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Managing Workers’ Comp Costs by Offering Fitness Opportunities

28. August 2013 16:12

Manage Workers' Comp Risks

A variety of research shows that healthy people make more productive workers. Specifically, according to the CDC, employees who maintain a healthy weight tend to miss fewer days and tend to have lower rates of “presenteeism” (showing up while sick but maintaining low productivity levels) than those who are overweight or obese.

As if that weren’t enough of a reason to inspire business owners to promote health-boosting efforts in the workplace, a new study from the California Workers Compensation Institute (CWCI) suggests that, thanks to the American Medical Association’s decision to classify obesity as a disease, the number and cost of Workers’ Comp cases involving obese employees could jump significantly.

Translation: having a less-healthy workplace could be bad for your bottom line.

Here’s a look at how and why unhealthy workers might cost you more and what steps you can take to manage your costs. (For more information on Workers' Comp costs, read our Workers' Comp Insurance Quote Analysis and our tips on managing your Workers' Comp exposure.)

Workers’ Compensation Claims Cost More When Obesity’s Involved

The CWCI study shows that…

In other words, obesity is already making Workers’ Compensation claims more expensive. And because insurance rates are based in part on claims history, employers who file claims for obese and injured workers may have higher Workers’ Comp premiums than those who submit less-expensive claims for healthy workers.

Add to these numbers a new wrinkle: with the AMA’s classification of obesity as a disease state, obesity could (in theory) be cited as a workplace illness that itself leads to a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Considering that research highlights a sedentary lifestyle (like the one most office workers lead) a leading cause of obesity, Workers’ Comp law could eventually allow obese workers to seek compensation for weight they put on from sitting behind a desk all day. And that means higher insurance bills for you, the business owner.

Lower Workers’ Comp Costs with Health Initiatives

So how can small-business owners lower their Workers’ Comp costs and potentially prevent obesity-related WC claims? Implementing some basic health initiatives is an excellent start. Even if you don’t have a huge staff or a ton of money to sponsor major events, you can get creative to offer your team…

Another benefit of supporting your team in health-building efforts? You’ll build relationships and foster communication, both of which are crucial to keeping employees engaged and minimizing the kind of mindlessness and carelessness that can lead to workplace injuries in the first place.

Tags:

Insurance Research | Risk Management | Small Business Risk Management | Workers' Compensation Insurance

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