Safety and OSHA News

Job security speeds workers’ recovery from injury

A recent study identifies some new predictors of how workers will recover after they are injured at work and collect workers’ compensation benefits. 

The study, Predictors of Worker Outcomes by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, found trust in the workplace to be one of the more important predictors that hadn’t been examined before.

Interviewers asked workers if they were concerned about being fired as a result of their injury. The following are some results:

  • Workers who were strongly concerned about being fired after their injury experienced poorer return-to-work outcomes than workers without those concerns.
  • One in five workers who were concerned about being fired weren’t working at the time of the interview. That’s double the rate for workers without similar concerns. Among workers who weren’t concerned about being fired, one in ten wasn’t working at the time of the interview.
  • Concerns about being fired were associated with a four-week increase in the average duration of disability.

The study also looked at comorbidities – medical conditions existing simultaneously with the workplace injury – and found:

  • Workers with hypertension (high blood pressure) had a 3 percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury.
  • Workers with heart problems reported an 8 percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury and had disability duration that was four weeks longer, and
  • Workers with diabetes had a 4 percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury than workers without diabetes.

The study is based on telephone interviews with 3,200 injured workers in eight states: Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. The employees interviewed suffered a workplace injury in 2010 and received workers’ compensation benefits. They were interviewed, on average, about three years after their injuries.

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