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(c) 2018 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Workplace is Getting Safer - The Future of Workers' Compensation

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has confirmed the steady decline in accidents and injuries on the job. They have declined for 14 years. This data mirrors the steady decline of workers' compensation claims and the change of the US workplace from a manufacturing to service. 


The question remains whether this trend will continue going forward given the elimination of US regulations about industrial and environmental pollution. Also, a major factor is that the workplace and the nature of work are changing in a computerized and robotic culture. As machines replace workers, compensation systems become more difficult to navigate, and what constitutes employment status versus independent contractor changes, the entire workers' compensation system will be challenged to the core. 


"There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017, which occurred at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Private industry employers reported nearly 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2017 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

  • The 2017 rate of total recordable cases (TRC) fell 0.1 cases per 100 FTE workers to continue a pattern of declines that, apart from 2012, occurred annually since 2004. (See chart 1.) 
  • The rates for different types of cases—days away from work (DAFW), days of job transfer or restriction only (DJTR), and other recordable cases (ORC)—were unchanged from a year earlier.  
  • The rate for DJTR cases has remained at 0.7 cases per 100 FTE workers since 2011. 
  • Nearly one-third of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses resulted in days away from work. 
  • Among the 19 private industry sectors, only manufacturing and finance and insurance experienced statistically significant changes in their overall rates of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2017—each declined by 0.1 cases per 100 FTE workers compared to 2016.


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters).
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