Posts Tagged ‘NCCI’

Taking Credit When It’s Due (And When It’s Not)

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Politicians have proven over and over again to be the most adept people in the known universe at taking credit for good things happening with which they had absolutely no involvement and blaming others for bad things happening with which they were directly connected. Case in point is happening right now in the Hawkeye state of Iowa where workers’ compensation rates for 2018 are going down 8.7%.

About a nanosecond after NCCI announced the rate reduction, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds issued a press release claiming the rate decline to be the “direct result” of workers’ compensation legislative reforms that went into effect in July, which, if you happen to be counting, ended 51 days ago as I write this. Phew. That was quick.

Of course, while the new reforms may reduce costs in the future, they have nothing at all to do with the recently announced rate cut, which, according to NCCI, is predicated on a decrease in claim frequency and actuarial data from 2014 and 2015, which, if you’re still counting, is a full 18 months before the new reforms, to whose sticking post Reynolds has now glued himself.

It will be interesting to see, over time, if the new reforms reduce costs for Iowa’s employers and enhance care for its injured workers. That’ll be a neat trick for which Kim Reynolds can justifiably stand up and take a bow at some date in the future, say around 2019.

Here’s a little ditty to go out on:

It’s a little early for the Reynolds curtain call
But if things don’t work out, who takes the fall?

 

NCCI “State of the Line” for Work Comp

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

At its Annual Issues symposium held last week, NCCI offered it’s State of the Line, an overview of the health of the work comp industry. The press release NCCI offers a summary:Calm Now … But Turbulence Ahead Outlook for Workers Compensation Industry. For more detail, see Chief Actuary Kathy Antonello’s presentation slides (PDF) reviewing workers compensation trends, cost drivers, and the significant new developments shaping the industry. And for other presentations and reports, see News from the Annual Issues Symposium 2015.

Some of the report highlights:

  • The workers compensation calendar year combined ratio for private carriers was 98 in 2014, a four-point decrease from 2013 and a 17-point decline since 2011
  • Total market net written premium increased by approximately 6% to $44.2 billion, driven primarily by an increase in payroll
  • Claim frequency declined 2% in NCCI states
  • Claim severity increased slightly more than inflation measures for indemnity and medical costs
  • While workers compensation premium volume continues to increase, construction and manufacturing employment totals remain well below prerecession levels–restraining even higher premium growth rates
  • A continuing low-interest-rate environment threatens investment results over the long term
  • Last year marked the fourth consecutive year of workers compensation residual market premium growth. Premiums grew by approximately 7% in 2014, while the average market share in the residual market held steady at 8%

In addition, NCCI President Stephen Klingel added commentary on market turbulence:

“From ongoing threats to exclusive remedy, to the risk of benefit increases without appropriate rate adjustments, to the rapidly changing nature of our workforce and workplaces, our industry is being tried on all sides today. While I am confident that we will work our way through these challenges, it is important to be realistic about current conditions and to recognize that the current positive results may not last.”

For the next best thing to being at the symposium, it’s worth checking out Joe Paduda’s running commentary on the various NCCI sessions…

First up at NCCI – Work comp is looking better…

The State of the Workers’ Comp Line – 2015 ed.

Listening fast to Bob Hartwig

NCCI’s PM sessions – hard core research geeks only

Listening fast to Bob Hartwig

Another great source of conference blogging is Mark Walls at Safety National – who blogged not just this NCCI symposium, but many other industry events and reports too — if you don’t have Conference Chronicles bookmarked, you should!

Here are reports from some other media outlets

Stephanie Goldberg, Business Insurance
Turbulent times ahead for workers compensation

Andrews G. Simpson, Claims Journal
Workers’ Compensation Results Improved in 2014 But Industry Anxious About What’s Ahead

Workers’ Comp Annual “Must-Read” Doc: The NCCI Issues Report

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Workers’ comp geeks and nerds, your wait is over: NCCI’s 2012 Workers’ Compensation Issues Report is out. For the uninitiated, NCCI stands for “National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc.” NCCI manages the nation’s largest database of workers compensation insurance information, supplying data to more than 900 insurance companies and nearly 40 state governments.See the NCCI state map for a quick glance of states that use NCCI as their licensed rating and statistical organization. NCCI describes the services it offers as “analyzes industry trends, prepares workers compensation insurance rate recommendations, determines the cost of proposed legislation, and provides a variety of services and tools to maintain a healthy workers compensation system.”
So the Annual Issues Report is a rather big deal – arguably one of the most important workers’ comp documents of the year. It offers an annual checkup on the health of market, along with discussion of trends, legislative changes, and the like. Plus, informed commentary on hot topics from various industry leaders.
The cornerstone document in the report is President and CEO Stephen Klingel’s annual update, this year entitled Workers Compensation Market Struggles to Identify a Direction (PDF). Klingel notes that it’s no easy matter offering any forecasts because we are in a time of uncertainties and adjustments as we make the long, slow climb from the recession. A few of his observations we found noteworthy:

  • In what is referred to as “the most surprising and disturbing negative
    development,” claims frequency saw its first increase in 13 years.
  • After 6 years of decline in the residual market (aka, “market of last resort” or “the pool”), NCCI is seeing initial signs of an increase.
  • Direct written premium is showing some growth.
  • State results show deterioration, with the ratio of increases in loss costs to declines doubling in just two years, a trend that is expected to continue in 2012.
  • Key quote: “With investment yields at historic lows, the current levels of underwriting losses are not sustainable. Even with what appears to be a temporary increase in investment gains, the combined ratio needs to decline substantially to earn a reasonable return on capital.”

Goring forward, uncertainties prevail. There are many wild cards that make forecasting difficult, with two big ones being the effect of the economic recovery and the 2012 election. And while there have been both troubling indicators (a rise in frequency, signs of residual market growth) and more positive indicators (improved investment scenario, growth in written premium), it is too soon to say if any of these are the beginnings of a trend.
Here’s an overview of other articles included in the Issues Report – all available for download, and all worth your time.

  • Robert P. Hartwig looks at the labor market recovery and the impact on insurers
  • Harry Shuford talks about the economy and what it will take to get us moving again
  • Peter Burton offers a legislative outlook, in which he recaps some of the major changes in 2011 and looks ahead to 2012
  • Joe Paduda looks at some key issues driving medical costs, opioid overprescribing and physician dispensing
  • Nancy Grover offers an overview of the state of insurance technologies
  • Tanya Restrepo and Harry Shuford write about the aging workforce and its effect on comp
  • Jim Davis and Yair Bar-Chaim examine the first rise in injury claims frequency in more than a decade
  • Dennis Mealy and Karen Ayres discuss the history of ratemaking in workers compensation
  • Charles Tenser examines four of the most discussed legal challenges involving workers comp

Hurry Up and Wait: NCCI’s Slow Road to Big Changes in Experience Rating

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Back in September we blogged NCCI’s pending changes in experience rating plans. While initially proposed for this fall, the new implementation schedule (contained in NCCI Circular Letter E-1402) does not even begin until January 2013, at which time 18 states will kick off the program. The other 21 states will follow throughout the year, with Utah being the last, in December. We have more than a year to figure out the implications of raising primary losses from $5,000 first to $10,000 and eventually to $15,000 and even higher. The rules are going to change and, as is so often the case, there will be some winners and some losers.
Rating’s Black Box
In the course of retooling the black box that is experience modification, NCCI’s actuaries will set the numbers that determine exactly how the new plans will operate. To date, there has been no word on the D ratio – the percentage of total losses that are expected to fall below the primary split. This will be the key factor in analyzing the implications of the new rating plans.
No matter where this number is set, one thing is certain: employers with higher than expected losses will see their experience mods go up higher than under the current system; at the same time, employers with lower than expected losses may see their mods drop even lower than under the current rules. NCCI pledges that the new plans will be revenue neutral: overall premiums will remain the same. [Legislative approval in each state would be required if the new rating plans resulted in increased premiums.]
One important feature of the new system is its dynamic nature: unlike the current rating plan, where the primary loss split point remained at $5,000 for over 20 years, the split point going forward will rise as losses rise.
Educated Consumers
What does all this mean for experience-rated employers? It’s important to understand exactly how the new system will work. Sticker shock awaits those who ignore the implications of escalating primary losses. The Insider will do its best to alert employers to the details of the new calculations, along with a user-friendly walk-through of the entire experience rating process. No, it’s not our idea of fun, but with billions in insurance premium on the table, it will certainly be worth the effort. Stay tuned.

Health Wonkery and other news of note

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Health Wonkery – Christopher Fleming hosts Health Wonk Review Unadorned at the Health Affairs Blog. Check out the latest from the best of the health policy bloggers. And if healthcare is of concern to you, Health Affairs should be a regular read!
Bad behavior – When it comes to bad behavior, we are equal opportunity finger pointers. We’ve seen fraudulent employees. We’ve seen terrible bosses. We’ve seen bad brokers, bad insurers, and quack docs. Fraud is a game everyone can play and no one has a corner on the stupidity market. Among the recent crop of losers, we start with a post from HR Web Cafe about a mean-spirited employer who got a smackdown from a labor judge for a rather unusual contest he used to “motivate” his workers to better performance. And also on the employer side of the house, we have a classic case of premium fraud by a California tree trimming business that failed to pay workers comp premiums, under-reported payroll by more than $2 million, and failed to pay taxes. On the employee side, Roberto Ceniceros tells the story of nightmare employees who let rage over a small thing turn into a tragic event.
Spying on Employees – Employment law attorney Heather Bussing offers some useful guidelines on employee privacy and what employers can monitor. This is a really good overview. We encourage reading the entire article. Here’s some of her take-aways: “If the employer owns the system, hardware or both, the employer can monitor employees’ use of it, including personal files and communications.
If the employee owns the system and hardware, the employer’s ability to view and obtain personal files depends on the whether the employee is using it at work, whether the employer has a legitimate interest in viewing the communication, what the state’s laws and employer’s policies are, and what the employee’s objective expectations of privacy are.”

Repackaged Drugs – Joe Paduda has been in the forefront of a crusade against the practice of repackaged drugs, which has been promoted as a convenience for patients, but in practice is a costly work around for fee schedules. This is one of those under-the-radar issues that many employers may not see, but in states where the practice is allowed, it is costing big bucks. Joe first talked about the practice in 2006, and has been regularly posting updates. He brings you the latest from the eye of the storm: Is Florida finally going to fix its (repackaged) drug problem?
OSHA – OSHA has recently issued Nail Gun Safety – A Guide for Construction Contactors. OSHA says that nail gun injuries are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits annually. “These injuries occur as a result of unintended nail discharge; nails that bounce off a hard surface or miss the work piece and become airborne; and disabling the gun’s safety features, among other causes. Injury prevention is possible if contractors take steps such as using full sequential trigger nail guns; establishing nail gun work procedures; and providing workers with personal protective equipment.”
Child Workers – Celest Monforton gets the bureaucratic runaround when she tries to find out why child labor regulations were delayed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. A Labor Department update to the 40-year old regulations were stalled for 9 months – meanwhile, two teens lost legs in a grain auger accident, precisely the type of event that made such an update to regulations imperative.
Excess Loss Development – NCCI had released a new research report on Workers Compensation Excess Loss Development. They note that, “Large loss and excess development is relevant to calculating excess loss factors used in retrospective rating.”
News Briefs

Experience Modification Alert: NCCI Changing the Rules

Monday, September 26th, 2011

It’s been over 20 years since NCCI changed the rules relating to the calculation of the experience modification factor. Given that experience modification determines the cost of insurance for all but self-insured employers, these changes require careful scrutiny. While some of the details have not yet been announced, one thing is clear: employers with higher-than-expected losses are likely to pay more for insurance. [NOTE: the Insider apologizes in advance for what is inevitably a rather technical discussion. For readers who would like additional background, check out our 2004 primer here.]
Under the current system, claim dollars – what’s been paid and what’s been set aside for future payment on each claim – fall into one of three categories:
Primary losses: the first $5,000 of each claim. These losses carry the most weight and drive up the experience mod much quicker than the losses above $5,000.
Excess losses: the losses above $5,000 within each claim. These are discounted in the calculation, with as little as 10 percent of the total included in the calculation (depending upon the size of the premium)
State Rating Point: the cap on individual claim dollars beyond which the losses are excluded from the calculation; this varies from state to state, generally falling between $125,000 and $200,000.
NCCI is expanding primary losses from the current level of $5,000 up to 15,000. This change will take place over a three year period, with the ceiling rising to $10,000 in the first year, $13,500 in the second year and $15,000 in the third year.
Why does this matter? Primary losses are the major cost driver in experience rating. Primary losses are not discounted: they go into the formula dollar for dollar. As a result, employers with moderately large claims (between $5,000 and $25,000) are likely to see an increase in their experience mod.
Expected Losses
Employers who have analyzed their premiums carefully understand that experience rating is essentially a comparison: the individual employer’s losses are compared to the losses for other employers performing similar work. The actual comparison is contained in the rates paid for insurance.

For example, in your state the rate for carpenters might be $10.00 per $100.00 of payroll. The total expected losses within this rate might be $5.00 per $100 of payroll. The expected primary losses (called the D Ratio) might be 20 percent of total losses: in this case, $1.00 per $100 of payroll.

As NCCI increases the ceiling for primary losses from $5,000 to $15,000, they must also increase expected primary losses. Unfortunately, they have thus far provided no information on how much expected primary losses (the D ratio) will increase. This number will determine just how much more employers with higher-than-expected losses will pay for insurance. Conversely, the revised D ratio will also determine how much of a discount will be given to employers with lower-than-expected losses. As with our changing climate, the fluctuations under the new system will be greater than in the past.
Given the trend toward very large (catastrophic) claims, it would not be surprising to see the state rating points also increase: for example, instead of capping individual claims at $200,000, the limit might be closer to $300,000. (To date, NCCI has been silent on this matter.)
Winners and Losers
NCCI actuaries are working under the requirement that total premiums within a state remain the same under the new system. In other words, when they apply the new rules, experience mods will go up or down for individual employers, but the total premium in the state will stay the same.
On an individual insured level, there will be winners and losers. Here is our advice to any employers with debit mods (above 1.0) in states managed by NCCI: follow these new NCCI developments carefully. [The easiest way to do this, of course, is to keep reading the Insider.] Primary losses remain the biggest cost driver in the workers comp system and primary losses within individual claims are about to double and soon triple. The strategies for experience mod management that were effective with the primary loss ceiling at $5,000 may no longer apply. As the rules of the game change, savvy managers will change with them.

Outlook for Workers Comp: Centennial in a Storm

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

In this summer of weather extremes, workers comp is celebrating its 100th birthday in America. The weather forecast – along with the prognosis for workers comp – probably sound familiar: periodic storms, heavy rain, damaging winds. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has issued its “state of the line” report for workers comp: 2010 was a tough year and the outlook for 2011 carries a severe weather warning.
The key indicator for insurance health is the combined ratio: add up the accumulated losses and the expenses, subtract investment income and hope you end up somewhere around 1.0. The combined ratio for 2010 went up to 1.15, five points above the previous year. Despite improved returns on investment (otherwise known as the “jobless” recovery), pretax losses for the industry averaged one percent – the first such loss since 2001.
Insurers are suffering from a convergence of negative factors: poor underwriting results, a drop in premiums (due to reduced payrolls), and an increase in claims frequency, which is perhaps the most alarming trend of all. For a number of years the increase in severity (the average size of claims) has been balanced by a decrease in frequency. If frequency continues to trend upward, the warning flags for severe trouble will be flapping in a very stiff breeze.
Politics as Usual
Further complicating matters for insurers, state level politicians are single minded in their effort to keep the costs of comp insurance as low as possible. As part of their relentless struggle to stay competitive, state regulators are reluctant to increase rates. NCCI has applied for rate increases in 14 of the states which they directly manage, up from eight in the previous cycle. Any move toward higher rates may signal at least the beginning of the long-awaited end of the soft market that has endured for over a decade.
Finally, there has been a lot of turnover among the state officials who regulate workers comp: there are 24 new insurance commissioners across the country. As NCCI puts it:

The number of newly elected and appointed officials means that the industry will face a challenge in terms of education and information for next few months at least.

Time to polish up the Gucci’s? The insurance industry hardly needs to crank up the lobbying apparatus – it’s always operating full tilt.
Candles in the Wind
As workers comp turns 100, we note that longevity itself is not cause for celebration. Just as it’s no fun to grow old, it’s not much fun trying to make money in workers comp these days. Despite a decade of tightened eligibility requirements and cuts (some draconian) in benefits, we have seen a continued deterioration in the financial health of comp carriers. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but I seem to detect a tone of anxiety as stakeholders gather to sing “Happy Birthday” to Workers Comp in America. The flames of the candles falter in the midst of a raging storm.

NCCI Reports: A Sobering Look at Risk

Monday, May 9th, 2011

NCCI has released two reports that are essential reading for risk managers and anyone else who enjoys the Big – albeit somewhat gloomy – Picture.
The first report is a summary of workers comp performance through 2010: while many indicators are positive or at least neutral, the major concern is overall performance. The combined ratio for insurers (losses plus expense) is creeping steadily upward: 101 percent in 2008, 110 percent in 2009, 115 percent in 2010. In other words, in 2010 carriers spent 15 percent more than they earned through premiums. Even with improved returns on investments, insurers are caught in the zone where many are losing money, especially those whose combined ratios have drifted above the average.
The troubled economy has complicated matters: as payrolls go down, premiums go down with them. Comp premium peaked in 2005 at $47.8B; in 2010, premium totaled $33.8B. To be sure, fewer people are working, but that often results in increased stresses – and risks – for those who still have jobs.
Finally, there is the highly politicized issue of rates for comp insurance. No state wants to be the first raise the rates, as this increases the cost of doing business and makes the state less competitive in attracting new business. So states hold the line or even force reductions, making all businesses – except insurance related – happy.
The Really Big Picture
For those of you who seek perspectives beyond comp, into the broadest possible, world-wide view of risk transfer, Robert Hartwig of the Insurance Information Institute offers slides that are compelling viewing. He examines the dual specters of terrorism and natural catastrophe. Bin Laden’s unlamented death may increase the risk of attack in the coming months, resulting in open-ended exposures for workers comp and property insurance. As for natural disasters, with the spate of earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes, any actuary who is paying attention is having trouble sleeping these days.
Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown appears to be the most expensive natural disaster in history. The total losses are expected to run between $100-300B, of which only a relatively small portion ($45B) is insured. (Government will bear the brunt.)
Tornadoes tearing through mid-America thus far have avoided major population areas, but the recent event at the St. Louis airport raises the specter of urban disaster.
Who Pays?
When calamity strikes, the impact is greatest on reinsurance, which kicks in when limits are reached in-front line policies. With the unprecedented scale of recent events, the cost of reinsurance must go up, and as it does, the cost of insurance for the consumer (business and personal) goes up with it. We live in risky times and the increasing costs of risk transfer reflect our darkening world.
One final note: Hartwig reveals that the 9/11 attacks added 1.9 percent to the combined ratio for 2001, which totaled a robust 121.7 percent. That’s a sobering thought for this beautiful spring morning. My advice? Slap on some sunscreen and get out for a stroll. There’s no better cure for gloomy data than a walk in the sunshine.

NCCI suggests a “precarious outlook prevails” for the workers comp market

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The NCCI Annual Issues Report is out and it is available as an online flipbook, you can download each article in PDF, or you can request a hard copy.
Most who work in the industry realize the significance of these reports but for employers, a brief side note is in order. NCCI stands for the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc., a rating and data collection bureau specializing in workers’ compensation. because NCCI manages the nation’s largest database of workers compensation insurance information, it is in authoritative position to analyze industry trends and upcoming legislation, to offer insurance rate recommendations, and to provide a variety of services and tools to a variety of constituencies, including state insurance bureaus, insurers, insureds, the media and others with an interest in workers comp.
The Issues Report provides an industry snapshot of where we’ve been, along with some trending and analysis that point to where we are likely heading. While all the articles have merit, for industry financial trending we point you to these three cornerstone documents:

While the property casualty market is generally positive and has performed better than most other sectors during the economic downturn, the same cannot be said for the segment of the market that is workers compensation.
The workers compensation combined ratio continues in an upward direction. This is never good. The combined ratio is a barometer of an insurer’s profitability. It indicates how much an insurer pays out for each dollar it takes in (incurred losses + expenses ÷ earned premium). For most businesses, it’s a problem if you pay out more than you have coming in, but for insurers, investment income on reserves (money held for claims costs) is also a significant component in overall profitability. So an insurer can still realize a profit even if it pays out more in losses than it takes in when investment income is factored in.
Hartwig says that in 2010, the combined ratio is approaching 115. To put this in some historical perspective, the combined ratio at the peak of the crisis in 2001 was 122% percent, and the historic low in recent years was 93% in 2005. In 2009, we saw about 110%, the the worst combined ratio since 2003.
Other significant issues:

  • Investment gains associated with workers compensation have seen some improvements, but are still on the low side.
  • Workers comp written premium eroded significantly as jobs were shed, and although the employment situation is leveling off, it is hardly booming. It’s expected that employment may be fairly flat through 2011.
  • Medical inflation has slowed but medical costs are still on the increase.
  • Uncertainty abounds: about the economy, about the direction of healthcare, about bank & housing market, about financial reform. Plus, there is a broader regulatory environment with OSHA and DOL, and there is policy uncertainty given the volatile political environment.

The pressure is on and the challenge for insurers is clear: the only way to make money under current conditions is through rigorous underwriting and tight expense control. Employers with marginal records may have limited options come renewal time. It’s always a good idea for employers to control losses, but never as important as in a tight underwriting climate.
Hartwig offers some positives about the employment scenario:

” Last year’s stubbornly high unemployment gives the misimpression that no progress has been made in reducing joblessness. In reality, as shown in Exhibit 2, private sector jobs were created every month in 2010, for a total of 1.3 million net new jobs. While job creation so far is at a pace too slow to bring down the overall jobless rate, it remains an extraordinary reversal from the hemorrhaging of jobs and associated payrolls in the two prior years. At the height of the crisis in early 2009, private employers were shedding more than 700,000 jobs per month. Private employers eliminated a staggering 4.7 million jobs in 2009 and 3.8 million in 2007. The unemployment rate remains high today in part because workers, sensing improving labor market conditions, are streaming back into the labor force.”

And on payrolls, the basis for premium:

“… The latest data indicates that aggregate wage and salary disbursements have recouped about half of what was lost during the recession. It is quite likely that those losses will be fully recouped by the second half of 2011.”

He also offers some perspective on other factors beyond payroll that are eroding written premium:

“The economy will clearly exert a major influence on workers compensation insurers’ growth opportunities in 2011 and beyond.Exhibit 3 suggests that other factors are playing an important, if not dominant, role when it comes to explaining the precipitous 29% drop in premium written over the past several years. Workers compensation premium began to fall in early 2006, long before the start of the Great Recession in December 2007. Aggressive pricing, along with the increased popularity of large deductible programs, captives, and self-insurance alternatives have all taken their toll, as have a surge in return premium. The loss of exposure due to the economy was actually one of the more recent contributors to the fall. On net, pricing is likely responsible for about half the decline.”

All in all, the NCCI reports reflect negatives that many of us have been seeing or living through, and while the patient is still in guarded condition, there are reasons for cautious optimism.
And don’t skip the other articles in the Issues Report just because we did not address them here – there is always good information in these reports!

NCCI study on safe lifting programs for long-term care facilities

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

A few years ago, an important NIOSH study on nursing home lifting equipment demonstrated that the benefits outweigh the costs. In addition to recapping the equipment investment in less than three years, NIOSH found a 61% reduction in resident-handling workers’ compensation injury rates; a 66% drop in lost workday rates; and a 38% decline in restricted workdays. Plus, the rate of post-intervention assaults during resident transfers dropped by 72%. That’s pretty impressive.
Now we have further evidence based on the recently-released study by NCCI: Safe Lifting Programs at Long-Term Care Facilities and Their Impact on Workers Compensation Costs (PDF). The study was a collaborative effort with the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It was limited to facilities that have had safe lift programs in place for more than three years. Originally, researches intended to compare the experience of facilities with and without such programs, but during the course of the research, the rate of adoption of safe lifting devices was so great that close to 95% of facilities had them and about 80% of those used them regularly.
NCCI summarizes the study results:

“After controlling for ownership structure and differences in workers compensation systems across states, the statistical analysis performed as part of this study shows that an increased emphasis on safe lift programs at long-term care facilities is associated with fewer workplace injuries and lower workers compensation costs. More precisely, higher values of the safe lift index are associated with lower values for both frequency and total costs. The safe lift index captures information on the policies, training, preferences, and barriers surrounding the use of powered mechanical lifts. The institution’s commitment to effectively implementing a safe lift program appears to be the key to success.”

One of the interesting aspects of the study is the safe lift index, referenced above, which was developed by researchers to aggregate answers from the survey questions into a single number. Researchers looked at several variables pertaining to policies and procedures. These included the training of certified nursing assistants in proper use of mechanized lifts, preferences of the Director of Nursing for powered mechanical lift use, potential barriers to the use of powered mechanical lifts, and enforcement of the lift policies. The report discusses these factors in greater detail, and demonstrate that there are many variables beyond just the equipment that affect overall program efficacy.
Many states have safe patient handling laws
In recent years, a number of states have enacted legislation mandating safe patient lifting – and that no doubt has contributed to the rapid adoption rate noted by NCCI researchers. According to the American Nursing Association, a strong advocate for such legislation, 9 states have implemented safe patient handling laws. These include Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington, with a resolution from Hawaii. In addition, they are tracking states with pending legislation in 2001, currently 6 states: California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri and Vermont. You can also track this legislation via a map and you can access additional resources and information at ANA’s excellent Safe Patient Handling website.
Prior posts on safe lifting
Texas enacts safe lifting guidelines for a hazardous industry
Washington passes “Safe Patient Handling” legislation
NIOSH study on nursing home lifting equipment: benefits outweigh costs
Safe Lifting and Movement of Nursing Home Residents