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Finding Your Biggest Risk Areas: Demographic Data Can Give You a Clue

Toby Graham /
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Your organization’s workplace demographics tell a story. It’s a story about access and opportunity, a story about diversity, a story about our changing societal norms and attitudes. It’s a story about your organization’s values, about your industry and your place in it, about where you’ve come from and where you’re going.

It’s also increasingly a story about workplace injuries and workers’ compensation costs. 

That’s according to a new study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. Titled “Changing Workforce Demographics and Workplace Injury Frequency,” the study looked at 10 years of data and found significant correlations between the kinds of people present in a workplace and the types of incidents that occur. 

Risk & Insurance reports that “NCCI examined injury trends between 2006 and 2017, breaking down the data by industry sector, age, and gender,” with patterns “suggest[ing] that the contrast in injuries across demographic characteristics is worth closer attention.” 

Specifically, NCCI’s findings show that compared to their younger colleagues, older workers are as likely or more to experience falls, slips, and other injuries:

“In 2006, incidence rates were successively higher for younger age categories. Since 2006, workers in the two younger categories have had larger frequency declines. In 2017, workers aged 25–44 became the group with the lowest incidence rates, in part due to an uptick for workers aged 65 and older. Workers aged 16–24 had similar frequency to workers aged 45–64.”

The study also revealed data trends related to gender. Although “injury rates for men remain higher than for women, mostly because of gender disparity in high-risk sectors like construction,” the difference appears to be shrinking. Injuries that were 34% more common for men in 2006 were only 17% more common in 2017. R&I advises you to use this data to your advantage—e.g. “to mine [your] claim data to identify demographic trends worth addressing, such as an increased focus on floor safety for walking surfaces.” Associate editor Michelle Kerr writes: 

“An employer that, for instance, can’t swing a full safety shoe program for its workers in this year’s budget might instead develop a pilot shoe program for departments with higher concentrations of older, female employees—the highest risk group. Or a manufacturer might overhaul its training module on avoiding contact with objects or equipment in order to better appeal to the men and younger workers who are at elevated risk.”

Read “How Will You Spend Your Safety Dollars? Focus Your WC Goals With Demographic Data.” 

To access the complete NCCI report, click here.

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