would match up.
A report like this may help health care organizations measure themselves up against each other as well as collaborate on ways to keep their employees safe as they work to keep patients safe. Though we may not see health care as “dangerous” as we might think mining or construction are, the fact is that they face an unpredictable environment every day and they are another industry that deserves the best possible safety measures.