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The shift to remote working and permanent telecommuting could lead to lower loss costs but an increase in repetitive stress injuries, according to two reports released Monday by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.
Prior to the pandemic, just 6% of the U.S. workforce worked primarily from home and three-quarters of workers had never worked from home. However, in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns, more than one-third of the employed worked from home, with office-based and professional occupations leading the shift to remote work.
Excluding existing clerical office workers and clerical telecommuting workers, Boca Raton, Florida-based NCCI found that workers compensation class codes with higher telecommuting potential tend to have lower loss costs than others.
In the office and clerical industry group, the clerical telecommuting class code accounts for less than a percent of payroll in the U.S.; the clerical office class code makes up 30% of payroll. While businesses have continued to report exposure in their traditional class codes, if the shift to telecommuting for these workers becomes permanent, the workers comp industry may see “the impact of payroll shifts among classifications” in 2021 and beyond, according to the report.
The office and clerical group also has lower average loss costs, accounting for nearly 60% of payroll exposure but just 11% or premium. However, the move to telecommuting and home offices that are not ergonomically correct and/or improvised could lead to more repetitive stress injuries and an increase in slips and falls, the report noted.
More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.
With much of America’s workforce working from home in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19, employers may experience an uptick in workers compensation claims, experts say.