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Do Hotel Employer-Sponsored Fitness Programs Reduce Worker's Compensation Claims?

Posted by Mike Wright on August 19, 2015

Do Hotel Employer-Sponsored Fitness Programs Reduce Worker's Compensation Claims? http://blog.onsite-physio.com/workplace-wellness-programs/do-hotel-employer-sponsored-fitness-programs-reduce-workers-compensation-claims @onsitephysio

Health care premiums have become an accepted cost of doing business in today’s market. However, health care of any kind is a hot button issue in the news today. Recent changes in the law and general economic changes have caused premiums to rise.

Businesses are looking for ways to cut costs. They don't want to give up more money for employee health care. Some are passing the extra cost to the employees themselves. As a bid to reduce medical claims by creating healthier employees. Others are adding an employee wellness program.  Wellness programs are all the rage for large corporations with sedentary employees. 

Do wellness programs work for any industry?

The benefits of a wellness program are manifest. But they have mostly been the domain of human resources. Risk management is just now getting in on the action.

Recently the question has been posed:

Is there evidence to suggest that a wellness program can reduce the length of worker’s compensation claims? 

Could they even prevent those claims in the first place?

It’s easy to be reticent. Implementing a fitness or wellness program is a long-term and expensive endeavor. The average expense per person is $150-$300 per year. Moreover, it can take 2-3 years before you see results of a program. You want to be sure that the expense will pay dividends.

Programs can also include an employer paying for an employee’s gym membership, on-site exercise facilities or even implement outdoor & indoor group exercise programs.

There are also studies that link workers’ compensation claims with preexisting health conditions (comorbidities) that are unrelated to the claim. These comorbidities can and do contribute to the severity and length of an employee's recovery.

One study found that workers' compensation claims for employees with a comorbidity can double medical costs. Compared to similar claims without the comorbidity.

Risk factors that are identified on the standard health risk assessment (HRA) include:

  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • High blood pressure or Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Life/job dissatisfaction 

One risk factor that was clearly more prevalent in the comorbidities study was obesity.

One study found that over-weight claimants medical costs are 6.8% higher than someone of a normal range body-weight. The study also shows that claims for employees diagnosed obese have tripled from 2000 to 2009. The numbers jumped from 2.4% to 6.6%.

The NCCI also found that the lost work time of these obese claimants is high. An obese claimant's lost-time is thirteen times longer than those who aren’t identified obese.

All this data shows that unfit or overweight workers make for more extensive workers compensation claims. It makes sense for a company to step in and create a fitness and wellness program. A program that will help workers to improve their health. Consequently cut the costs of worker’s compensation and related medical expenses.

Housekeeper in a hotel who is happy about her return-to-work rates

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