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Study: Injuries Rising Among First-Year Employees

Close up of unrecognizable manual worker assisting his colleague with physical injury at work.

Research shows the need for better safety orientation and training

With so many people changing jobs in the last two years, it's perhaps unsurprising that a higher share of work injuries are happening among people new to their jobs.

A new report published in EHS Today found that employees are reporting injuries significantly earlier in their tenure with their employers than in previous years, and in particular, first-year employees make up a larger share of workers' compensation claims. In 2021, 38% of workers' comp claims were filed by first-year employees, compared to 32% in 2011.

According to the survey, the increase was largest in the manufacturing and wholesale industry, with 42% of claims among first-year employees compared to 31% a decade ago.

The survey's authors suggested that with the current labor shortage, long-tenured employees may be taking on additional responsibilities, leaving less time for safety training for new hires. These findings indicate a need for better safety training and orientation for people who are new to their jobs. They also drive home the need for injured workers to know their legal rights from the first day of work.

How workers' compensation claims work within the first year at a new job

The first thing new employees need to know about workers' compensation is that, unlike other benefits such as health insurance, there is no waiting period for workers' compensation coverage. Even if you are injured on your first day of work, you're covered by workers' comp. There is no difference in your legal rights.

That said, certain aspects of a claim can get somewhat more complicated during the first year of work. In particular, the calculation of an average weekly wage (AWW) is different for first-year employees. Remember, if you're hurt on the job and can't work, workers' compensation pays two-thirds of your AWW to replace your lost income during that time, subject to a state minimum and maximum.

In general, your AWW is calculated based on your earnings in the 52 weeks prior to the injury. Your employer fills out a form, called Form C-240, to verify your gross pay for those 52 weeks. However, if you've been at a job for less than a year, then you obviously will not have 52 weeks' worth of pay information for that job. In this situation, the Workers' Compensation Board may ask your employer to fill out Form C-240 using the salary of another employee with the same or similar job title and salary who has worked the full year.

Depending on the circumstances, this can significantly affect the value of your claim. Your workers' compensation attorney can advocate for the most favorable calculation of your AWW to put the most money in your pocket.

A workers' compensation attorney can protect your rights in this situation

New York law provides the same protection to every injured worker, whether you've been at your job for 10 years or 10 days. Our law firm has the experience and resources to navigate complex workers' compensation cases and advocate for full compensation under the law. If you've been hurt on the job, whether you've been there for years or only a short time, get an experienced workers' compensation lawyer on your side. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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