While newly hired workers generally expect a learning curve at their new job, they do not expect serious workplace injuries to occur shortly after commencing employment. However, a new study shows that recently hired workers injured on the job are more likely to file Workers’ Compensation claims than more seasoned employees. This raises questions about the nature of these claims. On the one hand, new workers may have lacked sufficient training to recognize hazards on the job, and subsequently suffered injuries. On the other hand, these workers may be filing fraudulent claims.
Conducted by researchers at the renowned Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, the study involved analyzing employee data from an academic medical center, tracking just over 5,900 injuries between 1994 and 2017. The major indicator for injury was the amount of time the hire had spent on the job, with new workers far more likely to report injuries.
Researchers did not consider employment history or possible risk factors, but did find that workers experiencing a job-related injury within the initial six months of employment were twice as likely to suffer three or more injuries leading to time off work during their entire employment at this job. In addition, researchers found that for every year employed before the initial injury, the odds of experiencing three or more such injuries dropped by 13 percent.
Statistically, more people are injured in the early weeks of employment than later in their job history. This is understandable since learning to use new equipment safely takes time, but it also reflects many of the poor training programs currently used by employers. For example, training for many workers consists of watching a video or going through an online program. There is little to no engagement with an instructor or the opportunity to ask questions. If new workers are ending up with the same types of injuries, the reason is far more likely inadequate job training than fraud. If the employer notices a pattern of new workers suffering similar injuries, it is incumbent upon them to see how the work is being performed and what new workers are doing that puts them in harm’s way.
While there is an argument over how many of these early work injury claims are related to fraud rather than improper training, researchers note that fraudulent claims generally involve musculoskeletal injuries. Very few fraudulent claimants deliberately harm themselves in ways leading to permanent impairment, such as amputation. Some early injured workers are serial claimants, having gone from job to job, reporting similar claims. Repeat offenders tend to litigate such injuries right away, immediately hiring an attorney rather than going through the standard Workers’ Compensation claim process.
If you suffered a workplace injury shortly after employment, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP. We will review your case and obtain the benefits you rightfully deserve for your injuries. For a free consultation, call us today at 267-589-0090 or complete an online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.