Source: Louise Esola

A recent study showing workers injured early in their employment are more likely to file future workers compensation claims than other workers has experts weighing the root cause of repeat claims.

Some comp and safety experts say the study, which showed that workers injured soon after they joined an employer are more likely to file multiple lost-time workers compensation claims during their time on the job, shows a need for a better grasp on safety and training, but others say fraud could be the cause.

“This is something that comes up a lot; people making assumptions about an injured worker versus why they are getting injured,” said Diana Stegall, Tucson, Arizona-based president of The American Society of Safety Professionals, saying employers should focus on the types of injuries and work performed rather than zero in on repeat claimants as possibly fraudulent.

Defense firms, however, say early-employment and repeat claims are red flags for fraud in some instances, according to Bernard J. Finnegan, an Oakland, California-based senior partner and certified specialist in workers compensation with the defense firm D’Andre Law LLP.

The study, published in October’s issue of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found a correlation between employment duration before the first lost-time workplace injury and future lost-time injuries.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore sought a “simple” predictor of the future risk of multiple lost-time injuries by analyzing data of employees of an academic medical center who suffered 5,906 injuries tracked between 1994 to 2017.

Time served was the major indicator, according to the study.