April 7, 2019

The Impact of the Changing Workforce

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) released a new report on changing workforce demographics and their impacts on workplace injury.

According to NCCI, workplace injuries have fallen by one-third, although this is not attributable to any one segment of the workforce; workplace injury rates fell among all workers. However, the report notes that different patient demographics experienced different types of injuries more frequently, indicating that with shifting demographics may come shifts in the types of injuries seen in claims.

Key highlights of the report include:

  • The share of workers aged 55+ increased by one-third
  • Female employment has grown slightly
  • Younger workers have lower injury frequency than older workers, a reversal from 10 years ago
  • Younger workers have relatively more contact injuries and fewer falls, slips and trips
  • Men have higher injury frequency than women, primarily driven by contact injuries, though male injuries are concentrated in sectors that have high contact injury rates
  • Goods-producing sectors, such as Construction and Manufacturing, have higher injury frequency that most service sectors
  • Injury frequency rankings between sectors have not changed

Insights such as these speak further to how care programs must accommodate a workforce that continues to diversify in order to promote more positive patient outcomes.

For instance, as the aging workforce continues to grow, one in four workers is expected to be aged 55 or older within the next decade, highlighting the need for care programs to examine how they should approach medication management and comorbidities for aging populations.

But on the other end of the spectrum, the younger millennial segment of the workforce is also growing. Soon they are expected to make up half the workforce, and not only is this workforce more culturally diverse – which may come with unique health considerations depending on cultural impact towards health – but this population is more receptive to utilizing technology, alternative therapies, medical marijuana, and psychosocial counseling, a far step from patients of the past.

And of course, as the female workforce grows to nearly half the workforce, it is critical that care programs understand that women face different drug therapy risks than men. In some cases, this is due to biological factors, such as hormonal and body composition differences, and sometimes it is due to social factors, such as how differently doctors prescribe medications to women when compared to men.

But it isn’t just women who experience different narratives with drug therapy; there are significant risk disparities with opioid use among diverse populations. Different demographics experience different opioid risks, and this includes ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, mental health, age, gender, and occupation.

The workforce will only continue to diversify as time goes on, making it important that workers’ comp professionals stay ahead of evolving trends to provide the best care possible suited for unique patient populations.

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