10 Ways To Prevent Workers’ Comp Fraud

More and more cases are being publicized for successful prosecution of workers compensation fraud.  The more prominent cases are usually publicized due to their large monetary values.  However, fraud can occur at any level with it all adding up to a significant loss in dollar amounts.  Additionally, there appear to be more findings against employers than employees which means success rates may be woefully low in actual employee values.

 

It’s almost impossible to find accurate records of defrauded amounts, cases reported, prosecutions, or convictions.  Few organizations actually keep record and there is no federal central bureau or governmental entity compiling data.  Restitution recovery amounts (when reported) are dismal.  Most recovery amounts are less than 1% of the amounts ordered.  Many employees are unable to repay and others simply ignore the order considering recovery punishment is seldom enforced.

 

 

Workers’ Comp Fraud Drives Up Premiums

 

Since recovery dollar amounts are low, insurance premiums are increased.  The lack of restitution translates into claims impact by increasing experience and retro modifications.  The employer always ends up paying more.  Self-insured parties must retain more money for claims.  State guaranty funds lose out and pass this on to employers left in the system.

 

It is in every employer’s best interest to prevent workers comp claims to help stop the whole potential fraud spiral from starting in the first place.  There are several things an employer should do in order to keep claims at bay and protect their business from fraud:

 

  1. Hire the right employees. Contact previous employers. Check the references listed on their application.  Complete a through pre-employment background investigation.
  2. Report all claims immediately. Make sure the injured employee is receiving proper treatment, benefits, and is compliant.
  3. Keep in contact with both the employee and the adjuster during the duration of the claim and push for a speedy recovery and return to work. Intercede if the injured employee has problems, and conversely cooperate with the adjuster if any suspicions arise.
  4. Investigate the claim. Visit the employee’s work environment/accident site.  Talk with witnesses.  Check all equipment involved.  Address and correct any and all safety issues in the workplace to prevent further injuries.
  5. Train all managers and supervisors in proper policy and procedure for handling injuries.
  6. Be alert for common fraudulent claim filing: Monday morning, pre-layoff, pre-vacation, pre-holiday, unwitnessed claims should all send up red flags.
  7. Be sure all employees fully understand the workings of the compensation act. Explain their rights, benefits, and obligations as well as your own as an employer.
  8. Gain knowledge of traumatic injury and occupational disease. Learn normal recovery times, medical treatments, and average fees.
  9. Pull loss runs and review periodically for accuracy, proper payment, disability compliance, and injuries casually related to the current claim. Contact the adjuster for clarification of any discrepancies or issues.
  10. Obtain interface with unions or employee organizations for input and cooperation in preparing policy and procedure.

 

Preventing workers comp fraud starts with preventing claims.  Gain more insight from insurance agents, loss control experts, lawyers, and adjusters.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Photo credit: CA Dept of Insurance via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Acclaimed Investment Banker Elected to the Ringler Board And Other News Tidbits

Acclaimed Investment Banker Elected to the Ringler Board of Directors

Ringler, the nation’s largest settlement planning company in the nation, is pleased to announce that Peter C. Jachym, a veteran investment banker, strategic advisor and private equity investor in the insurance and asset management sectors, is now a member of the Board of Directors.

 

Read more…

 

 

Express Scripts CEO: Many drug list prices are still too high

CNBC’s Meg Tirrell speaks with Express Scripts President & CEO Tim Wentworth on pharmacy benefit managers and drug pricing pressure. [Run time 3:28]

 

Watch CNBC Interview

 

 

 

 

Crawford hires COO from Hanover Insurance

Atlanta-based Crawford & Company, a provider of claims management solutions, has appointed Andrew Robinson as its global chief operating officer. In his new role, Robinson will have the responsibility of Crawford’s four business units, including Broadspire, US Services, International Operations, and Garden City Group, alongside information technology on a global basis.

 

Read more…

 

 

The Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine

The mention of workers’ compensation or occupational medicine conjures up images of debilitating injuries and payroll assistance. However, a majority of people believe that these two terms are interchangeable. In fact, there is a difference between workers’ compensation and occupational medicine. While workers’ compensation will help pay your bills, occupational medicine will get an injured employee back to work sooner.

 

Read more…

 

 

Are We Fulfilling Our Obligations to Injured Workers?

The workers’ compensation system here in the US has existed for more than a century. So how are we doing, after all that time? The US Department of Labor recently posed the question, “Does the Workers’ Compensation System Fulfill Its Obligations to Injured Workers?” They published their findings in an exhaustive report.  It is not flattering. In fact, the report offers what the DOL calls an “alarming” conclusion: “working people are at great risk of falling into poverty as a result of workplace injuries and the failure of state workers’ compensation systems to provide them with adequate benefits.”

 

Read more…

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Eliminate Most Frequent Cause of Seasonal Workers Comp Claims

Winter weather is upon us (at the time of this writing it’s 8 degrees in Kennebunkport, ME), and that often means an increase in claims. However, many winter weather claims are preventable. Whether it’s a slip/trip/fall, electrocution from using unfamiliar snow-removal equipment, or a temperature-related ailment such as trench foot, simple precautions can often protect workers — and your bottom line.

 

While you might not have control over the weather, you can at least control the risks faced by your employees. And you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot to reduce or even eliminate many weather-related workers’ comp claims.

 

Here’s a look at how to prevent the most frequent — and preventable — cause of seasonal claims.

 

Slippery Slopes

 

Icy, wet pavement and floors can wreak havoc for workers. Whether inside or outside, employers should seek to have the driest, safest surfaces for their employees.

 

Clear Snow & Ice

The most obvious solution for preventing slip and fall injuries in winter is to make sure snow and ice are cleared from all walkable surfaces and salt or other deicing material is laid down.

 

This includes sidewalks, entryways and parking lots. While state laws vary on whether injuries in outdoor areas are compensable through workers’ comp, making them safer can protect your employees as well as vendors and other visitors to your facility.

 

Place Signage Warning of Slippery Floors

In areas such as doorways, it’s also smart to place signage warning of slippery floors. Absorbent mats are another method to help keep inside walkways dry.  Good lighting should also be considered for areas where floors and pavements can be slippery.

 

Instruct Workers To Wear Footwear With Good Traction

Workers who are more likely to be outside should be given, or instructed to wear footwear with good traction, such as slip resistant shoes or boots. They should also be informed that taking shorter steps and walking slower will help them react better to sudden slippery spots.

 

Place Ladders Only On Cleared Surfaces

Workers who have to be on elevated surfaces, such as roof tops need to take extra precautions. They should be provided and trained on fall protection methods. Ladders should be placed only on surfaces that have been cleared of snow and ice. Where possible, outside vendors should be employed to remove snow from roofs and other areas.

 

Conclusion

Employers should try to avoid sending workers outside in frigid temperatures and where snow or ice is problematic. Scheduling work for the warmest part of the day is advisable. For employees who must work outside, they should be trained about the injuries and illnesses that can affect them and understand the hazards of any equipment they may use, such as snow blowers.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 More Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

As reported in yesterday’s blog “4 Keys to a Healthier Workforce”, comorbidities in your workforce add significant costs in workers’ compensation claims.  While our New Year’s resolutions are still alive, take action today to consider these 4 more keys to a healthier workforce:

 

Lifestyle Management Programs

 

Employers can do a variety of things to get people moving. In addition to such things as workshops on various wellness issues, companies can allow breaks for workers to engage in physical activities. Or set up walking or other exercise programs. Smoking cessation programs can be done either onsite, or at a local hospital or other community facility.

 

Convenience

 

Getting employees to participate in wellness programs is nearly impossible if it’s not easy for them to be involved. Third shift workers, for example, might feel left out of group activities that take place during the day. Using technology such as internal websites and mobile apps, can help these workers feel more involved. Encouraging workers to eat better can be made easier by providing healthy snacks onsite, such as in vending machines and during meetings.

 

Fun

 

Employees are much more inclined to participate in wellness activities if they enjoy them. Competitive teams can be established to challenge one another to walk X number of miles, or to lose the most weight in a given time period.

 

Confidentiality / Privacy

 

Many employees are concerned their health information may get into the wrong hands, causing them embarrassment or even to lose their jobs. Any health related information provided to the employer needs to be in the aggregate, with no indication a health issue is related to a specific individual.

 

Research shows for every $1 spent on wellness programs, the cost of medical care is reduced overall by $3 to $4 – an excellent return on investment an employer cannot ignore. Ref. Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

4 Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

Comorbidities may be costing you a bundle. There’s overwhelming research that shows employees with certain health conditions are more likely to get injured on the job, and then take longer to heal and return to work. Consider the following effect on workers’ compensation:

 

  • Diabetes average workers’ comp medical costs 5x higher
  • Smokers are 40% more likely to have a work injury
  • Obesity is associated with 2x likelihood of a workplace injury, 7x higher workers’ comp medical costs, and 13x more days away from work

 

Employers can take a multitude of actions to help workers become healthier. And now’s a good time, as many people put ‘a healthier lifestyle’ atop their New Year’s resolution lists.

 

 

Wellness Programs

 

An effective wellness program can not only save money, but it can expand the bottom line through increased productivity from healthier workers. However, employers need to understand it is a long-term investment and the return might not be seen for several years.

 

Companies of any size can implement some type of wellness program. In fact, a recent survey showed more than half of employers with at least 50 employees have adopted a program. Most important is to make sure the program is specific to the company’s culture and needs. That said, there are several elements that can help result in a successful wellness program.

 

 

4 Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

 

Executive Buy-In

 

Getting employees to participate in a wellness program has to start at the top. C-suite executives need to be engaged or the effort will have little chance of success.

 

Senior managers need to understand the business case that prevention can reduce injuries and mean more money for the organization. Larger companies may have the advantage of being able to use claims data and health plan utilization showing healthier workers have fewer claims and shorter recoveries. For smaller companies, information from organizations such as NCCI or WCRI can help make the case. There is also publicly available evidence from OSHA and NIOSH.

 

 

Goals

 

A look at various company records and reports — absenteeism, productivity, health insurance costs and biometric screening, for example, can help determine what types of things are needed for a company. Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and relevant, and time based. Goals can be set by a group of workers representing many or all departments and at all levels to help ensure employee buy-in to the program. The group can be a formalized wellness team, in which each participant has various roles and responsibilities.

 

 

Integration With Safety

 

Reducing workplace injuries and improving overall employee health should go hand-in-hand with safety programs. Breaking down silos can expedite the effectiveness of both programs. Departments should be instructed to share information and resources. In larger companies, that means departments involved in any aspect of health benefits and health protection should communicate.

 

 

Communication and Education

 

Newsletters, emails, and posters are among the ways employers can let employees know about all the various components of the wellness program. They can also be used to help instruct workers on healthy lifestyle changes they can make. For example, low-calorie does not necessarily equal healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. People who understand how to read food labels are more inclined to buy food that offers good nutrition. Various health recipes can also be included, along with information on the importance of, and how to get a good night’s sleep.

 

When effective, wellness programs can reap significant financial benefits for companies, such as reduced injury rates and the number of lost work days. The key is to get buy-in by working with employees throughout the organization.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Utilize Different Return To Work Approach For Different Employees

During the course of business, employers will find that all employees are not the same.  Speaking differently to each employee in order to get the same result is normal and necessary to keep business flowing steadily each day.  It only stands to reason that the same approach should hold true when working with employees to get them quickly and safely back to work after a worker’s compensation claim.

 

 

Different Return to Work Approach For Different Employees

 

There are many different return-to-work programs that can be utilized, but they should be matched with specific employees’ personalities to get the most successful results.  While one employee may respond well to several phone calls a week, another may find that to be too intrusive.  Finding the balance is the key to getting employees back to work.

 

There are primarily four different employee personality types ranging from fully satisfied to completely unsatisfied.  The four types of employees:

 

  • Satisfied-Active– one who is happy and needs no coercion or prodding to return to work.
  • Satisfied-Passive– one who is happy, but complacent with staying out of work.
  • Dissatisfied-Passive– one who is unhappy, but does not willfully concoct schemes to stay out of work. However, they may take advantage of the system to stay out longer.
  • Dissatisfied-Active– one who is very unhappy with his/her situation and will actively attempt to take advantage of the system.

 

The majority of employees will fall under one of these description categories and will respond similarly to different return-to-work strategies.  Handling each situation according to the personalities of the employees is the best tactic.

 

 

Suit The Personality Of The Employee

 

For example, a satisfied-active employee might be someone who has not missed a day of work in 10 years, plays on the company softball team, and is always looked to as a go-getter.  A workers comp claim might be perceived as a setback to this type of individual and little or no interaction from the employer will be necessary in order to get him to return to work. A recommended strategy is to send a get well card and work in partnership to provide a productive transitional duty position; activity such as aggressive surveillance can have the opposite effect and make the employee unwilling to return to work.

 

An active-dissatisfied employee in the same situation will take a completely different approach and have a higher likelihood to abuse the system.  Employers of active-dissatisfied employees will need to take a much more agressive approach including implementing fraud prevention measures, hiring investigators, and having almost constant contact with the employee in order to get him back to work.

 

Without using a different return to work approach to suit the personality of the employee, the employer can inadvertently stall the process.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Proper Ergonomics Are Good Fit To Reduce Workers Comp Costs

Employers and other interested stakeholders can take a number of proactive measures in their places of employment that directly impact their workers’ compensation programs.  These measures directly concern what goes on in the workplace and how their employee’s conduct themselves.  While these efforts take time to implement, the savings can be immense.

 

 

Areas of Concentration for Cost-Savings

 

There are a number of work injuries that occur every year, which are preventable.  A leading mechanism of injury is the result of employers who do not see a value in workplace ergonomics and avoidance of repetitive trauma injuries.  Common injuries that result include tendinitis, bursitis, systemic diseases (eg – rheumatoid arthritis and gout), carpal/cubital tunnel syndromes and lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow).

 

There are many areas where employers can concentrate their efforts to save money in their workers’ compensation programs.  The process should be ongoing and needs to include everyone, including employees.

 

 

Review of Workplace Ergonomics

 

Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their work environment.  The study of workplace ergonomics has been an issue since the development of safety standards in industrial America.  It became more commonplace in the late 1970s when employers started to recognize its value as a tool to increase productivity and reduce work injuries.

 

There are three main areas of focus for ergonomics to reduce work-injuries and to promote a safer work environment.

 

  • Work activities of any nature should allow the employee to maintain a safe and healthy posture while performing the necessary activities of their employment;

 

  • The muscular force exerted by an employee when performing all work activities should use the largest muscle group. This prevents strains, sprains and unnecessary wear and tear on joints; and

 

  • All activities should consider the range of movement employees are required to make during the course of their day. This is an important consideration to important body parts such as a person’s head, trunk, and upper limbs.

 

 

Repetitive Work Activities and Injury Prevention

 

Traditionally workers’ compensation programs have focused on these type of activities in blue-collar settings.  Proactive members of the claims management and risk management teams will consider it for all positions, including office-based position.

 

When evaluating positions for the perils of repetitive movements, it is important to consider a number of factors.  This will include the ability to modify a particular job to focus on the findings of an ergonomics review.  Pay close attention to the following:

 

  • The ability of an employee to take regular work breaks that do not disrupt performance. Allowing employees to sit/stand while they work can reduce stress on one’s body.

 

  • Evaluate if the work activity allows the employee to maintain a “neutral body position.”

 

  • All positions and workstations should be set up to allow employees to sit straight up. There should be an emphasis on one’s core.

 

  • The placement of a computer monitor can make a significant difference in workers’ compensation cost savings. If it is placed too high or low, the resulting stresses can cause neck pain that influences other parts of an employee’s body.

 

A proactive employer supported by an innovative claims management team can reduce the physical stresses that result in countless work injuries every year.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Workers’ compensation programs can reduce costs by taking steps that concentrate on ergonomics and the movements employees make while performing their work activities.  While it may take an investment of time and money, the long-term benefits to a program are immeasurable.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Return-To-Work: Create a Win/Win in Your Work Comp Program

Notwithstanding the conventional wisdom, injured workers of any age have an interest in returning to work.  Sadly this is often an over-looked part of many programs as employers and interested stakeholders focus on other issues.  Now is the time to change this thought process.  This is based on the reality that any workers’ compensation program can create a win for everyone by focusing on return-to-work.

 

 

Challenges When it Comes to Return-To-Work

 

There are many challenges employers and other stakeholders face when creating or revamping their return to work program.  Due to these barriers, the people in charge of the program decide to move on and focus on other aspects of their programs.  Some of the main challenges faced by workers’ compensation programs include:

 

  • The aging American workforce. Continued anemic economic growth places pressures on the average American’s pocketbook.  This has changed the thought process by employees, as they get older.  When an injury occurs, employers and members of the claim management team face challenges of extended vocational rehabilitation, the possibility of retraining and the ugly specter of a permanent total disability (PTD) claim.

 

  • The ongoing opioid drug epidemic. Change will only occur in the overuse and abuse of prescription opioid-based medications only when the hearts and minds of Americans demand real action.  Until that time, all parties charged with the role of defending a workers’ compensation claim will need to keep an eye on this issue.

 

Countless other factors impact workers’ compensation claims management.  One practical and fundamental solution is to reduce the costs in a workers’ compensation program through an effective and efficient return-to-work program.

 

 

Return-To-Work: Creating a Win/Win Mentality

 

The beauty of an effective return-to-work program is that it reduces the inherent tension within the adversarial workers’ compensation system and creates a win for everyone.  While it may take some work, the cost savings are immense.

 

 

Creating a Win for Employees

 

Countless studies demonstrate that an injured work, regardless of age or time spent in the workforce, want to return to work following an injury.  When a workers’ compensation program is set up correctly, there is a “win” for the employee.

 

  • Productivity: If an employee is able to return-to-work, they remain productive.  This leads to a sense of satisfaction for anyone recovering from even a severe workplace injury.

 

  • Maintaining a Consistent Work Schedule. There are numerous intangibles associated with a consistent work schedule.  Instead of sitting at home while they recover, people who are working, even reduced hours, have a more positive attitude.

 

  • Feeling safe allows anyone to be more productive.  Safety and security in knowing you have a job results in greater financial and emotional security.

 

 

Creating a Win for Employers

 

A well return-to-work program also creates the sense of a win for employers.  This allows the stakeholders on this end of the equation to see value in all employees—regardless of ability or restrictions.

 

  • Decreasing Work Comp Exposure. Once and employee demonstrates the ability to return to work, the future exposures in any program dramatically decrease.  These savings are found on the indemnity, vocational rehabilitation and medical portions of a claim.

 

  • Effective Cost Containment. In addition to decreasing costs, an effective return-to-work will allow the program to better anticipate future expenses and effectively allocate scarce resources.

 

  • Employee Retention. Any successful employer retains its employees and reduces the loss of institutional memory from leaving when turnover occurs.  Keeping employees on the job following an injury also allows that employer to spend less time and money identifying new talent and recruiting new employees.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Employers seeking to reduce their workers’ compensation program costs need to make an investment in their return-to-work program.  It also has numerous benefits that reduces the tension of the workers’ compensation progress and allows for all involved to win.

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Important Factors In Workers Comp Defense Attorney Selection

Selecting the right person to defend a workers’ compensation claim is an important component of any program.  Not selecting the right attorney can be detrimental.  This includes failing to settle cases in a timely manner, unnecessary litigation costs and other missed opportunities.  Now is the time to review the panel of attorneys you are working with and remove those who are not meeting the needs of your program.

 

 

It All Starts with the Selection Process

 

Over the years, experienced claim handlers develop relationships with countless attorneys who defend workers compensation and other insurance related claims.  This results in a referral process where various firms are selected to represent the program on claims and the funneling of a consistent file load to those who make the grade.  While the development of these relationships is great, it can often have a negative impact on your claim files if the attorneys are not meeting the objectives of your program.

 

The review of defense attorneys and panels should done on an ongoing basis.  While the development of a prior professional relationship is important, it should never be the sole or controlling factor.

 

 

Important Factors to Consider

 

There are a number of factors members of the claims management team should consider when selecting the right attorney to defend a case.  This includes some thoughtful consideration on the part of all members on the claims team who need to deal with and interact with attorneys.

 

  • Ability to think independently. All workers’ compensation cases are subject to evaluation based on criteria related to the statute and interpreting case law.  While component counsel must understand these basics, effective defense attorneys have the ability to peel back the layers of a claim and develop strategies that will drive a case toward settlement.

 

  • Ability to be a zealous advocate. This is the core of what separates a good attorney from one who is great.  In workers’ compensation, a zealous advocate is able to see through the smoke and provide the claims handler with an honest analysis on the case and all likely outcomes.  They will also be able to provide common sense solutions that take into consideration the law and other extraneous factors that are in play when it comes to a demanding file load.

 

  • Ability to “win” every case. The inherent bias in the workers’ compensation system toward the employee and compensability of claims means a majority of cases that go to hearing will result in an award to the employee.  It is important to work with those defense attorneys who understand the biases within the system and proceed with caution.  Top-notch defense attorneys are able to pick the cases that should go to court, and settle those that are destined for failure.

 

 

Other Important Intangibles

 

Interested stakeholders responsible for programs should also monitor and be aware of important intangibles that make a defense attorney great.  This should never include the inducement of free tickets to sporting events or fine wine.  Instead, those who seek to improve the counsel they work with should look at other facts:

 

  • Ability to seek creative solutions to complex problems;

 

  • Responsiveness to inquiries such as voicemail messages and email;

 

  • Regular status reports and forthright analysis on files; and

 

  • A positive reputation amongst peers and ability to deal with difficult opposing counsel and claimants.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Most claims management teams have a number of good defense attorneys to work with on their disputed files.  The ability of claims handlers to find the great attorneys will reduce time spent on files and promote savings in their workers’ compensation program.  Part of this process includes the need to evaluate all defense counsel on a regular basis and work only with those dedicated to effective and efficient representation.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

3 Ways to Make Your Worksite Injury-Free

Keeping workers safe on the job doesn’t need to entail major expense, and it’s the best way to keep your workers’ compensation costs down. But it’s easy to overlook the steps needed to prevent on-the-job accidents, no matter what type of work being done. Employers can take a cue from the person who has, arguably, the most dangerous job in the world.

 

Nik Wallenda, of the famed Flying Wallendas, walks a tightrope. But he considers himself an artist rather than a daredevil because of the safety measures he takes. Before each walk, he spends months preparing for the worst case scenario — having the local fire department douse him and the wire with gallons of water before going over Niagara Falls, or generating 90-mile-an-hour winds with airboats pointed at him as he practices for a walk above the Grand Canyon. He even rehearses his rescue plan — if it’s ever needed — where he kneels down to the wire while rescuers can get to him within 90 seconds.

 

While the dangers he faces are much more than those for most workers, his methods are best practices that everyone can use: understanding the risks, training all involved, prepping for the actual event.

 

Assess the risks

Before sending workers into areas with known or unknown hazards, companies should be very familiar with the risks involved. For Nik Wallenda, that means researching the area where he plans to do a wire walk from all angles — including below, where onlookers could be at risk.

 

It’s similar for other professions; construction workers shouldn’t put ladders or scaffolding on ground that may be unstable, electrical workers shouldn’t be lifted up to utility wires on a day when high winds are expected, and office workers shouldn’t be sent on an errand in a company car that has features with which they are unfamiliar.

 

Companies can begin to identify risks by looking at the worker, tasks to be done, tools and the environment and how they may relate to one another. Some things to consider include overhead obstructions, power lines, moving equipment at the site, debris such as tree branches or cords, drop-offs or holes, ice and snow, and inadequate ventilation or lighting.

 

There are a variety of ways to assess risks.

  • The first step can be just taking a walk around the worksite to see what hazards are obvious.
  • Talk with people familiar with the work and/or the area can provide valuable insights. Get employees involved in the process to reveal known risks and better ensure they will take necessary precautions to protect themselves.
  • OSHA’s website osha.gov has practical guidance on typical hazards.
  • Read the instructions and material safety data sheets from manufacturers to pinpoint likely risks and how to reduce them.
  • Review past accident records to identify and avoid repeat accidents.

 

Once hazards are identified, employers can consider various controls to reduce risks to employees.

 

 

Train and Educate Workers

 

Sending an untrained worker to do a job is like sending someone who has never driven a car into a truck on the highway — it’s a recipe for disaster. Your workers need to know what the risks are and how to avoid them. For example, if falling over tools is a danger, workers should be told to keep the work area clean and given a place to put tools when not in use.

 

Assigning responsibilities to specific personnel better ensures proper oversight is taken. Every employee should be aware of his own and the employer’s responsibilities for health and safety, and be familiar with ways to manage the hazards.

 

Any employee who could be exposed to a workplace hazard should be required to receive training. Issues they should understand are:

 

  • Emergency procedures
  • Injury/incident reporting
  • What to do if a coworker is injured
  • Proper use and maintenance of the equipment needed

 

Those doing the training should be vetted to ensure they are qualified, and should be required to meet certain criteria. Information about safety, such as posters, should be posted in areas where the greatest number of workers are likely to see them, such as a breakroom.

 

 

Prepping for Specific Activities.

 

Before he walked over Niagara Falls, Nik Wallenda and his team treated the wire and used special materials on the soles of his shoes to prevent slippage. In much the same way, employers should make all necessary preparations before workers embark on any hazardous task.

 

Conducting a final training — or prep — session allows one more opportunity to make sure workers know what they will be doing, how to prevent injuries, and ask any lingering questions they may have. The trainer or a qualified supervisor can conduct the session. It might also be advisable to act out skits where employees could or will face hazards and how they should handle them.

 

OSHA requires that employers provide workers with an environment that is “free from recognized hazards.” In addition to meeting the government’s mandate, a safety plan properly implemented can protect workers and save significant dollars on workers’ compensation claim costs.

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 
Photo credit: _gee_ via Visual Hunt / CC BY  

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