August 3, 2020

Returning to Work in the COVID-19 Era

As of July 22, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) documented over 14 million cases of COVID-19 globally and over 600,000 deaths,1 while within the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 3.9 million cases and 142,000 deaths.2

As these numbers continue to rise, COVID-19 continues to affect all facets of society and will for the foreseeable future. Narrowing the focus to workers’ comp, in Florida, COVID-19 claims made up 15% of all indemnity claims,3 while the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) estimates that in California, COVID-19 claim costs will range anywhere from $600 million to $2 billion.4

With states reopening and individuals reentering the workforce after socially isolating, the idea of what constitutes a safe workplace has changed, and the term "return to work" now takes on a whole new meaning.

In addition to the complexities of reintroducing injured workers to the workforce, employers now must incorporate risk management strategies that protect their entire employee population from viral exposure. Meanwhile, the industry is tackling other new challenges that have emerged due to the enormous and ubiquitous impact of COVID-19.

Components of Successful Return to Work Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Reduce barriers to care to facilitate injured worker recovery
  • Consider unique risks of special populations, including specific job roles and employees with comorbidities
  • Implement measures to foster a safe workplace to protect all employees, including those returning from injury or illness
  • Account for the impacts of employees returning to work following viral infection

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