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Why Fitness for Duty Testing and Ergonomics are So Important Today

11 Jan

Preventing on the job injuries has never been more important to industries. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are increasing and costing employers over $20 billion a year in direct costs (with a multiple of 3-4 x for indirect costs). The average workers compensation claims ranges from $29,000 – $32,000 per injury. Up to 45.4% of injuries occur during the first year on the job (BLS, 2013) indicating the result of poorly matching employees’ abilities to the job in many cases.  To make matters worse, fraudulent workers compensation and social security disability claims are on the rise, costing the U.S. as much as $180 billion annually. (http://www.insurancefraud.org). Malingering to obtain Social Security Disability is high, occurring in 45.8% – 59.7% of adult cases (Social Security Administration). Of these cases, the majority of malingering is related to magnifying an actual physical injury rather than fabricating symptoms without any basis. Magnifying mental disorders to claim disability is also prevalent and often correlated to job dissatisfaction and lack of job engagement.

Obviously, preventing on the job injuries and improving the ergonomic and cultural (psychosocial) work environment is critical to improve productivity and avoid both legitimate and illegitimate disability claims.  The good news is that there are methods that an employer can utilize to effectively address these problems.

A properly performed fitness for duty (FFD) program can prevent many of the first-year injuries and provide pre-injury baseline data that can be used to help defend against fraudulent post-injury claims. Return to work FFD tests can be used to ensure that proper work accommodations are rendered to avoid re-injury and can identify behaviors that may signal a red flag for malingering.

The ROI from FFD testing has been shown to range from 8:1 to 13:1. Since 70% of health care expenses are associated with preventable conditions, improving ergonomics and the psychosocial environment is critical and has been shown to result in a cost benefit ratio ranging from $1.50 – $6.15 for every $1 invested.

For more information on FFD testing and /or ergonomics, please contact WorkSaver at (800)414-2174 or e-mail atrahan@worksaversystems.com .

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