Report Card: Best, Worst States for Workers’ Compensation

August 14, 2009

Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Utah and Virginia do the best job handling workers’ compensation injuries, while Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Wyoming perform the worst.

That’s according to the latest report card from the California-based Work Loss Data Institute (WLDI). The report, 2009 State Report Cards for Workers’ Comp, is meant to help employers, insurers, third party administrators, state governments and consultants answer, “Who is doing well and why?”

WLDI’s State Report Cards are based on data from OSHA that covers recordable injuries and illnesses. The 2009 release adds four more years worth of data (2003-2006), which makes for a total of seven years of data since it includes statistics collected in the last publication, which was released in 2004.

With seven years worth of data, WLDI was able to track trends and not only give states a grade based on most current performance, but also to give them a tier ranking” based on how they performed on average over the seven years, and whether they have an upward, downward or stable trend. There is data available for 43 states, plus Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

Similar to past reports, the 2009 State Report Cards compare states on five different outcome measures for each year: incidence rates; cases missing work; median disability durations; delayed recovery rate; and key conditions: low back strain.

Iowa performed the best of all the states for 2006 and Minnesota came in a close second. Both states received a grade of “A+” based on an average of their 2006 scores in the five categories above.

Illinois came in last, with Wyoming, Rhode Island and New York very close to the bottom. In total, nine of the 43 states received a grade of “F” in 2006. WLDI prepared a summary of each grade for all states.

In terms of the tier ranking system, the Tier I states are Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Utah and Virginia. Tier I means that the state had an average grade of “B+” or better, and a trend going up or level. Those five states were doing great and continuing to improve.

Eight states fell into the opposite category (Tier VI), which means they had an average grade of “D-” or worse, and a trend going down or level. The worst performers for the years 2000-2006 were: Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and Wyoming. The report includes a summary of tier rankings for all states.

The full report is available for purchase from WLDI in both electronic and hardcopy formats

Work Loss Data Institute is an independent database development company focused on workplace health and productivity based in Encinitas, California.

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