Important NJ Worker’s Comp Changes for 2022

New Jersey employers will be facing two important changes to the Workers Compensation system in the New Year. These changes will bring additional costs for employers (while one improves benefits to the injured worker as well) and one change will potentially impact hiring processes for employers.

NJ Work Comp benefits to increase by 10%

As noted in John Geaney’s NJ Work Comp blog, work comp benefits in New Jersey will be increasing by 10% in 2022. This increase impacts weekly payments to employees who are out on workers comp as well as impacting the overall payments for permanent disability for a claimant and increasing the lawyers fees that are paid. One thing to remember is that the increase in payments for permanency awards still happens even if the injured employee even if there was no impact to their wages.

Employers can work to proactively reduce increased workers compensation costs by using customized job descriptions that are up to date, objective and accurately reflect the minimum essential physical and postural demands of the job title. These job descriptions can be used for post-offer pre-employment physical abilities testing, to help guide physicians and physical therapists in rehabilitating an injured employee safely and efficiently, to help identify appropriate modified duty tasks to help return the employee to the workforce as they recover, and to make accurate comparisons of physical abilities as they relate to essential job demands during a Functional Capacity Evaluation.

Gov. Murphy signs A2617 providing preference to employees who have reached MMI

The additional change to NJ Worker’s Compensation occurred in September of this year when Governor Phil Murphy signed A2617 which provides injured workers who have reached MMI hiring preference when they can no longer return to the position in which they were injured. The law does not fully define how the practice of providing preference to these employees will be implemented. The law applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

However, the one area that is defined within the law is that the injured employee must be able to meet the essential functions of the position for which they are applying.

Following a work-related injury, an employer shall provide a hiring preference to an employee who has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and is unable to return to the position at which the employee was previously employed for any existing, unfilled position offered by the employer for which the employee can perform the essential functions of the position.”

This new law adds additional importance for an employer to have accurate, objective, and up to date job descriptions for each job title within their organization. Job descriptions should accurately define the minimum essential physical and postural demands related to the essential tasks performed within a job title. The descriptions should be kept up to date and take into account changes in policies, procedures, and even the items utilized to perform tasks – we have seen that shortages of supplies and mitigation procedures have altered how job tasks are performed. If these changes have become permanent in nature, the job description should reflect those changes and not reflect how the job was performed several years ago.

NJ Ergonomics can help employers to better define their job descriptions with accurate and objective measurements of essential job tasks as measured onsite for an employer. We can assist with helping employers put together defensible post-offer pre-employment testing programs to help identify whether job candidates meet the essential physical and postural demands of the position for which they are being hired.

Friday Five – 4/7/17

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product or research paper.

One of the topics in the news of late that I find to be interesting is the incorporation of new technologies into the automation of the workplace.  These articles are all current as of this week.

A Dallas, Texas based landscaping company has added 50 lawn cutting robots to its workforce with plans to add another 50 to 100 robots each month.  These Roomba style robots for the yard are rented to customers on a monthly basis.

Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi from the McKinsey Quarterly provide a breakdown on which areas of the workforce machines are able to now replace human workers.  The article breakdown the five criteria for replacement of human workers by automation: technical feasibility, cost to automate, benefits of automation, scarcity of skilled workers to perform the task, and the acceptability of automating the position.

Adam C. Uzialko of Business News Daily provides a solid reminder that workplace automation is not solely the realm of robots performing tasks.  Some of the recently automated tasks that he discusses include the logistics associated with looking for and screening new hire candidates.

Locus Robotics has developed warehouse technology that does not replace human selectors but works alongside humans.  Human selectors patrol areas of the DHL warehouse to place requested items in the Locus Robot which roams the warehouse.  In theory, this reduces the amount of walking that human workers perform as the robot takes up that part of the task.  Locus Robotics current solution is finding the areas that allow humans and robots to complement each other rather than replace ach other as they find this to be more cost effective.

3-D printing of clothing might help to send people back to the retail stores for purchasing of clothing instead of purchasing clothing online.  Ministry of Supply is a clothing brand that is introducing custom 3-d printed clothing to its stores.  This allows for clothing that is custom fit to the end purchaser as well as generating less waste materials due to the 3-d printing method.