Safety and OSHA News

Weighing comp claims: Obese workers cost much more

Those extra pounds mean extra dollars when it comes to workers’ comp claims — a lot of extra dollars. 

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is out with a new study showing that the duration of benefits paid out to obese workers who file claims is more than five times as long as it is for claims filed by their healthy-weight counterparts.

To arrive at that figure, NCCI researchers matched claims that were comparable in every way, except for weight of the claimant and age at the time of injury. They then used a device to minimize the potential impact of age.

And they examined claims provided by insurance companies in 40 states over a period of 11 years.

The findings reinforce several earlier studies, including one by Duke University.

The Duke study found that medical costs for morbidly obese employees were almost seven times as high, that morbidly obese workers were twice as likely to file claims, and that when they missed time, obese workers missed almost 13 times as many days as their non-obese co-workers.

It’s increasingly clear that just about anything you can do to help overweight employees trim down is likely to be a good investment.

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  1. “It’s increasingly clear that just about anything you can do to help overweight employees trim down is likely to be a good investment.”

    Or just make the physical requirements of the job description so stringent that they cannot possibly meet the requirements to get the job in the first place…

  2. Up goes my BS flag. I am sick of hearing about “the rich” and “fat people”. Guest you are full of cacapoopoo. Where I work, in manufacturing, there is a great diverse of people….and when you go through the list tall, short, thin, fat, black, white, brown, republicans, democrats, smokers, non smokers and on and on who gets to set up the requirements to get the job in the first place–I would devise a criteria that would identify “people like you” and you would never be able to meet the requirement. I find the skinny smokers to be the biggest waste of timer’s on the payroll.

  3. This is defenately a catch 22. Yes it’s nice to offer help and support to those who need it for what ever health reasons they may have. Smoking, drinking, weight it doesn’t matter. Just keep in mind that if you offer, advise, incourage or how ever else you want to word it you open your company up for all kinds of liabilities. As sad as it is that’s the truth and reason you don’t see as many company sponsored softball, bowling or picnic events. Yep, a few bad apples spoiled it for the rest of us

  4. Agreed.

  5. Christopher says:

    We’ve had an employee out on comp for over a year because the doctor won’t perform the surgery she needs until she loses weight. That’s a lot of time we wouldn’t have bought with a “healthy” employee.

  6. Christopher- I hope you are working with your comp carrier and doctors. How about a request for an IME and a referral to ANOTHER DOCTOR this sounds like the BS flag to me. In my long line of comp claims-it has been the injured employee not the doctor holding up the show. I do not know all of your circumstances but I have seen surger done on pretty hefty people and they returned to work. Good luck with this one, the longer they are off the better they like it. Don’t forget that while she is off on workers compensation she is still in your employ. She still has to follow company procedures and rules.

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