Today holds tomorrow’s opportunities. Things are changing every minute of the day. From updates to your favorite website and even the weather outside. The same thing goes for lawyers and workers’ compensation. Things really changed for workers’ compensation after OSHA was introduced in 1972. Since then, work place safety has increased, but there are always going to be bumps along the way. With new laws regarding to healthcare and patient privacy, there is some uncertainty what the future holds for workers’ compensation. In this post we are going to highlight four notable challenges we foresee in the area of workers’ compensation.
Technology and Innovation
Most of us have recently been to the doctor and, even if you haven’t visited lately, all of your medical records are now digital. Prescriptions are not filled out on a piece of paper any more! Thanks to e-mail and heavy duty servers, all of our records are stored for the doctors and patients to see instantly. This technology and innovation could easily transfer over to workers’ compensation, but right now it’s lagging behind. Currently, the Veterans Administration has a program set up called the Blue Button Project. This project essentially gives all veterans receiving medical attention a tool to make their patient medical records easily available, free to download, and share with members of their health care providers. Workers’ compensation would benefit from a portal like this in a way that keeps claim admins aware of proper wellness programs and make sure that people are actually attending doctor visits.
The Manufacturing Business
As you may or may not know, but the United States is on the rise again in global manufacturing. China still remains the world’s top country in terms of manufacturing competitiveness, but its position is under pressure due to rising labor and transportation costs as well as lagging productivity growth. The United States is on the rise because of several big factors. The price of natural gas has fallen substantially. A few other factors resulting in the rise of U.S. manufacturing are rising work productivity and the lack of upward wage pressure. Despite that, there is a steady pace is the wage growth of people working in the manufacturing business.
With higher wage rates and an increase in business, there will be an increase in younger hires. This could cause an increase in workers’ compensation, and therefore it’s up to the companies if they want to pay the price for more employees which could raise the cost of insurance, or increase the chances of people getting hurt.
The last paragraph brings us to our next challenge: workplace safety. This is one area of the workers’ comp system that has seen tremendous change over the past 30 years. There’s not doubt that we will continue to see changes in the future. Thanks to the implementation of OSHA in 1972, this was the first major step towards workplace safety. Right now, OSHA is working with the Justice Department. People are going to jail for doing things that are willfully unsafe in the workplace. People are getting seriously hurt and even dying. This ties back in with the increase in manufacturing in the United States. OSHA will be fairly active the next couple years as the U.S. sees an increase in employment and manufacturing.
Here’s one staggering stat: the mobile workforce has grown by nearly 80 percent since 2005. With that in mind, how does workers’ compensation deal with that increased mobility? When your bedroom is only several feet from your office, you may trip on a kid’s toy and end up breaking a bone, or hurting your face while falling. Who is technically at fault? What, if anything, will the employer do about it? A mobile workforce presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses and their workers’ compensation insurers.
Workers’ compensation has come a long way and still has potential to become better. This can be done by getting it up to speed with today’s available technology as well a catering to the new work styles such as working remotely, and the increase in manufacturing business. These are just some ideas to keep in mind as we continue each day. To learn more about how these industry changes affect your work comp case, contact Carpenter Law Firm today.