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Monday Effect: Weekend Warrior or Couch Potato?

  • Published
  • 14 August 2014
  • Category
  • News

The Monday Effect has been around nearly as long as the workers’ compensation system that spawned it.

Historically, a modest but disproportionate amount of work-related injuries – particularly difficult-to-diagnose sprains and strains – are reported on Mondays compared to other work days. This suggests a certain percentage of individuals who are injured on their day off attribute their complaint to the workplace so they can be covered under their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy.

Weekend Warrior claims no doubt contribute to the Monday Effect, but there are other causes. One of the culprits is sedentary lifestyle.

People who are inactive during their leisure time tend to be more prone to injury on return to work, especially when their jobs require physical exertion. (Have you ever gone on a long plane or car ride and then tweaked your back lifting your suitcase?)

Moreover, with commuting to and from work, sitting virtually all day long and relaxing later at home, millions of American workers are at increased risk of injury as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and other conditions that diminish productivity and even shorten lives, according to researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

In addition to leisure-time exercise, sedentary workers are advised to get up and move around during the work day to improve their health. Employers can do their part by untethering employees from their desks. As circumstances allow, job rotation, short stretch breaks, and sit-stand work stations are among possible solutions. While the “treadmill desk” hasn’t caught on, the availability of onsite fitness rooms, team walking, weight-loss programs and similar initiatives help fight the Couch Potato Effect.

The percentage of companies of any size offering at least one wellness program grew from 58 percent in 2009 to 77 percent by 2013, according to the Employer Health Benefits 2013 Annual Survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. This trend is attributed, in part, to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which contains provisions to encourage employers to reward employees for participation in health goal-oriented programs.

The sorry state of health in the working population is another key driver.

It’s too soon to fully understand the ACA’s impact on the Monday Effect. However, as formerly underinsured or uninsured Americans gain access to basic health care coverage under the ADA, it is presumed they will use it for Weekend Warrior complaints rather than file false workers’ comp claims.

In addition, as worker health improves overall, work-related injury, illness and claim frequency rates should fall because workers who get the support they need to prevent and effectively manage chronic disease and disabling conditions are safer workers.

In a May 5, 2014 Insurance Journal article on 10 challenges in workers’ compensation, Harry Shuford, chief economist with the National Council on Compensation Insurance, predicts that comparative effectiveness research could very well end up being the biggest thing to come out of the ACA as far as workers’ comp is concerned.

That’s encouraging news. With agreement on evidence-based best practices in the prevention and treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses, the Monday Effect may need to be redefined.

Related reading:

ACA: An act of unknown consequences for workers’ compensation, article by Derek A. Jones, Milliman, July 20, 2013

Is Workers’ Compensation Covering Uninsured Medical Costs? 49 Indus. & Lab. Rel. Rev. 690, 1996.

Monday Effect in Workers’ Compensation, research by Ben Hanson

2012 President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition: Too Much Sitting: Health Risks of Sedentary Behavior and Opportunities for Change

Posted by Karen O’Hara, Director, Marketing and Communications, WorkCare. Karen has 25 years of experience as an occupational health and safety journalist, industry consultant and conference planner.

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