Most Workplaces Outside of Healthcare Won’t See High Rate of COVID-19 WC Claims, Study Suggests

Nancy Grover

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The healthcare industry has, by far, the highest proportion of accepted workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19, according to new research. In fact, out of more than 21,000 claims analyzed, healthcare was the only industrial classification that was “at significantly higher COVID-19 WC claim submission risk, controlling for type of employment, gender, age and presumption of COVID-19 work relatedness,” according to researchers. Their findings suggest that most workplaces other than healthcare may not see a high frequency of COVID-19 related workers’ compensation claims.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University looked at 21,336 workers’ compensation claims from Accident Fund filed between Jan.1, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2020. Eleven midwestern states were included: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Their results were published in the Journal of Occupational and Envoronmental Medicie.

“The purpose of this investigation is to quantify the differences in the proportion of COVID19 related and non-COVID-19 related injuries and illnesses reported through the workers’ compensation system by industrial classification,” the authors wrote. “Our interest is to determine which occupational groups have a greater risk of acquiring an occupationally related COVID-19 infection and submitting a WC claim for it relative to WC claims for all other injuries, controlling for presumption legislation or executive orders.”

The finding that healthcare workers are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 by virtue of their work was not surprising to the researchers, who said that confirms what many other reports and studies have determined. Nor was the finding that healthcare workers in residential facilities and skilled nursing were at high risk of contracting the virus.

‘What may be more important to employees and employers outside the healthcare industry, is our finding that risk of exposure and submitting a job related COVID-19 WC claim is lower than the mostly physical hazards of the industry itself of submitting a non-COVID-19 occupational injury or illness WC claim,” their report said. “Even controlling for states with a rebuttable presumption of COVID-19 work-relatedness for healthcare and other high risk occupations, the only industrial category where a relationship between submitting a WC claim and occupation could be demonstrated, was healthcare. This suggests that the vast majority of workplaces will not be subject to a high frequency of COVID-19 related WC claims over the course of the pandemic.”

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