DWC Biennial Report Shows Slight Dip in Number of Nonsubscribing Employers

DWC Biennial Report Shows Slight Dip in Number of Nonsubscribing Employers

Workers’ compensation insurance rates in Texas have dropped nearly 77% since 2003, according to the latest DWC Biennial Report to the Legislature on Workers’ Compensation. The report says claim and system costs have decreased, largely because of fewer injuries and claims and better return-to-work rates, among other factors.

According to the report, return-to-work rates have steadily improved for Texas injured employees in the last decade, with a reported 83% of employees injured in 2020 returning to work within six months and 92% returning to work within a year of their injury. That compares to 78% and 83%, respectively, in 2007, the first year that the biennial report provided return-to-work rates.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Texas employees working for nonsubscribing employers dropped slightly in 2022 to 17%, from 18% the previous year. Since 2010, the percentage of Texas employees working for nonsubscribing employers has consistently been between 17% and 20%.

The report says the Texas workers’ compensation system is “healthy” and that competition in the marketplace has allowed employers to buy workers’ compensation coverage at affordable rates. In 2021, 317 insurance carriers wrote workers’ compensation coverage in Texas, with a total direct written premium for the year of $2.2 billion.

Meanwhile, the average premium per $100 of payroll fell to 51 cents in 2020, the most recent year for which statistics were provided. That compares to $2.32 per $100 payroll in 2003. The average premium per $100 payroll has fallen every year since 2003 and was 58 cents in 2019.

The report is available here.

Mandatory Workers’ Comp Bill for Construction Industry Filed Again in Texas Legislature

A proposal requiring all construction contractors and their subcontractors to provide workers’ compensation for their employees on all projects involving a government entity has been introduced once again in the Texas Legislature.

Two identical bills, SB 283 and HB 778, have been pre-filed for consideration during the upcoming legislative session. SB 283 is sponsored by Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin. HB 778 is sponsored by Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston.

The bills provide that a contractor or subcontractor may provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a group plan, an owner-controlled consolidated insurance program, or another method. If the contractor contracts with a government entity for a public project, the coverage provided by the contractor and, if applicable, by each subcontractor must be satisfactory to the governing body of the government entity.

The 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. The 140-day session will adjourn on Monday, May 29, 2023.

DWC Releases Latest Data on COVID Workplace Claims in Texas

Insurance carriers have reported more than 95,000 COVID-19-related workers’ compensation claims in Texas since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to newly released data from the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation.

Carriers reported 465 of the claims were for fatalities. Four out of five of the fatal claims involved males, and two-thirds of the fatal claims involved injured employees who were 50 years or older.

The data cover the period from March 13, 2020, through Nov. 9, 2022. It shows that 70% of all claims involved injured employees who tested positive or were diagnosed with COVID-19. Insurance carriers accepted 60% of COVID-19 positive test claims.

The public administration industry sector, which includes first responders, represented 56% of COVID-19 claims, followed by health care and social assistance (10%), administrative and support and waste management and remediation (5%), and educational services (5%).

Between March 13, 2020, and Nov. 1, 2022, 34% of COVID-19 claims filed had medical or indemnity benefit payments associated with them.

Most of the benefits paid on COVID-19 claims were indemnity benefits (particularly employer salary continuation and temporary income benefits), rather than medical benefits. Nearly one-quarter of claims (23%) that received professional or hospital/facility services received these services beyond one month post-injury.

According to DWC, insurance carriers and employers paid about $84.1 million in indemnity benefits on COVID-19 claims, $46.8 million (56%) in employer salary continuation, $31.5 million (37%) in workers’ compensation income benefits, $5.3 million (6%) in death benefits, and $469,995 (1%) in burial benefits.

The latest report from DWC on COVID-19 in the Texas Workers’ Compensation System is available here.

DWC Releases Annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

There were 533 fatal occupational injuries in Texas during 2021, a 12% increase from the 469 fatal injuries in 2020, according to data released by the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The 533 fatalities represent an incident rate of 4.2 per 100,000 full-time employees in 2021. Nationally, there were 5,190 fatal occupational injuries — an incident rate of 3.6.

According to DWC, most of the Texas increases from 2020 were from industries returning to their pre-pandemic levels. There were 608 fatal occupational injuries in 2019, the year before the pandemic began.

The highest number of Texas’ 2021 occupational fatalities was in the transportation and warehousing industry, with 182 incidents. That compares with 96 in 2020 and 199 in 2019. The construction industry had the same number of fatalities in 2021 as 2020, with 127 incidents. The construction industry had 123 fatalities in 2019.

The event or exposure with the highest number of fatalities was transportation incidents with 260, representing 49% of all incidents. This was an increase in total number of incidents from 2020 (214) but fewer than 2019 (283). Roadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle increased to 199 in 2021 from 146 in 2020, and was higher than the number of incidents in 2019 (181).

Fatalities from falls, slips and trips increased to 88 from 71 in 2020, but was fewer than the 96 reported in 2019. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased to 57 from 55 in 2020, and included 52 incidents that were intentional injury by person, up from 46 in 2020.

A full report from DWC is available here.

NCCI Study Reports on Workers’ Comp Systems’ Response to COVID-19

A newly released study from the National Council on Compensation Insurance concludes the workers’ compensation system responded well to the COVID-19 pandemic and remains strong and resilient.

The study used data from 45 jurisdictions representing about $1.1 billion in COVID-19 paid+case loss dollars associated with about 117,000 COVID-19 claims — an average cost of approximately $9,600 per COVID-19 claim from accident years (AY) 2020 and 2021, as of year-end 2021. This includes all COVID-19 claims with a paid and/or paid+case benefit component for private carriers and state funds. The analysis does not include experience from self-insured employers or denial and expense-only claims. Paid+case loss is paid losses plus case reserves on COVID-19 claims, divided by paid losses plus paid reserves on all claims.

According to the study, COVID-19 claims decreased from 11% of all workers’ compensation claims reported in AY 2020 to 4% in AY 2021. The corresponding losses associated with these claims declined from 3.5% to 1.2% of total workers’ compensation paid+case losses. The disproportionate share of claims versus losses continues to be driven by the large number of pandemic-related indemnity-only claims reported in AYs 2020 and 2021. Workers’ compensation indemnity-only claims were relatively uncommon prior to the pandemic and are significantly less costly when compared with a typical workers’ compensation claim that involves lost-time benefits.

In the insured market, most reported COVID-19 claims are for workers in the health care industry. COVID-19 claims have not contributed significantly to overall claims activity in most other industry sectors.

The study is available here.

Surgeon General Outlines Mental Health Framework for the Workplace

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently outlined what he says are five essentials for organizations to support the mental health and well-being of workers.

The Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace includes five pillars where employers should focus, and suggestions for implementing those pillars. They are:

Protection From Harm: Creating the conditions for physical and psychological safety is a critical foundation for ensuring mental health and well-being in the workplace. Workplaces can prioritize workplace physical and psychological safety; enable adequate rest; normalize and support focusing on mental health; and operationalize diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) norms, policies and programs.

Connection and Community: Fostering positive social interaction and relationships in the workplace supports worker well-being. Workplaces can create cultures of inclusion and belonging, cultivate trusted relationships, and foster collaboration and teamwork.

Work-Life Harmony: Professional and personal roles can create work and nonwork conflicts. To promote practices that better assure work-life harmony, workplaces can provide more autonomy over how work is done, make schedules as flexible and predictable as possible, increase access to paid leave, and respect boundaries between work and home.

Mattering at Work: Knowing you matter has been shown to lower stress, while feeling like you do not can increase the risk for depression. Workplaces can provide a living wage, engage workers in workplace decisions, build a culture of gratitude and recognition, and connect individual work with the organizational mission.

Opportunities for Growth: When organizations create more opportunities for workers to accomplish goals based on their skills and growth, workers become more optimistic about their abilities and more enthusiastic about contributing to the organization. Workplaces can offer quality training, education and mentoring; foster clear, equitable pathways for career advancement; and ensure relevant, reciprocal feedback.

The Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace is available here.

Workers Remain Cautious About Working Near Others

More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, unwillingness among workers to be near others reduced labor participation by 2.5 percentage points in the first half of 2022 compared with what economists would normally expect to see, according to a working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research. That translates to $250 billion in potential annual output, representing a drop of nearly 1 percentage point.

In November, the share of working-age people in the U.S. labor force dropped for the third month in a row, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some 186,000 people left the labor force in November, and the labor-force participation rate ticked down to 62.1% from 62.2% the previous month. That figure has yet to recover to the February 2020 level of 63.4%.

The working paper analyzed the results of Working From Home Research’s monthly Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes, which was begun by a group of economists in 2020 in response to the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on working life. The survey polls nearly 27,500 U.S. residents between the ages of 20 and 64 who have recent experience working. The National Bureau of Economic Research report looked at results from February to July 2022 and focused on people who had earned at least $10,000 in 2021.

About one-fifth of the respondents who were not participating in the labor force during the week the survey was conducted said concern about catching COVID-19 or other infectious diseases was the primary or secondary reason they were not currently working or seeking work.

The paper is available here.

Long COVID Conditions Continue for Many

An estimated 16 million working-age Americans (those aged 18 to 65) have long COVID-19 today, with an estimated 2 to 4 million of those out of work because of long COVID. The resulting lost wages alone total $170 billion to $230 billion, according to a report from Brookins Metro.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates 30% of Americans who get COVID-19 have experienced long COVID, including people who have been vaccinated and boosted against the virus that causes COVID-19. Between 25% to 45% of people with long COVID were unable to work or had their hours reduced, according to studies.

Anyone who has had COVID-19 can experience long COVID. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue, and sleep disorders or insomnia. Other symptoms include anxiety, depression, body aches, headache, heart palpitations and “brain fog,” which describes challenges associated with cognition, like thinking, concentration, communication, comprehension, memory and motor function. Organ damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, skin and brain have also occurred.

Most people with post-COVID-19 conditions experienced symptoms days after first learning they had COVID-19, but some people who later experienced post-COVID-19 conditions did not know when they got infected.

There is no test to diagnose post-COVID-19 conditions, and people may present symptoms that could come from other health problems.


Scientific American
Who Is Dying from COVID Now and Why
Today in the U.S., about 335 people will die from COVID—a disease for which there are highly effective vaccines, treatments and precautions. Who is still dying, and why? Click here for full article.

The Washington Post
RSV, COVID and Flu Are Keeping Kids Out of School — and Parents Out of Work
This fall has been a blur of runny noses, body aches and lost paychecks for Jacob Terry. His 18-month-old daughter came home from day care with respiratory syncytial virus a few weeks ago. Now he’s got it, too, while trying to juggle child-care responsibilities with his job as a marketing freelancer. Click here for full article.

Everything We Know About the New COVID Subvariants
Health officials in some cities and states are recommending people wear masks indoors, including in New York, Los Angeles and Washington state. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masks indoors and on public transportation in communities where COVID-19 levels are high, which accounts for an increasing number of people as winter rolls in. Click here for full article.

COVID-19 Can Live on these 5 Grocery Items for Days—Here’s how to Consume them Safely
At the height of the pandemic, Americans across the country were wiping down their groceries with antibacterial wipes for protection from Covid-19. And it turns out, we now know that doing so may not have been completely pointless. Click here for full article.

AP News
COVID’s Lingering Impact Prompts REAL ID Deadline Extension
The deadline for obtaining the Real ID needed to board a domestic flight has been pushed back again, with the Department of Homeland Security citing the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the slower-than-expected rollout. Click here for full article.

Contagion Live
Vitamin D Supplementation Appears to Offer Protective Benefits Against COVID-19
Vitamin D has long been linked with immune function, but a new report suggests that vitamin D supplementation can reduce a person’s risk of COVID-19 infection and mortality. Click here for full article.

Frank Recruitment Group
Google Searches for Excuses to Miss Work Are at a Five-Year High
Fortune recently reported that The Great Resignation shows no signs of slowing down. So in the context of the return to the office, it’s perhaps not too surprising that employees are searching for excuses they can give to skip work in larger and larger numbers. Across the top 10 most popular different search terms, search volume has increased by 630% from 2018 to 2022. Click here for full article.

EHS Daily Advisor
NIOSH: 1 in 5 Non-Healthcare Workers May Be Exposed to COVID-19
Workers’ occupation, industry, and specific job duties factor into how physically close to others they must work, whether they need to interact with the public, and whether they are potentially exposed to infectious diseases like COVID-19, according to new research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Click here for full article.

Texas News

US Department of Labor Finds Texas Construction Company Willfully Exposed Workers to Deadly Hazards After Trench Collapse Kills Two Workers
A federal investigation has determined that by failing to follow required workplace safety standards, a Georgetown construction contractor gave two workers installing sewer lines in an underground trench – more than two stories deep – little chance of survival when a large section of the excavation collapsed, crushing them under thousands of pounds of soil and rocks. Click here for full article. 

State News

Florida Politics
Report: It’s Insurers, Not Injured Workers, Driving Workers’ Compensation Legal Fees
Statewide business associations would like lawmakers to limit what injured workers can pay their attorneys, but a new state report shows it’s not injured workers driving legal costs in the system. Click here for full article. 

Property Casualty 360
Workers’ Comp Claims: Drinking & Fighting on the Job in Georgia
The foundation of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide medical and wage loss benefits to injured workers in a no-fault system without having to undergo the rigors of filing a lawsuit and navigating the legal system. Click here for full article.

Insurance Journal
Court Defines Insurance Broker’s Duty to Inform LLCs About Workers’ Compensation
What is the duty of an insurance broker in New Jersey to members of a limited liability corporation (LLC) when it comes to workers’ compensation coverage? Click here for full article.

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), One of the Largest Workers’ Compensation Carriers in North America, Goes Live with Sapiens’ Latest Release of CoreSuite for Workers’ Compensation
Sapiens International Corporation, (NASDAQ: SPNS) (TASE: SPNS), a leading global provider of software solutions for the insurance industry, announced today that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), one of the largest Workers’ Compensation carriers in North America, has gone live with Sapiens’ latest release of CoreSuite for Workers’ Compensation. Click here for full article.

TN Department of Commerce & Insurance
Tennessee Workers’ Comp Rates Will Decline for Tenth Consecutive Year in 2023
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) announces that workers’ compensation insurance premiums will decline for most Tennessee businesses in 2023 for the 10th consecutive year. Click here for full article.

Industry News

Yahoo! News
Amazon Faces Nearly $30,000 in Fines for Allegedly Failing to Record Work-Related Injuries
Amazon faces fines after six of its warehouse facilities in five states failed to properly record work-related injuries and illnesses. Click here for full article.

Study Finds Latino Workers Die of Occupational Injuries at Higher Rates than Other Groups
In April, a 22-year-old woman was crushed to death by an industrial mixing machine during her shift at the Northeast Foods processing plant in Johnston County. In May, a 48-year-old laborer at an industrial cleaning company in Montgomery County fatally fell out of a large, horizontal duct. Click here for full article.

More Than 1 in 3 Workplace Injury Victims Not Covered by Employer-Based Health Insurance
Workplace injuries can have costly implications on an employee’s health and ability to return to work. But for those at risk, the consequences may be even costlier. In fact, according to the latest ValuePenguin study, more than 1 in 3 workplace injury victims aren’t covered by employer-based health insurance. Click here for full article.

Safety + Health
Workers’ Comp Study Finds Use of ERs for Initial Treatment Varies State to State
The percentages of injured workers who visited an ER – instead of physician offices or urgent care clinics, which are less costly alternatives – for their initial medical treatment varied across 28 states, according to a recent study from the Workers Compensation Research Institute. Click here for full article.

Violence in Nursing: How To Create a Safer Work Environment
I’ve talked at length about the stress and risk of burnout from working in healthcare during the pandemic. One major issue in healthcare that I feel doesn’t get enough attention is the persistent threat of violence, particularly against nurses. Click here for full article.

Workers Compensation Frequency and Severity – An Interactive View
The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts have had both direct and indirect effects on the workers compensation industry. This article provides an overview of countrywide changes in lost-time claim frequency and severity. Click here for full article.

The 10 Most Deadly Jobs in America
Almost everyone complains about their job on occasion. But if you’re a logger, miner or truck driver, you might have greater concerns than most. Click here for full article.

How Does A Workers’ Comp Settlement Work? 2022 Guide
A workplace injury can cause serious long-term physical and financial consequences. You should be compensated when your job duties cause you to become sick or hurt. A workers’ comp settlement helps you get the money you deserve after you’re harmed as a result of your employment. Click here for full article.

Workers Compensation Lawsuit Guide 2022
Most work injury cases are resolved without a workers’ compensation lawsuit. People who are injured on the job are typically able to recover monetary payment for their resulting losses without having to go to court. However, in a limited number of situations, it’s possible to file suit against an employer when something goes wrong at work. Click here for full article.

How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay For Lost Wages?
Workers’ compensation laws are designed to support workers as they recover from injuries or illnesses suffered on the job. However, how much workers’ compensation pays for lost wages depends on the type of injury, the state the worker lives in and the worker’s job type. Click here for full article.

Business Insurance
Top Workers Comp Stories of 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate workers compensation-related news on the Business Insurance website in 2022, particularly in the first quarter. Click here for full article.

ABC News
What Injuries Qualify for Worker’s Compensation? Some Unusual Cases Have Succeeded While Others Have Failed
You might have read about a Tasmanian worker who was awarded worker’s compensation for being on-call when they broke their leg during a dog walk. If you were scratching your head like many on the ABC Hobart Facebook page about how a seemingly non-workplace case can succeed, it’s worth remembering that many compensation cases are more complex than they first appear. Click here for full article.

Occupational Health & Safety
An In-Depth Look at 2021 Fatal Occupational Injury Data
Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 5,190 people lost their lives to work injuries in 2021, a reported increase of almost nine percent from 2020. Click here for full article.

Yahoo! News
Walmart Asks Judge to Throw Out Lawsuits Over Virginia Mass Shooting
Attorneys for Walmart are asking for lawsuits filed against the company by associates in the wake of the November mass shooting in Chesapeake, Va., to be thrown out. Click here for full article.