Each year, the Division of Worker’s Compensation Colorado creates a massive and comprehensive report recapping the prior year’s work injuries. This data contains many detailed statistics and facts about claims. These statistics cover fatalities in on-the-job injuries, the types of industries where injuries are likely to occur, and what genders or ages are the most injured. We look at data from 2013 to observe some trends indicating what the most fatal and costly work injuries in Colorado are.
In 2013, there were 73 fatal on-the-job injuries. Of these 73, nearly 92 percent or 67 people, were men. Of the 73, just six were killed, which is about 8.2 percent. By and large the most dangerous gender and age to be injured is males in the age range of fifty to fifty-nine years of age. In 2013, 31% of on-the-job fatalities were from people in their fifties. The next most common age range behind the fifties is people in their forties with a total of 23%. About 20% were people over 65 years old. Most of the injured persons either fall into the married or separated category.
Not only are certain demographics of people at risk, certain industries and professions have more opportunity for on-the-job injuries to occur than others. Particularly those working around heavy machinery, heights, scaffolds, etc. have a greater chance of being exposed to danger. Additionally those who work with hazardous equipment, electricity, chemicals and massively dangerous chemicals also are subjected to an injury. Most fatalities though come from the transportation and warehousing sectors of employment. Largely these fatalities are a result of car crashes.
When it comes to defining and understanding workers compensation, the most costly injuries are ranked by cause of injury and what is called lost time injuries. In terms of worker’s compensation, an injury is only categorized as lost time injury unless three or more shifts (or days) of lost work occur. This classification is what causes employers and companies to go to great lengths to reduce injuries that do not lead to more than three days or three shifts of lost time.
The number one kind of injury that leads to lost time at work is strains – accounting for a grand total of 36.4% of lost time injuries. Strains are when you are lifting, reaching or stretching and feel a pop or twist in your back, arms, or legs. The biggest in terms of cost are going to be a worker lifting, pushing, or pulling something that will end up being very expensive to treat. Following strains are contusions making up 13% of high cost, lost time injuries. Contusions include bumps, bruises, anything that happens when you’ve been knocked into or knock into something. Finally, fractures and lacerations make up six percent and under.
While it is a shame that injuries are even occurring so regularly, in Colorado we have a worker’s compensation system that puts laws in place to make sure that you and your loved ones have immediate access to basic benefits if a worker is injured while performing employment duties. These basic benefits include medical benefits, lost time benefits, lost wage benefits, and some compensation for what is called a personal impairment. There are other minor benefits and other major benefits like permanent total disability.
The vast majority of injured workers are going to get 100% coverage of medical care, lost time during treatment, and some form of an impairment rating. How much one gets depends on factors of the injury, the adjuster, the employee’s doctor, and other components. The most important thing as an injured worker in Colorado is to realize all of the parties involved in this are motivated by one thing: to pay the least amount possible. The problem here is that you must cover the costs of what they are paying for when they only pay the least amount possible. This is why injured workers need someone who knows the system inside and out and can fight for them and push back to try to get them the most benefits possible.
As much as we hope that injuries on the job in Colorado do not occur in this new year, there is always a possibility for accidents to take place. You need someone who will help you make sure you get the most that you are entitled to under worker’s compensation laws. That team is Kaplan Morrell. We are here to help you, please feel free to give us a call at 970-356-9698 or visit our website for more information.