Workers compensation is an important consideration for every employer and handling the associated obligations can be a challenge for any business. But employers can have a huge impact by following these six tips to minimize risk of injury, promote a smooth claims process and support employees’ return to work.
- Proactively administer hazard awareness. Don’t forget that the safety of your employees is just as important as the safety of your customers. Salt both front and back doors — many employee slips and falls occur near the back door while performing simple tasks such as taking out the garbage. Be diligent to enforce safety practices such as wearing protective gear, and let employees know that it is a high priority. Educate employees on the importance of eye and hearing protection, protective gloves for handling chemicals or knives, and proper foot apparel for the job.
- Hiring practices. The basics here include driving and criminal background checks, as well as pre-employment drug testing. But finding the best candidate to represent your company is important – and this takes time. Employees who like their jobs are less likely to get injured, return to work faster and will be a good steward of your cost to administer the best care.
- Maintain a good relationship with employees. Make sure that your employees feel valued. Remind them that you’ll do everything possible to help them get back to work as soon as possible. This includes being invested in the recovery process and calling to check in on their progress.
- Assist in accident investigations and actively partner with your Society Insurance representative. Preservation of evidence is crucial. Take photos of the accident scene as soon as possible. Document witnesses and request hand-written statements. Ask supervisors to write a report on what happened while it’s still fresh in their memory. If a product or piece of equipment is involved, do not alter or continue use of the equipment until it has been inspected. Request information on Society’s medical cost control programs.
- Prompt reporting. Evidence critical to your claim will diminish or be lost as time passes. Each state has compliance requirements to ensure decisions and claim payments are timely — in some jurisdictions, employers can be fined for late reporting if their actions caused benefits to be delayed. Contact with the injured worker during the first 24 hours builds trust and a positive relationship between the worker, employer and your Society representative. Collaborative efforts such as these improve outcomes for the injured worker and, generally, lower costs for the employer.
- Be creative and offer light duty work. Light duty work should still be meaningful where employees can feel of value to the company’s success. Employers who actively seek to find light duty work are rewarded with shorter periods of disability. Consider these statistics:
- Workers with an extended disability period require more medical care and lost wages.
- Workers with extended periods of disability become deconditioned, complicating return-to-work efforts and increasing the likelihood of subsequent work injuries.
- Longer periods of disability can become a new lifestyle and have a demotivating effect on the employee’s desire to return to work.
- Employees off work for 12 weeks or more are significantly less likely to ever return to work.
- Longer periods of disability increase the likelihood of developing more complex conditions with poorer outcomes.
- Longer periods of disability increase the likelihood of falling into the litigation cycle and extending claim resolution.
What do you think? Do you already have some of recommendations in place? Share your experiences in a comment below.