Workers’ Compensation Trends & Risks in the New Economy

Workers’ Compensation Risks

With each passing year, industries change and adapt. This is due in large part to technology. Some current changes taking place include:
 
  • Upgrades to computers and assembly lines
  • Desks getting converted to ergonomic standards
  • Workers adopting new technology that is replacing old equipment and furniture
New technology may bring more advanced working conditions and contemporary office features. However, modern work environments may also have more contemporary risks. These risks include:
 
  • Medical marijuana in the workplace
  • Opioid addiction
  • Active shooters
  • Inadequate evacuation plans
Workers' Comp Risks Your employees should know how to respond immediately when facing workplace risks like these. For example, do you have an emergency response plan in place to help guide employees when immediate action is needed? If not, consider mapping out emergency procedures and evacuation routes to help ensure safety during an emergency. Your employees should also know how to recognize the signs of addiction and drug use in the office.
 
One of the most effective ways to mitigate these risks is by educating your workforce. In fact, education should be a part of your overall workers’ compensation insurance program.
 
To help keep your workforce safe, you’ll want to:
 
  • Teach employees all emergency procedures. Your employees should be trained on what to do in the event of a workplace emergency.
  • Have employees practice evacuation routes. Every employee should know the best way to evacuate your workplace.
  • Educate employees on the signs of a distressed co-worker or drug misuse. You want to teach your employees to notice signs of stress or depression in their co-workers. You also want them to notice signs of co-workers abusing drugs in or outside of the workplace. Encourage your employees to speak up if they notice anything out of the ordinary.
It’s crucial that you take action in the event that an incident occurs at your workplace and an employee is injured. First, you’ll want to file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible. This ensures that your employee gets the medical coverage they need. It also helps protect your business from costly medical bills. From there, you’ll want to stay in touch with the injured employee and their family members.
 
If your employee sustains a permanent injury, you’ll want to do your best to accommodate them. For this, you may need to switch their duties around. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) helps set standards and protect employees with disabilities. As a business owner, it’s important to always make sure you align with their expectations.
 

Opioid Addiction in the Workplace

As a business owner, you understand how employee productivity is linked to their health and well-being. Therefore, promoting a safe and healthy work environment is just one of the hats that you must wear. You may not be aware that one risk to today’s workforce is the national opioid crisis. The crisis is creating a financial burden on employers by creating compromised productivity, a diminished labor force, higher health care costs and higher recruiting and training costs. Here are some statistics to consider:
 
  • According to the Washington Post, there is an estimated 4.5 million adults in the U.S. with opioid addiction.1 One-third of Americans either know someone who has overdosed or know someone who’s addicted to opioids.2
  • More than half of those who misuse opioids are employed.
  • Over 130 people die of opioids every day in the U.S.3 Rhode Island, West Virginia, Ohio, Washington D.C. and Connecticut are among the top states with the highest opioid overdoses.4
In addition, our own research conducted among U.S. HR professionals and workers found:5
 
  • 67% of companies (small, medium and large) have been impacted by opioid use today.
  • Only 38% of employees are aware of addiction resources at their company.
  • 76% of employees do not feel like they have enough training to help workers who are addicted to opioids.
Despite the crisis’ impact on the workforce, only one-third of companies have made addressing opioid misuse a top priority.6 To help employers and their employees, The Hartford has teamed up with nonprofit Shatterproof to create the Opioid Aware Program, which provides online education and aims to:7
 
  • Facilitate understanding of the opioid crisis and its impact on the workforce.
  • Provide business owners and their employees with proper information and resources for opioid awareness.
In order to reduce opioid use across the country, employers, communities and organizations across the U.S. need to work together. Community members who are already fighting back against opioids include the police and other law enforcement officers. The more community members across organizations that fight back against the opioid crisis, the bigger the impact will be.
 
As a business owner, the best place to start is by providing your workers with the resources they need. Making sure they know what to do in times of crisis is integral to managing opioid risks in your workplace.
 

Medical Marijuana in the Workforce

Risks of Workers Compensation Insurance State laws regarding marijuana vary across the country. That said, more than half of the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana or plan on changing their marijuana laws in the future.8
 
Despite legalization at the state level, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This means it’s treated the same as other controlled substances.
 
As such, you may end up with employees on your team who test positive for marijuana. If drug testing is part of your employment hiring process, job applicants may also have positive drug tests. If this is the case, be sure to find out if they have a valid medical marijuana prescription, as many often do.
 
It’s also important to note that drug testing your employees tends to land in a grey area. Workers’ compensation claims related to medical marijuana are typically decided on a case-by-case basis. Common sense, anti-discrimination and privacy laws are all taken into consideration. To drug test any person, you must have a strong work-related reason.
 

Active Shooter Preparedness

Active shooting incidents are often unpredictable and seldom expected. It doesn’t matter if it’s a disgruntled employee, applicant or another member of your daily operations. It’s essential to educate your team on how to handle an active shooter situation. No one ever thinks it will happen to them – but what if it does? It never hurts to be prepared.
 
Active shootings can evolve rapidly. This makes it important to practice your evacuation routes. Employees should be able to navigate them correctly. You want employees to handle the situation with both caution and care. The Department of Homeland Security and Ready.gov provide useful tips for your workers. Some of them include:
 
  • Everyone should know where the nearest two exits are. They should also know at least two potential places to hide.
  • Employees should know that getting away from the active shooter is their first priority. They can also help others escape, if possible. From there they can warn and prevent others from nearing the area where the shooter may be.
  • Your employees should not hide in groups.
  • Remaining quiet is essential. Your employees should silence electronics, close the blinds and turn off lights. If they’re communicating with police officers, they should do so silently.
  • You want your employees to stay in your hiding position until law enforcement instructs them to move. They should make sure their hiding place is out of the shooter’s view. It should provide protection needed in case shots are fired in their direction.
Employees that get injured from an active shooter are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Your Business Owner’s Policy can help cover any other liabilities, such as:
 
  • Property damage.
  • Someone who was injured in the accident but isn’t employed by you.
  • Damaged assets such as equipment, customer data, cash, furniture or inventory.

Business Evacuation Plan

No matter what size your company is, there should be an evacuation plan already established. Your evacuation plan should account for every individual at your place of work. This includes:
 
  • Employees with disabilities
  • Visitors
  • Emergency responders
Employees should know every step in your procedure in advance. Your evacuation plan should address a variety of situations. It should also be tested.
 
People at risk for emergency situations include:
 
  • Those with asthma attacks.
  • Members of your team with permanent disabilities.
  • Anyone with broken bones such as ankles or an arm.
  • Individuals who are pregnant.
These are just a few examples, but each business is unique. This means you’ll want to address the potential emergencies that you foresee happening to your employees now. You can always add additional safety precautions as you go.
 
If you have The Hartford’s workers’ compensation insurance, we offer a wide variety of risk management solutions to help you identify and mitigate potential workers’ comp risks. Together, we’ll work to ensure your employees and business are protected when emergencies arise.
 

Learn More About Business Insurance

Do you need help creating a comprehensive risk management plan for your business? Representatives at The Hartford can help you:
 
  • Prevent and reduce the risk of workers’ compensation insurance claims.
  • Improve your evacuation plan and workplace safety programs.
  • Learn about the benefits of business insurance and risk management.
At The Hartford, we pride ourselves on improving workplace safety. To start mitigating your workplace risks, contact us today. 
 
 
This article provides general information, and should not be construed as specific legal, HR, financial, insurance, tax or accounting advice. As with all matters of a legal or human resources nature, you should consult with your own legal counsel and human resources professionals. The Hartford shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive or exemplary damages in connection with the use by you or anyone of the information provided herein.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Certain coverages vary by state and may not be available to all businesses. All Hartford coverages and services described on this page may be offered by one or more of the property and casualty insurance company subsidiaries of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. In TX, this insurance is written by Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd., Hartford Casualty Insurance Company, Hartford Lloyd’s Insurance Company, Property and Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford, Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company, Twin City Fire Insurance Company, Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company and Hartford Fire Insurance Company. In CA by Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd. (CA license # 8701) and its property and casualty insurance company affiliates, One Hartford Plaza, Hartford, CT 06155.
 
The Hartford® is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its property and casualty subsidiaries, including issuing company, Hartford Fire Insurance Company. Its headquarters is in Hartford, CT.