Wearables in Workers’ Comp, Part 3: How to Use Data for Risk Prevention

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at the role of wearables in workers’ comp.  

In Part 1:The Dangers of High Risk Postures, we explored how wearable tech can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries among a workforce, lower workers’ comp claims and even lead to workers’ comp premium savings.

And in Part 2: The Benefits of Behavior Change, we discussed how wearables drive long term behavior changes in a workforce by continuously preventing high-risk movements, which  directly correlates with reduced injury rates over time.   

Here, in Part 3, we’ll take a look at the data collected from wearables and how it can be leveraged to proactively prevent risk in the workplace, leading to reduced claims and costs. 

When employers are introduced to wearables through their workers’ comp policies, they gain the benefits of tech-driven behavioral change, as well as the advantage of access to more data than ever before. This rich information offers valuable insights into how workers are performing tasks and how management can mitigate risk and control loss in the workplace.

Meaningful Data Uncovers Risk

Data collected from wearables serve as clues that can help employers to reduce workplace injuries. It’s the who, what, when and where of risk. When an employer deploys wearable tech to collect these clues, they essentially gain new eyes on the workplace floor. These eyes can observe both individual employees and entire job functions, gathering useful information on who is at risk, at what times, how often and at what locations.   

For example, industrial employers might collect data on employees performing high-risk movements – such as bending, overreaching, twisting and jumping. With this actionable data in hand, management is able to:

  • Uncover root causes of workplace injuries
  • Identify preventative strategies to improve worker safety

Kinetic CEO Haytham Elhawary shares what data is collected and provided with the Kinetic Reflex wearable platform.

Excerpted from “Keep Workers Safe and Reduce Costs: Utilizing Wearable Devices Pays Dividends in Workers’ Comp Program”  a webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services 
Watch the Full Webinar

Leveraging Actionable Insights

Once a company is collecting meaningful data with wearables, these clues can then be analyzed to uncover driving factors of workplace injuries. Analysis allows employers to identify the why, or the potential causes of high-risk movements, resulting in actionable insights that reduce the likelihood of future injuries.

Reports from a wearable safety program allow management to spot patterns and trends in their team’s data. For example, when measuring high-risk movements, insights gained may include:

  • Noticing an increase in high-risk movements during a specific time frame 
  • Identifying a group of employees that performs the most risky movements each day
  • Determining a certain job function in which excessive high-risk movements are performed

Overall, the goal of this data is to help managers with limited time to know exactly where they should focus their time on the most in order to address their biggest risk.

McMaster-Carr HR and Safety Manager Craig Perkins shares why wearable data is “gold.” 

Excerpted from “Keep Workers Safe and Reduce Costs: Utilizing Wearable Devices Pays Dividends in Workers’ Comp Program”  a webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services 
Watch the Full Webinar

Proactive, Targeted Safety Measures

After data has been collected and insights have been gained, employers can put plans into action to drive real results, bringing injury rates down by helping employees work smarter and safer. 

“We want to move away from ‘Oh, an injury just happened’ to ‘Oh look, this person or these people have a lot of these high risk movements. Let me train them, let me figure out if there’s something in the workplace that’s doing this, so that the injury never happens in the first place.’ So this allows you to understand if you have a risk of an injury and allows you to act on it before the injury actually happens.”

– Haytham Elhaway, Kinetic CEO

Data-driven insights may lead to actions such as:

Coaching Opportunities

Management may determine an employee with a level of high-risk movements that is well above the average would benefit from coaching or a safety observation.

Workplace Changes

Employers may find some high-risk actions are unavoidable, but they can reduce their frequency by implementing a change in the setup of a workstation or introducing new equipment.

Preventative actions such as these transform risk management from a reactive to a proactive process.

McMaster-Carr HR and Safety Manager Craig Perkins talks about the value of targeted safety  data. 

Excerpted from “Keep Workers Safe and Reduce Costs: Utilizing Wearable Devices Pays Dividends in Workers’ Comp Program”  a webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services 
Watch the Full Webinar

When provided with wearables to gather and analyze rich pools of data, insureds can optimize their workplace safety programs to minimize risk and address preventable threats. The results are substantial: reduced injuries, lowered losses and increased premium savings. 

Coming next: Part 4 – Ensuring a Successful Tech Deployment. Learn what’s most important  for the successful deployment of a wearable safety program.

New Reflex Feature Reduces Jump Related Injuries and Claims

Growth in e-commerce continues to drive employment in warehousing and last-mile delivery. Employees are also working longer hours than ever before, often leading to prioritization of productivity and speed over safety. This is leading to more unsafe human movements, including the increased risk of injury to backs, knees and ankles from jumping, and increased chances of slips, trips and falls.

As this sector of our economy continues to grow (e-commerce sales are expected to cross $1 trillion for the first time in 2022), the risk of injury from jumping will grow alongside it.

The Dangers of Jumping

Each and every jump a worker performs is potentially dangerous because it can result in either a single-incident acute injury, or a cumulative overuse injury. Jumping to a lower level, like off the back of a delivery vehicle or from a raised platform, can lead to two of the most common types of workplace injuries, and two leading reasons for workers’ compensation claims:  ‘overexertion and strain’ and ‘slips and falls’.

Acute injuries from jumping might include damage to tendons, ligaments and muscles in the knee or ankle. The National Safety Council  reported 66,650 knee injuries and 44,220 ankle injuries involving days away from work in 2020, with transportation and material moving being the most impacted occupation for both. Overexertion and falls were the leading events for these injuries, a portion of which were from jumping to a lower elevation. 

Jumping can have long-term effects as well, primarily in the form of strain on the lower back, knees and ankles that can lead to musculoskeletal injury. When a worker jumps down, their body has to absorb the impact of the landing; the higher up they jump from, the greater the impact.

Based on a study by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, a person jumping from a height of 2 feet would hit the ground with a force of between 5 and 8 times their body weight. For example, a 200 pound person would hit the ground with a force of 1,000 to 1,600 pounds.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

A Costly, Yet Preventable Risk

From a workers’ compensation claims perspective, these types of injuries represent a significant, yet controllable, source of loss. While injuries and claims for high risk posture injuries may be more prevalent, jumping injuries are often more severe. National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) data for 2018-2019 shows:

  • Total cost of slip and fall claims: $20B
  • Average cost per claim: $47K

A New Jump-Related Safety Solution

Wearable technology has become an increasingly familiar solution for injury prevention among industrial workers, helping to detect environmental risks, improve ergonomics and connect lone workers. Now, this technology can help protect employees from injuries caused by performing avoidable jumps. 

We’re excited to announce a new Jump Detection feature set for the Reflex wearable platform that expands the number of risky behaviors the device can detect. Beyond measuring the way employees bend, reach and twist on the job to help prevent high risk postures, Reflex can now also measure the frequency of jumps performed to help prevent high risk jumping.

With new jump analytics accessible through the Reflex dashboard, safety managers can gain insights on frequency and timing of high risk jumps, and take actions to mitigate risk. Specifically they’re able to:

  • Discover high-risk jobs and employees, and to share data with them and provide specific coaching and support.
  • Use timestamped jumps analytics to gain visibility into on-site and off-site aspects of their operations. For example, these timestamped events can be used for identifying the routes and stops where drivers are more prone to jumps, or identifying job setup in their warehouse that leads to high risk jumps.
  • Track trends and improvement over time, to help them determine the efficacy of training and job design changes.

Jump Detection is the first of more expected additions to Reflex and is part of an ongoing effort to detect more of the high risk movements that can lead to workplace injuries and claims.

Explore the Reflex Jump Detection Feature

If you’re a Kinetic Reflex customer, or an appointed Kinetic Insurance broker helping companies reduce injuries and save on workers’ compensation insurance with Reflex, you can utilize the benefits of Jump Detection! Please reach out to our support team for details.

Or, request a free demo now and learn how you can get started with Kinetic Reflex to reduce injury rates up to 60% and workers’ compensation claims up to 50%*.

*Independently verified by Perr & Knight, a leading actuarial consulting firm.

Safety First in Nursing

Caring for Those that Care for Us

It’s National Nurses Week through May 12 – a perfect opportunity to recognize our healthcare professionals for all that they do, and to consider how we can take better care of these hardworking caregivers.

This very large (nurses make up the largest portion of healthcare professions) and rapidly growing workforce is at high risk for workplace injuries. In fact, nurses face a higher rate of workplace injuries than any other industry and the highest rate of sprains and strains of all professions.

Sprains and strains are the most frequently reported injury among healthcare workers.

  Most strains and sprains affect the shoulders and the lower back.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration 

Every day, nurses face workplace hazards that can lead to injury while performing their routine duties. Manually handling patients – lifting, repositioning and moving them – requires repetitive strain and overexertion, including excessive bending, twisting and reaching. As a result, nurses face a higher-than-average risk of sustaining musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including injuries to the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spinal discs.

Strain and sprain claims happen 40% of the time in this industry and represent 45% of all costs.

NCCI state average for Nursing Homes, Senior Living and Home HealthCare; Accident Year 2020

A musculoskeletal injury can affect a nurse for weeks, months or even years, causing them to lose significant work time, which impacts both the individual and their employer.

In 2020, registered nurses and licensed practical and vocational nurses lost 13 and 12 days of work respectively due to injury and illness.

BLS Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and illnesses 2020

Musculoskeletal disorders in the nursing industry are also costly.

Total strain and sprain claims = $119 million

Average strain and sprain claim = $7,708

NCCI state average for Nursing Homes, Senior Living and Home HealthCare; Accident Year 2020

Proactive Workers’ Compensation Helps Safeguard Nurses

We can take better care of this critical workforce! Musculoskeletal injuries among nurses and other healthcare workers are largely preventable. And insurance carriers and brokers can help to mitigate these risks with a proactive approach to workers’ compensation. 

By including wearable safety technology in workers’ comp policies, we can cut workplace injuries in half – helping nurses to feel better on and off the job. Wearables designed to reduce high risk movements have been proven to lessen injuries over time, especially where high strain and sprain rates are present – like in the nursing profession.

Wearables can provide continuous coaching to help workers change the way they move by making them more aware of the movements they are performing while doing their jobs. Through receiving vibrational alerts that occur when a risky motion is made, users develop safer habits that result in less soreness and fatigue, and fewer injuries and lost work days.

Wearable tech can reduce injury frequency 50-60% and lost work days 72%.

Perr&Knight actuarial analysis, 2021

Additionally, wearables give employers access to a critical new data set that reveals which areas and employees are most at risk, so they can then take proactive steps to further reduce workplace hazards and control loss. 

By providing healthcare employers with a workers’ comp policy that includes free wearable technology, proven to prevent and reduce workplace injuries and claims, we help to ensure a safer, healthier and more productive nursing workforce. Reduced injury rates also help lower premium costs for policyholders.

For National Nurses Week, and beyond, considering the safety and well being of our essential healthcare workers should be top priority. Wearable tech offers a safety solution with noteworthy and longstanding benefits, allowing us to better care for those that care for us!

Kinetic Insurance, in partnership with Nationwide, is pioneering a technology-driven approach to worker safety that benefits insurance carriers, brokers and policyholders. Our workers’ compensation offerings lower costs by equipping workers with wearable technology that is proven to reduce injuries by as much as 60% and lost work days by 72%. Want to learn more? Click here to inquire about being appointed with Kinetic Insurance.

Wearables in Workers’ Comp, Part 2: The Benefits of Behavior Change

In Part 1 of Wearables in Workers’ Comp we looked at how insureds can leverage wearable tech to detect and reduce high risk movements performed on the job, in order to prevent musculoskeletal injuries and workers’ comp claims. In this installment, we’re exploring how this innovative safety solution works to create lasting improvements to ergonomics and workplace safety.

The Problem

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), or sprain and strain injuries, are some of the most common and costly workers’ comp claims. For example, in 2020, 49% of all indemnity and lost time claims for auto dealerships in National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) states were sprains and strains.

Unlike other workplace accidents, sprains and strains are often a result of cumulative trauma. Months and years of bad ergonomic habits mean that MSDs will have a constant presence in loss-runs, and a negative impact on the cost of workers’ comp premiums. 

One solution to MSDs has emerged in the form of wearable safety devices. This technology proactively coaches employees on proper body mechanics, reducing the likelihood and severity of these costly claims. Now, wearables are finding their way into workers’ comp policies as an added benefit for policyholders that helps to improve worker ergonomics through tech-driven behavioral change. 

Real Time Feedback Drives Long Term Change

Employers have long-relied on ergonomic safety measures to reduce the risk of injuries among industrial workers. However, these traditional efforts – such as physical therapists, video trainings and consultants – simply aren’t changing the way employees move over the long term. Rarely do they result in sustained changes in worker behavior. 

Wearable devices, however, can drive long term behavior changes in a workforce. Here’s how:

  1. Continuous coaching Wearable sensors automatically recognize risky behaviors and can alert employees in real time, helping them create safer habits. With this continuous feedback over time, employees begin to self correct their behavior and reduce the number of times they perform risky movements that can lead to injury.

Excerpted from “Keep Workers Safe and Reduce Costs: Utilizing Wearable Devices Pays Dividends in Workers’ Comp Program”  a webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services Watch the Full Webinar

  1. Employee engagement – Wearable devices can encourage workers to engage in the ergonomic process and offer continuous motivation through visual progress, goals and reward features.

    Craig Perkins, HR and Safety Manager at McMaster Carr, recently spoke on this in the webinar with Kinetic and SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services. He said,

    “A lot of people find self motivation if they are starting to see improvements, whether it’s improvements in the amount of fatigue they feel, improvements in how their back is feeling, as well as a reduction in their coworkers out injured.”
  1. The ‘halo effect’ – Ergo-wearables may drive change in one area that leads to changes in others. (Think about how increasing your steps with a fitness wearable can lead to other wellness changes, like healthier eating or improved sleep habits!). 

    Craig spoke to this in the SullivanCurtisMonroe webinar as well, calling it a “keystone habit.”

Excerpted from “Keep Workers Safe and Reduce Costs: Utilizing Wearable Devices Pays Dividends in Workers’ Comp Program” a webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services Watch the Full Webinar

The Benefit of Behavior Change

There’s a direct correlation between high risk movements and injuries in the workplace. Fewer risky movements among a workforce serves as a leading indicator that injuries will go down. 

A ~30% reduction in high risk movements led to a ~50% reduction in injury rates 12 months later. (Data specific to a 1,000-unit deployment of wearable tech among drivers and warehouse workers.)

Because safety wearables are reducing sprain and strain injuries, which can take a long time to recover from, there’s also a reduction in lost or modified work days. This benefit is especially impactful in today’s work environment where, when a worker gets hurt on the job, it’s hard to replace them due to labor shortages. With wearables, employers can avoid disruptions in their operations and don’t have to turn to overtime, temps or trying to hire new workers. 

Comparison of absence rate with vs without Kinetic Reflex.

Furthermore, similar to other safety and productivity improvements, underwriters will look favorably upon employers who leverage wearable safety tech to reduce injuries. This would ultimately manifest itself in lower premiums and improved experience modification scores. 

Coming next: Part 3 – Using Data for Risk Management. Learn what data is collected from wearable devices and how it can be used for targeted safety measures.

Building a Positive Safety Culture

World Day for Safety and Health at Work, an international awareness day that focuses attention on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide, will take place on April 28. Observed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 2003, the event’s focus this year is on participation and social dialogue in creating a positive safety and health culture.

Per the ILO, a strong Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) culture at the workplace is one in which:

→ the right to a safe and healthy working environment is valued and promoted by both management and workers
→ workers feel comfortable raising concerns about possible OSH risks or hazards in the workplace
→ management is proactive in collaborating with workers to find appropriate, effective and sustainable solutions
→ there is open communication and dialogue built on trust and mutual respect

The organization cites that in workplaces that are promoting workers’ engagement while implementing a positive OSH culture there are:

→ 64% fewer safety incidents
→ 58% fewer hospitalizations

Employee Engagement Fortifies a Culture of Safety

The topic of creating a positive safety culture is one we’re always exploring with organizations using wearable technology to augment their safety programs and fortify their safety cultures. While wearables provide data and insights that help them to reduce workplace injury rates, they also help reinforce a positive culture of safety by empowering employees to engage in the safety process.

In a recent webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services, our CEO Haytham Elhawary spoke with Craig Perkins, HR and Safety Manager at McMaster-Carr, about wearables, safety culture and employee engagement. Craig shared how engaging employees with a wearable safety program can be an integral part of a safety culture that is committed to leading indicators.

Last year, Haytham spoke with PepsiCo Inc.’s then Global Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety, Cormac Gilligan, about how wearable tech is engaging employees and driving culture change in their Frito-Lay division. When the company distributed wearable devices among manufacturing employees to alert them of high risk postures performed on the job, employees began initiating new conversations about the way they move and even proposing solutions to management. 

In a recent article examining the use of wearable technology in construction, JLG Industries Safety Manager Ashley Metz also noted how wearables are affecting the company’s safety culture through employee participation. She said, “The team has personal influence in their behaviors with how they are approaching a lift or a reaching posture.”

Since the introduction of wearable safety tech, big companies, like JLG and PepsiCo, have reaped the benefits with reduced injuries, lowered claims costs and strengthened safety cultures. Now, as wearables become more widely adopted and distributed, middle market companies are seeking the same tech-driven safety solutions for their employees. Wearables are just as effective at building positive safety cultures among smaller groups of employees as they are for Fortune 500 sized organizations. Like any other form of PPE, they are easy to implement and can achieve incredible results in injury reduction and safety awareness.

Insurance Can Do More for Safety Culture

Insurance carriers can do more to help companies be proactive in preventing injuries and reinforcing good safety culture. For the past 60 years, workers’ comp insurance has been primarily transactional, focused on covering costs after injuries occur. Minimal loss control efforts haven’t changed in decades. Furthermore, claims costs are often passed on to policyholders in future periods to protect carriers’ own balance sheets.  

Now, select carriers are evolving to provide predictive-based risk management in order to lower losses, and create future premium savings for the policyholder. By including safety technology like wearables in their offerings at no extra cost, carriers are helping policyholders to reduce injuries and claims, and to engage employees in the safety process. 

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a perfect opportunity for insurance professionals and employers alike to explore how wearable tech can enhance safety culture. Wearables can serve as an important tool, empowering workers to take control of their own safety and participate in productive feedback as a team – a key aspect of a thriving safety culture.

Wearables in Workers’ Comp, Part 1: The Dangers of High Risk Postures

With 30,000 workplace injuries happening each day in the U.S., employers are continually looking for ways to improve the safety of their workplace and the wellbeing of their employees, and to lower their workers’ compensation insurance costs. Addressing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – the most frequent and costly type of workplace injuries – is a good place to focus one’s attention.

  • MSDs are the single largest category of workplace injuries and are responsible for almost 30 percent of all workers’ compensation costs. (BLS)
  • Employers spend as much as $20 billion a year on direct costs for MSD-related workers’ compensation. (OSHA)
  • 1 of every 3 dollars spent on workers’ compensation is attributed to insufficient ergonomic protection. (OSHA)

MSDs result from strain to the musculoskeletal system caused by repetitive awkward postures performed on the job. Think of a warehouse worker repeatedly reaching overhead to select items; an employee on the shop floor constantly twisting to sort materials; or a delivery driver bending at the waist again and again to load and unload products. When these workers move their bodies improperly, day after day, their injury risk increases.

Improper postures performed repetitively on the job strain workers’ musculoskeletal systems, increasing their risk of an MSD-related injury. 

Wearable technology can help employers mitigate this injury risk, protecting their workforce and the likelihood of claims. 

Preventing High Risk Postures 

Awkward and repetitive postures commonly performed on the job – such as improper bending, twisting, and overreaching – are what we call High Risk Postures (HRPs). And while HRPs are prevalent in the workplace, especially among frontline workers performing physically demanding jobs, they are mostly preventable. 

To reduce strain and sprain injuries, employers need an ergonomic safety solution that consistently improves the way employees move on the job. Because this can be very difficult to teach in a one-time ergonomic training session, a wearable device that measures and helps to improve posture in real time can be a game changer in injury prevention.

Using sensor technology, an ergonomic wearable device is able to detect HRPs as they are occurring. The device can alert a worker when they’re bending or twisting improperly, or overextending their spine, so they can correct the risky behavior and create new habits before developing an MSD-related injury.

The Kinetic Reflex wearable device was designed to detect high risk postures among employees in the industrial workforce, who are especially prone to work-related injuries due to the repetitive and physically demanding nature of their jobs. It’s a belt-mounted wearable sensor that provides a light vibration every time an HRP is performed.

Kinetic CEO Haytham Elhawary demonstrates how the Reflex wearable device works.

Excerpted from “Keep Workers Safe and Reduce Costs: Utilizing Wearable Devices Pays Dividends in Workers’ Comp Program” 
a webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services

Reducing Injury Risk 

Technologies that reduce risk and lower insurance premiums are not new. Look, for example, at embedded automotive technology designed to enhance driver safety. Advanced driver-assistance systems help keep drivers from drifting out of their lanes through a steering wheel vibration. Additionally,  automatic emergency braking systems help prevent crashes by automatically activating the brakes when a car senses a collision. These advanced driving technologies can help reduce insurance costs by qualifying drivers for discounts based on installed safety systems and reduced accident frequency.

Similarly, wearable safety tech can be leveraged in the workplace to detect and prevent specific ergonomic risks such as HRPs. By studying how an employee moves and alerting them every time a high risk posture is performed, the device creates better habits around how to move properly on the job. As workers reduce the frequency of HRPs, over time, workplace injury rates decrease.

An actuarial review of Kinetic Reflex data supported a correlation between high risk posture rates and the frequency of strains and sprains. Proven results include a 50-60% reduction in injury frequency and a 50% reduction in workers’ comp claims costs in environments where high strain & sprain injury rates are present.

By reducing the damaging effects of high risk postures, companies can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries among their workforce, reduce workers’ comp claims and even improve their experience modification rating, resulting in workers’ comp premium savings.

Coming next: Part 2 – The Impact of Behavior Change. Learn how wearable devices drive long term changes in worker behavior that lead to a safer workforce.

At the Intersection of Workplace Safety and Workers’ Comp

It was 50 years ago this year that a presidential-appointed commission on state workers’ compensation systems made its recommendations for improvement. The Report of the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation Laws included guidance on topics such as encouraging workplace safety and modernizing workers’ comp systems. Five decades later, these are two areas with significant relevance once again in today’s environment. 

Encouraging Workplace Safety

Workplace safety has received a lot of attention over the past two years as burgeoning ecommerce demands have put added strain on warehouse and transportation workers, and COVID-19 and labor shortages have burdened frontline workers across various sectors with increased workloads.

Ergonomic injuries have been particularly in the spotlight with companies like Amazon being cited for a high incidence of workplace injuries among warehouse workers performing repetitive tasks. Last year, Amazon launched a push to reduce ergonomic injuries, or musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are reported to account for about 40% of work-related injuries across the company. Their injury-prevention programs include testing technology aimed at reducing MSDs. 

With the lack of any federal worker protections related to repetitive motion injuries in place (OSHA only provides voluntary industry-specific guidelines for minimizing injuries), programs to reduce ergonomic hazards and associated MSDs have traditionally been driven primarily by industry and employer efforts. 

However, state governments are also getting involved in mandating worker protections. Last month, the Washington House of Representatives passed a bill that calls for the restoration of workplace ergonomics regulations to protect workers from MSDs (regulations were previously in place from 2000-2003). If the current legislation, HB 1837, passes the Senate and is signed into law by the governor, Washington will join three other states – Oregon, California and New Hampshire – which have developed their own regulations around workplace ergonomics to prevent injuries and protect workers.

This measure reflects the increasing social consciousness and economic importance of keeping workers who do repetitive work – often those on the frontlines, sustaining our lifestyles – safe and healthy. And it puts a spotlight on the costly injury risks this workforce faces while performing essential jobs.

Modernizing Workers’ Comp Systems

A modernized approach to workers’ comp is emerging today in an industry that’s seen very little innovation in a long time. It’s ushering in a proactive approach to what has been a reactive system – and it puts workplace safety at the forefront. 

Consider MSDs, which are the most frequent type of injury, accounting for 33% of workplace injuries according to OSHA. They’re also the most pricey with related workers compensation claims amounting to as much as $20 billion a year for employers. However, many of these injuries and costs can be prevented with a proactive, tech-driven approach to workplace safety and workers’ compensation. 

Tech-led safety solutions, such as ergo wearables, help to prevent workplace injuries before they happen. By providing real-time feedback that drives long-term behavior change, and actionable data that gives new insights into workplace risks, wearables can significantly reduce workplace injuries and related workers comp claims

When provided as part of a workers’ comp offering, wearable tech improves the whole system –  robust data allows producers to better assess risk, policyholders save money through reduced premiums, and workers experience fewer injuries, making for a safer and more productive workforce. 

As companies continue to elevate workplace safety in response to today’s dynamic work environment, and state governments increasingly attempt to mandate worker protections, a proactive, tech-enabled approach to workers’ compensation can help to meet rising expectations and changing regulations around ergonomics and worker safety. 

Safety First in Parcel Delivery

More packages are being brought to U.S. homes and workplaces than ever before, propelled by record high e-commerce sales that hit $257.6 billion1 in the final quarter of 2021. These soaring online sales have led to a rise in transportation and warehousing jobs, which surpassed the February 2020 employment levels this month by 584,0002 workers. 

While parcel delivery is one of the fastest growing job fields in the sector – and the country – it is also one of the riskiest when it comes to workplace injury. Job-related tasks require workers to repeatedly bend, reach and twist in confined spaces in order to handle and lift potentially heavy or awkwardly-shaped objects. Couriers can develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from loading and unloading vehicles, lifting and carrying parcels, and long stretches of driving on a daily basis.

The rate of workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers in the couriers and messengers sector is 6.8.3

The transportation and warehousing industry had an incidence rate of 77.1 MSD cases in 2018 involving a median 26 days away from work.4

The Bureau of Labor Statistics

MSDs are the most frequent injury across this workforce and, on average, are the longest injury to recover from and often the most debilitating in the long term.

These injuries have huge financial implications: they averaged nearly $33k per workers’ compensation claim filed in 2018 and 2019.5

National Safety Council

Using Tech to Reduce Injuries in Last-Mile Delivery

MSDs are prevalent in the parcel delivery industry, but they are also largely preventable. While workers can be trained to recognize and avoid the risks they face each day, employers can also leverage tech-driven safety solutions designed to specifically reduce the awkward postures and repetitive movements that strain employees’ musculoskeletal systems. 

When outfitted with wearable devices, workers can receive real-time alerts that drive sustained behavior change. With this continuous coaching method, employees can reduce their high risk postures. In turn, they experience less soreness and fatigue, are able to keep their pace up for longer, miss less work and experience greater emotional and mental well-being. And there’s a direct correlation between reduced high risk postures and injuries in the workplace. We’ve found, by reducing high risk postures, companies can expect up to 50-60% fewer injuries, over time.

“In the parcel delivery space, the leading driver of lost time injury claims for employees is directly related to improper lifting resulting in back and shoulder strains. The average time an employee is not able to drive with a back claim is three weeks. That’s a serious impact to a carrier’s bottom line that can be greatly reduced by utilizing a wearable.”

Chuck Holdren, President & CEO of SAGE Program Underwriters

Fewer Injuries, Reduced Claims Costs

Beyond driving behavior change that leads to fewer worker injuries, wearable safety devices provide employers with new actionable data that reveal areas most at risk, and allow companies to take proactive steps to reduce the risk. The resulting targeted training efforts and workspace or process redesigns lead to a further decrease in injuries. 

Reduced injury rates reduce a policyholder’s overall workers’ comp burden. In environments where high strain and sprain injury rates are present, we’ve seen wearables reduce claims costs 50%. And with fewer claims reported, E-mod scores can improve and premium rates can go down. Tech-enabled risk prevention, such as a safety wearables program, is truly a win-win for all parties.

Kinetic Insurance, in partnership with Nationwide, is pioneering a technology-driven approach to worker safety that benefits insurance carriers, brokers and policyholders. Our workers’ compensation offerings lower costs by equipping workers with wearable technology that is proven to reduce injuries by as much as 50% and lost work days by 72%. Want to learn more? Click here to inquire about being appointed with Kinetic Insurance.


Kinetic Advisory Board Member Talks Injury Prevention, Tech and Insurance

We’re excited to share that John Peters, one of the brightest minds in the world of insurance, has joined the Kinetic Advisory Board. John is Chief Insurance Officer for Lemonade – a global digital insurer built on AI and social impact – and holds decades of experience in commercial insurance and loss control, including various executive roles at Liberty Mutual and McKinsey & Company’s insurance practice.

As an advisory board member, John will provide our executive team with insight into advanced underwriting and actuarial strategies, especially using novel datasets. He will counsel Kinetic on our MGU strategy and offer guidance on developing successful relationships with our carriers.

We connected with John to discuss his decision to join the Kinetic Advisory Board, as well as his thoughts on the workers’ compensation industry, injury prevention and technology.

Why were you attracted to the Kinetic Advisory Board?

When I joined Lemonade in 2016, it was to be part of the transformational change happening in the insurance industry. I wanted to help lead that change as part of a company that was redesigning insurance from the ground up. This transformation is ongoing, and so is my excitement about it, which is why Kinetic is the perfect company for me to get behind. They’re part of the revolution, transforming the workers’ comp space with a tech-led, proactive approach to keeping employees safe and saving policyholders money. 

Kinetic has built a simple wearable device with a proven track record of significantly reducing injuries in a non-invasive way. Their team is dedicated to workplace safety and to creating experiences that are a win for all – employees, employers and insurance companies alike. I’m thrilled to join their board, where I can continue to help lead change in the industry. 

How do you see the workers’ comp sector changing?

Like the insurance industry at large, the workers’ compensation space is behind. It’s built on reactive versus proactive processes, the technology is lagging… insurance as a whole has been slow to innovate. In workers comp, however, the consequences are greater than time-intensive manual processes and operational inefficiencies. Workers are injured on the job at alarming rates, and employers suffer from lost productivity and increased turnover. The traditional approach of addressing risks after they occur is antiquated and costly for everyone involved.  

The transformation of this space requires a new and proactive way of addressing workplace injury. It’s time for insurers to move beyond just transferring risk on paper to providing policyholders with tangible tools that can actively help reduce injuries in the workplace. This is where wearable tech, like the device Kinetic designed to prevent injuries before they occur, can be a game changer. It helps to identify and prevent risk across an entire workforce, driving down injuries, claims costs and premiums, while building a culture of safety and trust in the workplace. 

Why is a culture of safety important, and how can brokers and providers contribute to it?

A positive safety culture is one where safety is a shared priority and all parties are committed to minimizing risk. In safety-critical industries like transportation, warehousing and manufacturing, risk is everywhere. Jobs are often physically demanding and lead to strain and sprain injuries from things like heavy lifting and repetitive movements. Employees get injured every day; a culture of safety makes preventing these injuries a primary concern.

Injury prevention is about adjusting both the environment and the worker so that the odds of getting injured go down. Sounds easy but it is not. Brokers and carriers can definitely play a leading role in this effort. While insurance is about getting someone back on their feet when the unexpected happens, maybe more importantly, it’s also about helping people take actions to prevent the unexpected from ever happening. Providing clients with innovative offerings that proactively help them reduce risk and prevent injury is key. 

Kinetic is paving the way with a policy that equips policyholders, at no extra cost, with wearable safety tech that’s proven to reduce injuries. 

What role do you see technology playing in the future of workers’ comp insurance?

Technology is changing fast. We all have devices and sensors that make us safer – we see it every day in our cars and homes. We don’t see it enough in our places of work. In insurance, so far, tech has been primarily used to improve customer interactions, and enhance operations and back office activities. It’s under-utilized in the field in a proactive way to prevent risk. This is what Kinetic is pioneering.

When more workers start using safety wearables to help them move in safer ways, and more safety managers start leveraging collected data to uncover potential risks in the workplace, real change will follow. Fewer injuries will occur, workers will feel and perform better so productivity will rise, and over time, employers’ claims and premiums will go down. Technology is the game changer, and it’s the direction the industry is moving in. 

Do you see similarities between Lemonade and Kinetic Insurance? 

Of course! Both companies are reinventing insurance in their respective spaces. Lemonade has transformed car, home, pet and other insurance products for consumers, delivering a delightful experience and reducing the inherent conflict of interest in our industry. Similarly, Kinetic is reinventing workers’ comp for businesses, using technology to increase safety and savings for policyholders and their workforces.

Both companies are laying a foundation of trust with clients, leveraging state-of-the-art tech to enhance the user experience, increase transparency and provide protection to customers. It’s all quite exciting!

John Peters is Chief Insurance Officer for Lemonade, a digital insurance company built on social impact. Lemonade’s full stack insurance carriers in the US and the EU replace paperwork and bureaucracy with bots and machine learning, aiming for instant everything. A Certified B-Corp, Lemonade gives unused premiums to nonprofits selected by its community, during its annual Giveback. Lemonade is currently available in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and France, and continues to expand globally.

Click the link below to view the official press release:

Press Release – Kinetic Names John Peters to Advisory Board