I always laugh when I hear my friend talk about the fact that “Big brother is watching us.” Really, what does that mean? I’m sure the government has bigger things to do than watch my pal’s daily activities. This guy is the last of the great types of people out there. For example, he has never paid a bill online. He doesn’t own a cell phone. He refuses to join those clubs at the supermarket so you can get the discount card because “They will track what I buy, and I don’t want them to know my weekly grocery list.”
I’m serious, this is a real guy. He is a great friend, and a great insurance professional, but I really think he needs some professional help. These days everything is intertwined. Social Networking, internal company networking, outside work groups and seminars, etc. Everyone learns a lot of everyone else because they see each other at the same seminars, they mingle at the same vendor day outings, and they talk about current events over lunch, etc.
The point of this is that we are all aware that someone is indeed watching our activities to some degree. It may not be satellites from outer space that are focused on following us around, but a lot of businesses have surveillance cameras and they use them all day, every day. The reason for the cameras will vary from employer to employer, but it is safe to say that the main reason is for security, and the second reason is for being able to obtain evidence should something happen to an employee or customer. What are the benefits of having cameras around your workplace?
1. Obtaining video evidence
Having some video footage of an injury or crime is fairly concrete. The tapes will not lie. If you can identify the subject on the videotape, it is damning evidence against them should they try to say that they are not guilty of whatever wrong that was committed. Now that most videos are digital, these files can be emailed and downloaded to your insurance company no matter where they are located. An adjuster has a picture in their mind of how the injury or act was committed, but being able to see actually what happened can really nail the defense of a claim.
2. Increased safety
If an employee knows that the cameras are rolling they are less likely to take a safety risk while working. Workers will cut corners now and then in any capacity. Sometimes these corners will lead to an injury. Most jurisdictions have a defense against injury caused by a direct violation of safety protocol. If you take the video evidence away, you lose some of the structure to your defense of a claim.
3. Employees know you they are being watched
Employees behavior will change if they know they are being watched, especially when it comes to horseplay around the workplace. A degree of horseplay is to be expected at work, whether it is harmless or not. In fact, most jurisdictions allow work comp coverage of a horseplay injury to some extent. Of course, not all employees will be aware of this fact. Just the presence of cameras will lessen horseplay overall, which will save an injury at some point. I have seen countless claims as a result of horseplay, some minor in nature and some that result in surgical intervention. Any way that you can decrease these claims should be seen as a positive.
4. Psychological impact
Going back to my paranoid pal, you can see the psychological impact that cameras can have. Workers will be on their best behavior if it is known that there are cameras around and that these videos are constantly being reviewed. Several studies have been done that show the positive impact of cameras in the workplace, so why should you not implement them at your work?
5. Camera review opens a light duty job possibility
I have worked with a lot of employers that use videotape review as a light duty job with employees that have medical restrictions from a comp claim. They will monitor the closed circuit TVs, watch for spills, report theft or suspicious behavior, and also be in charge of tracking and labeling the video files for storage. This is not the most glamorous job in the world, but it is one that needs to be done. It is also job that benefits the employer, especially if it helps to deter theft.
The use of surveillance cameras in the workplace is nothing new. Employers that use them have less injury, especially from questionable incidents around the job floor. My advice is to look at your options and get some consultations on how this can benefit your workplace. The cost of the equipment is little in comparison to the cost of a severe injury happening at your workplace.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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