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The WCIRB has released The World of Cumulative Trauma Claims report which focuses on workers’ compensation claims for workplace injuries that result from repetitive mentally or physically traumatic activities extending over a period of time.

CT claims have always been a part of the California workers’ compensation system. Recently, although overall claim frequency and average indemnity and medical costs have been flat to declining, the proportion of claims involving CT has increased sharply. This report explores the world of CT claims including how they differ from specific injury claims and the key drivers of the recent CT claim increases.

CT claims have continued to grow at a significant rate through the economic recovery. CT claims are also much more likely to be reported late, so early estimates of CT claim proportions typically understate the true proportions for an accident year.

Like many cost components, CT claim rates differ significantly across the regions of California. While the proportion of CT claims has typically been higher in the Los Angeles Basin, these rates have diverged significantly over the last several years and are also showing a similar pattern in San Diego.

All of the recent growth in CT claims has been in the Los Angeles and San Diego regions. CT claim rates in other regions of California have declined and are lower than the 1998 levels.

Although the WCIRB does not use the phrase “epidemic” some might say this adjective accurately describes the phenomena in Southern California. According to Merriam-Webster, an epidemic is something that is “excessively prevalent”, or “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.”

Beginning in 2008, Construction CT claims increased in the Los Angeles Basin and has accelerated in recent years to be 4 times the 2007 lows.

Los Angeles Basin CT rates in Manufacturing diverted from the rest of the state starting in 1999 and accelerated rapidly starting in 2012. The Los Angeles Basin’s share of all Manufacturing claims has been consistent over time, suggesting that some shifting from specific claims to CT claims may be occurring. The recent CT rates of over 20% in the Los Angeles Basin are among the highest of any industry and the growth in this industry is one of the most significant drivers of recent CT claim growth.

The proportion of CT claims has increased in the Los Angeles Basin Trade industry in recent years though at a somewhat less significant rate than in other industries. The percentage of all Trade industry indemnity claims from the Los Angeles Basin has also increased which is partially attributable to the increases in CT claims.

The vast majority of indemnity claims in the Information industry are from the Los Angeles Basin. Unlike other industries, CT rates in the Information sector across California regions have cut in half from the high in 2004.

The Finance & Insurance industry typically has higher CT claim proportions than any other industry. CT claims decreased to historical lows in the Los Angeles Basin during the 2007 – 2008 financial crisis and rebounded since 2010 to more typical levels for this industry.

CT claims have increased significantly in the Los Angeles Basin Real Estate industry and in 2016 are 4 times the 2008 level. CT claims in Real Estate in other regions of California have also increased, but by a less significant magnitude.

The proportion of CT claims in the Administrative industry is increasing across all regions of California though at a faster pace in the Los Angeles Basin.

The ratio of Arts & Entertainment CT claims in the Los Angeles Basin reached a historical high of 15% in 2015, but shows some indications of decline in 2016 . The proportion of all Arts & Entertainment industry claims from the Los Angeles Basin has increased almost 10% in the last 3 years, driven in part by the CT claim growth.

Beginning in 2008 , the ratio of CT claims in the Los Angeles Basin Hospitality industry increased significantly, more than doubling through 2016. Growth in Los Angeles Basin CT claims from this large industry is one of the most significant drivers of the overall recent growth.

The full report available on the WCIRB website continues to report similar data supporting the conclusion that there is indeed a CT epidemic in the Los Angeles Basin.