The United States has long valued industrious workers, and vice versa. From the beginning, immigrants saw America as the land of opportunity, a chance to leave the rigid class system of the Old World behind. The first draft of the Declaration of Independence read “life, liberty and the pursuit of property,” until it was changed to “the pursuit of happiness.”
Since those days, U.S. workers have moved from the farm to the factory and now the office. What also has evolved over the decades are workplace protections, first put into place to limit child labor and create fair working hours and later focusing on increased safety.
And, of course, one of the most significant protections is workers compensation, which gives employees the right to medical care and monetary compensation in the face of temporary or permanent injuries sustained on the job.
Just as the workplace has changed, so have safety concerns. The emergence of an information economy has led to a new emphasis on ergonomics. “Ergonomics and time and motion studies help lower the injury risks for employees in both industrial and office settings,” says Zane Tenenbaum, one of our regional managers in field case management. “It’s hugely important.”
At the same time, the recent recession and modern healthcare mean that workers are postponing retirement, and many companies are making changes to mitigate workplace risks specific to older employees. You may have heard Gary Anderberg, our practice leader for analytics, discussing how to address those risks at recent industry conferences, or seen our Aging Up! presentation in person or on our web site.
The workplace and risks associated with it will continue to evolve, as will the challenges facing the workers compensation industry. Claims and medical management providers and employers, for example, must work together to address the alarming trend in opioid use, which is driving up medical expenses and, far worse, impacting the safety and well-being of claimants.
Like just about everyone else in the United States, we’re back on the job after Labor Day, tackling issues of importance to our clients and claimants. In honor of a holiday that pays tribute to workers around the nation, I’d like to thank all our employees for striving to make every workday happy, healthy and safe for others.