Workers’ Compensation in the Manufacturing Sector
The manufacturing industry represents close to 15 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Economic Policy Institute, and in 2013, it was responsible for 12 million employees or 8.8 percent of all U.S. workers. The sheer size of the industry makes workers’ compensation insurance a vital requirement for employers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies the sector as any companies involved in the “mechanical, physical or chemical transformation of materials, substances or other components into new products.”
The Landscape of Manufacturing Operations
Companies involved in manufacturing fall within many different categories. While bigger operations are commonly described as plants, factories or mills, smaller facilities that make use of the materials produced by the initial manufacturers also fall under this industry. For example, a manufacturer could produce flour ground from wheat in the initial operation, and a bakery could manufacture edible items using the flour in a subsector operation. The landscape therefore has several layers of industry included in the description.
Subsectors of the Manufacturing Industry
Manufacturing takes place in various subsectors, including:
- Textile mills, which convert basic fibers into fabrics
- Leather and allied product manufacturing, including the tanning and curing of leather and the manufacture of products such as rubber or plastics
- Computer and electronic product manufacturers
Other subsectors of manufacturing include food, wood products, printing and related activities, metal and metal product development.
On-the-Job Injuries in Manufacturing
Some common injuries for the sector overall include trips, slips and falls, repetitive motion injuries, cuts, burns and amputations. Injuries specific to manufacturing include those sustained operating heavy machinery or crushing by dropping heavy items on a part of the body.
The Hidden Costs
In a manufacturing environment, it’s not only the injured employees who get hurt, and not only the employers who are affected by losses.
Managing the administrative aspects of a workers’ compensation claim takes time away from the business owner or manager’s regular work. Without a qualified agent to assist, the likelihood of errors is high and this results in spending excessive time resolving the issues.
Other employees can also be affected by an injury to one worker, because they might be required to clean up the resulting damage or file a witness report. Often, the morale of employees is low after a workplace accident, particularly a fatal one. Workers may be easily distracted and concerned about sustaining similar injuries. Routine procedures can be disrupted while the company deals with the incident, and this can lead to a loss of productivity.
The Value of Workers’ Compensation in Manufacturing
Ensuring workers’ compensation insurance for employees not only helps to protect the workers against the costs of injury, but also helps the business owner shore up operations in a time of uncertainty. Experienced workers’ comp agents can provide invaluable advice to companies and help with understanding the requirements of the claims. A strong relationship with a workers’ comp agent can help owners and managers resume operations sooner instead of later.