Decrease seen in workers’ comp cases

The number of workers-compensation claims on Kaua’i in 2004 dropped by more than 200 cases from a year ago, according to information provided by officials in the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR).

The number of days of work lost to injury also declined.

Kaua’i had 1,522 reported workers-compensation cases in 2004. The total cost of those cases $13.5 million, while the cost per case was $5,536, according to the DLIR data.

The total medical cost of these cases was $5.5 million, with a total of 63,865 days of work lost, and one reported workplace fatality.

In 2003, Kaua’i had 1,730 workers compensation cases at a cost per case of about $5,100, and more than 70,470 days of work lost to claims.

There were three work-place-related fatalities reported in 2003, and four in 2002, according to James Hardway, assistant to the director of the DLIR.

DLIR Director Nelson Befitel said the decline in claims and workplace fatalities is “the result of Hawai’i’s employers’ and employees’ strong commitment to safety in the work-place.”

Statewide, the DLIR officials released preliminary data showing that 2,347 fewer workers-compensation claims were filed in 2004, an 8.2-percent drop from the previous year.

The DLIR officials reported that, in 2003, there were 1,089 fewer workers-compensation claims in Hawai’i, a 3.7-percent decline.

Overall in 2004, there were 26,321 workers-compensation cases filed. The total cost of these claims was more than $271 million, with the average cost per case at $6,576. There were more than 1.18 million days lost and 33 reported fatalities, statewide during 2004.

There were also 41,253 “process cases with cost,” which Hardway said were cases that had previously been filed and were lingering in the system.

In a related matter, officials in the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Insurance division announced an 18.2-percent decrease in workers-compensation “lost costs” that was requested by leaders in the National Council of Compensation Insurance.

According to a DCCA spokesperson, independent studies have shown that Hawai’i has significantly more injured workers off the job (52.8 percent of claims) than the national average (30.6 percent of claims).

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