08 Feb 2017’s Biggest Workers’ Compensation Trends (Part Two)
At Bloom Law Office, we start the New Year by reflecting on the major trends from 2017. See part two of our 2017 roundup and stay up to date on workers’ compensation changes that may impact you if you suffer a work-related injury.
Mental Health and Workers’ Compensation
In the workers’ compensation world, mental health continues to make big waves. For years, there was the myth that mental health was separate from workers’ compensation – that’s not true. However, it can still be a challenge when it comes to filing claims. Mental health ranks within the top five causes of short-term disability for all types of workers. Mental health can impact productivity and safety. How employers address mental health is positively changing, but we still have a long battle ahead of us.
Marijuana and Workers’ Compensation
The so-called “impaired workforce” is another big discussion item. With numerous states now allowing recreational marijuana use, it’s estimated that 20% of people in these states indulge. It can also mean that a large number of the workforce is impaired, which brings the idea of pre-employment drug testing full circle. Years ago when this was the norm, it was tough to get enough applicants to pass. The 2016 OSHA regulations also make drug testing a challenge. With marijuana, since it stays in the body around 30 days after use, it’s impossible to know if a worker is “impaired” on the job or not.
Alternatives for Opioid Use
The discussion of alternatives for opioid use in the treatment of chronic pain persisted in 2017, too. The country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic and prioritizing alternatives is at the top of the list for many in the medical industry as well as employers at large. Non-opioid treatments as part of workers’ compensation claims are expected to rise, but the big issue is coverage. Insurers pay for opioids quickly, which fed the problem, but aren’t nearly as quick to pay for alternatives.
Occupational Disease and Workers’ Compensation
There’s been an increase in occupational disease discussion in the past year. We’ve learned that being exposed to some substances can cause diseases like cancer. However, it can take several years post-exposure for these diseases to manifest. We’re just now seeing an influx of mesothelioma victims decades after exposure. Such a long lag can cause coverage holes. As science gets better at pinpointing the sources of the diseases, and as more people step forward, it’s likely that there will be an increase in workers’ compensation claims due to delayed occupational diseases.
Complimentary Workers’ Compensation Case Review with Jeffrey M. Bloom
Interested in learning more? Keep an eye out for the third and final part in the Bloom Law Office 2017 roundup series, or give us a call at 855-208-3650.