Obesity, we all know, is something we struggle with here in the United States. For some people, obesity can be an impediment to a having a more productive work life. In the long-term, obesity can add up for employers in terms of medical expenses and absenteeism. In a California survey back in 2011, roughly 28 percent of 20,000 injured workers considered themselves to be obese.
Because of increased understanding of obesity, there are more efforts nowadays to take a proactive effort in dealing with it; so much so that the American Medical Association recently reclassified obesity as a treatable disease. The reclassification, according to the California Workers' Compensation Institute, could lead to California's workers' compensation system paying a lot more to treat the condition.
Obesity has previously been seen as a condition separate from work-related injury or illness, but there are times when obesity does affect workers' compensation costs. In the 2011 survey we mentioned above, only one percent of the workers' comp claims involved obesity as a factor.
That may change, though. According to the Workers Compensation Institute, obesity could become more common as a "compensable consequence of injury," because of weight gain related to inactivity and the use of medications that cause weight gain. According to the institute, the cost of claims between 2005 and 2010 that would now factor in obesity would be around twice as much in terms of dollars.
The work injury system is an important resource for workers. An employee that has been injured needs to know his or her rights in terms of compensation, particularly when an employer fails to adequately restore the individual. Those who have questions regarding workers' compensation coverage should consult with a solid attorney.
Source: Sacramento Business Journal, "What obesity means for workers' comp claims," Kelly Johnson, August 9, 2013.