10 Ways to Kick Start a Workers’ Comp Stewardship Program

If you’re trying to improve your workers’ comp program, ask for an annual stewardship meeting with your insurer/third-party administrator. But if you really want to see game changing results, initiate a stewardship process. It’s a collaborative approach that takes some leg work and elbow grease, but can truly push your workers’ comp program to the next level.

 

In a typical stewardship meeting a representative for the employer and insurer or third party administrator discuss a pre-prepared report that shows your claims and program trends from the previous year and discuss goals for the next year. While it can be beneficial to get this snapshot of your workers’ comp program, there is much more that can be done.

 

Best outcomes for injured workers, optimized claims performance, and a reduction of your total cost of risk should be the goals. Savvier companies find more value and better outcomes through an intensive coordinated approach that starts long before the actual stewardship meeting.

 

Prep Work

Conversations with a multitude of people ahead of time can help you define what you want included in the report, the metrics you want analyzed and the parameters. Among those you may want to consult with are your carrier or TPA account manager, risk management information systems personnel and data analysts; claim and safety consultants; your insurance broker or agent; and others within your own organization.

 

Key steps in the process at this point include:

 

1. Set the date. Decide when you want the report completed.

 

2. Review past reports. This can help you establish a baseline.

 

3. Formulate a concept for the report.

 

4. Discuss the format and content of the report; set goals, objectives, metrics, deliverables, ideal takeaways, and the list of attendees.

 

5. Review preliminary data. Easily available analytical reports can be your starting point until you determine what needs to be customized, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Not all data is going to be relevant. Some examples of the types of data may include:

  • Frequency analysis: claim volume, litigation, examiner caseload and lag time.
  • Severity analysis: average/total incurred, average/total paid, loss stratification, lag analysis, litigation, subrogation/recovery.
  • Ratio analysis: closure, medical vs. indemnity, payment analysis.
  • Managed care analysis; case management, PPO penetration, diagnostic, physical therapy, bill review.

About two months before the meeting, you can conduct a preliminary data review and determine what additional data you need.

 

6. Draft a preliminary report. Conduct a collaborative review of it and make any changes based on feedback.

 

7. Finalize the report.

 

The Meeting

 

A key to a truly effective stewardship process is to avoid the inclination to only see the positive trends of your workers’ comp program. Equally, or even more important are the areas for improvement, which is where you can make a significant impact. Often carriers or TPAs will avoid showing you potential problem areas, for fear they might be held liable. But it’s important to see both. For example, an increase in frequency does not necessarily signify a problem — if your payroll has increased through company growth. You need to see all of the trends.

 

8. No finger pointing. Honesty and openness are imperative among all parties to the stewardship process for better analysis and improvements. Each should have a sense of collective buy in to the purpose and outcome of the session.

 

9. Evaluate the results. Discuss the reasoning behind any emerging trends to see what they mean and what might be done to ensure they lead to best outcomes. Look at any services, initiatives and program enhancements that may be impacting them. Changes to the company’s financial stability, openings or closings of new facilities, or natural disasters may have occurred that could affect trends.

 

10. Set measurements. Determine goals and metrics to better understand the success of strategies you have implemented. Create a detailed action plan with target dates.

 

Summary

 

The stewardship process can be a rich tool to raise the bar on your company’s workers’ comp program. But failing to properly plan, having unreasonable expectations, inviting the wrong attendees and having an inability to be completely open can make the stewardship meeting a disaster. Getting commitment from all parties to a specific plan with responsibilities and due dates will lead to a successful stewardship process and best outcomes for your injured workers and your company.

 

 

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/

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©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.

Keep Work Comp Costs Grounded With Travelling Employees

Urban legend and stereo-type opinion says traveling employees have it made.  They see large parts of the country or world, use the finest lodgings and restaurants, and entertain clients or customers in lavish ways.

 

 

Reality:

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Most traveling employees are sardined on airplanes, use moderately priced hotels and rental cars, eat at chain restaurants, and generally work very long hours.

 

 

Workers Compensation Exposure:

 

Traveling employees can suffer from:

 

  • Lack of Sleep (primarily from reporting to the home office on their daily activity in their hotel room in the evening)
  • Long Periods of inactivity from having to work in an office setting
  • Travel Fatigue and jet lag
  • Poor restaurant diets of fatty and salt laden food
  • Loneliness from family separation
  • Exposure to the public in terminals, restaurants, for possible contraction of illness or disease
  • Fatigue from having to prepare for the job accomplishments that must be obtained
  • Circulatory problems from having to sit on planes, trains, long vehicle rides and office sitting

 

This list could go on.  These conditions are enough to show employees suffering from hypertension, obesity, mental depression, physical depravity, and a host of other medical issues.

 

 

Workers Compensation Cost: 

 

Courts have well established that any accident, illness, and death, can be compensable since the employee is deemed in the course and scope of employment during the entire trip.  This includes portal to portal (or Door to Door) from the employee’s home.  Hence the employee might be in a car accident on the way to the airport and the injury would be held compensable.

 

Some exception may mitigate or preclude compensability if the loss is due to willful, wanton, or intentional acts.  However, even when such possibility occurs the burden is on the employer to prove the denial with very strong evidence.  Suicide might fall into this category.  However, it can be held compensable when evidence shows that the job travel and pressure caused the depression that triggered the act.

 

Drug, alcohol, or any substance abuse that triggered the loss might be defensible as willful, wanton, or intentional.  But again, corporate policy and very strong evidence must be produced.

 

 

Jurisdictional Problems:

 

There can be jurisdictional issues.   Almost every jurisdiction has extraterritorial provisions in their acts that allow a non-resident employee to present the claim.  It is not surprising to find many employees have chosen jurisdictions with higher benefits or better conditions than their home jurisdiction.  This requires employers to have an all-state endorsement on their workers’ compensation policy.

 

Should the employee have to stay in another jurisdiction for medical care or recovery; controlling, monitoring and processing the claim become large obstacles.

 

In such instances the claim unit should transfer the loss to their local claim office in that jurisdiction.   If the employer or claim unit does not have their own office, consideration must be given to hiring a local adjuster claim service.

 

 

Some Solutions:

 

Begin by reviewing if the travel is necessary; can the project be accomplished from afar?

 

Today’s electronic capabilities are excellent.  Conference meetings online with video conferencing are available, as well as the ability to share screens to view files and records with security for these uses well placed.

 

If physical attendance is necessary consider:

 

  1. Making the time away as short as possible.
  2. Try to avoid employees traveling on weekends and over holiday periods.
  3. Chose the most comfortable mode of travel.
  4. Chose hotels and motels close to the site.
  5. Arrange for gym memberships as most hotel gyms are limited in equipment.
  6. Encourage family contact be done daily. Allow at least 15 minutes.
  7. Ask the location to suggest restaurants that feature healthy food choices.
  8. Designate a company person be a travel planner and coordinator.
  9. Reduce daily reporting time to highlights only.
  10. Encourage sleep time, and arrange some free time.
  11. Allow same or similar pursuits the employee does at home.
  12. Provide all necessary and proper tools to allow the task to be done comfortably and efficiently.
  13. Assigned employees that like to travel for the task.

 

These few items are the beginning of the items needing to be addressed.   Conference with employees, travel agents and clients to establish the travel program.

 

 

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. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.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.

 

Spring Cleaning Your Work Comp Program

With the arrival of warmer weather, the time for reviewing your work comp program is upon us. Most often during the first of the year, your mind as a risk manager can be elsewhere working on other projects. Now is a good time to focus your attention to how your work comp program is running, and how you can make improvements to your system.

 

 

 

Review Your Vendor Contracts for Performance

 

 

If you have signed contracts with national vendors, you may not be in tune with how they operate every day. This is where you should solicit some feedback from your claims adjusting crew.

 

 

IME and Nurse Case Management

 

A good starting point is with the vendor programs you use. How do the IME and nurse case management vendors you utilize most often work for you? Did their costs increase, but their service and attention to your account decrease? Are adjusters complaining about the time it takes to get an IME back from the doctor, or lag time in case updates from the nurses in the field?

 

If so, it may be time to switch to a different vendor. Just because your vendors sign a contract to secure your business it should not prevent them from complying with the demands for service towards your account. If anything, you should demand even more attentiveness towards the handling of your files.

 

Oftentimes a contract means the vendor can get lazy, and focus their attention on the carriers and employers to which they have no contract. Do not allow them to take comfort in your contract. A better scenario is to not sign a contract at all. This prevents them from falling back on their laurels, and makes sure you continue to get top notch service in exchange for your continued future business.

 

 

Transportation and Translation

 

How about your transportation and translation programs? Did you utilize them properly? Did they satisfy your needs at the costs they promised? Were they available and present at doctor appointments, or were some appointments rescheduled due to their conflicts?

 

You should never have to move your appointments around to satisfy their schedules, if anything it should be the other way around. If you are not getting that type of attention from those providers, it is time to shop around for some new companies to cover those areas for you.

 

 

Diagnostic and Physical Therapy

 

Looking at diagnostic and physical therapy providers, how did the outcomes turn out? Was therapy going along with the course of the file, or was excessive therapy being recommended by the various clinics? Did the MRI and other diagnostic vendors have appropriate facilities in network, or did they have to schedule many tests outside of their own network? If most came out of network, you are probably not seeing the cost savings they have promised. The only way it is effective to use a diagnostic vendor is if they are providing you cost savings on top of state fee reductions. If they are just providing savings on the testing, but then charging additional costs for scheduling and obtaining the reports, then it is not worth your while.

 

 

 Special Investigations Unit

 

Next take a look at the results from your SIU vendors, and those that performed on-site surveillance. Were they successful in gathering film of your claimant? Or were they charging you for watching an empty house all day? Were they charging a flat fee for surveillance, and then racking on tons and tons of mileage charges? Were the background checks thorough and applicable to the file? Did they comb the internet for social media accounts and other information, or did they just pull the DMV info on the type of car the claimant drives?

 

Make sure you are satisfied with their overall product, and that results were positive in the defense of your files. I understand that positive hits on surveillance are part luck, but if your provider was always unlucky, it’s time to look for a new one. It is impossible for them to strike out 90% of the time on their cases. If that were the case that vendor would be out of business. Again some vendors get comfortable with those service contracts, and do not put their 100% effort in to helping you achieve your goal.

 

 

You as the risk manager may have many more vendors that you have to deal with, and I have only scratched the surface here. Now may be a good time to ask your adjusters how things are going, and if they have any complaints or issues with the vendors assigned to your work comp program.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, 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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

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SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

 

New Work Comp Case Reinforces Importance of Employer Involvement

A recent NY decision, “Matter of Damin v Stop & Shop”, 2014 NY slip Op 01650, 3/14/14, once again shows the importance of employer involvement to produce useful results in compensation claims. Although the decision is from a NY court the lesson is universal – employers who are directly involved in their claims will be the ones to see benefits.

 

 

Employer Return to Work Held Up In Court, Carrier Inquiry Didn’t

 

A worker who was classified as permanently partially disabled was sent a letter from the carrier asking for recent details of the worker’s efforts to find work. When two requests went unanswered, the carrier asked to reopen the claim and have further payments halted because the worker had voluntarily retired from the labor market (or at least had provided no information that he was still part of the labor market). The court ruled that benefits should continue since the carrier had not offered a job, offered retraining or offered assistance with a job search.

 

The recent decision contrasts sharply with the Browne v Medford Multicare decision of 2011, where a worker had payments halted because he refused to participate in an employer created return to work program. But the two cases are not contradictory. Where the employer is directly involved and a real job offer has been made the outcome will be far better than merely having a carrier make a bare inquiry as to recent efforts.

 

But the court in the recent case cited return to work efforts that are best made by an employer, not a carrier. And there is far more credibility attached to a former employer providing a modified job at a location where employee had previously worked than a mere inquiry about recent job searches made by a carrier.

 

 

Efforts at Workers Comp Cost Reduction Should Not Be Left to Carrier

 

Efforts at comp claim cost reduction should not be left to a carrier. An employer involved in the details from the outset will be setting the stage for real accomplishments in every state. However, the natural tendency has been for employers to assume that they must wait until the carrier or TPA makes the first moves, an incorrect plan of action. An employer with a plan in place will be far ahead of an employer waiting to react to a carrier’s actions, if, in fact, the carrier has any action at all.

 

Employers should realize that their roles cannot be passive.

 

 

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

How Does Increased Minimum Wage Affect Workers Compensation?

Increased wages lead to increased wage loss exposure. It is not rocket science. This is going to create a problem with the insurance industry. Carriers already are riding on tight loss ratios as it is, and if states continue to address minimum wage levels and increase them to attract workers back to the workplace, it is going to create a number of issues.

 

 

People Adjust Lifestyle to Live Off Unemployment

 

But we have to face reality here. Current minimum wage levels are impossible standards to live on, especially for families with young children. The current low levels are what fuel the unemployment rate to begin with. If you make minimum wage, say $9/hr, and you work 40 hours that means you will gross somewhere around $360/week. After tax, you might be lucky to take home $280. Have you tried to live on $280/week with a family? It is nearly impossible. But, if you are currently taking home $240 to sit on your butt and collect your unemployment or work comp check, it is a no-brainer. Not to say that all minimum wage people are home collecting unemployment while watching bad daytime TV, but I think it’s easier to live on $240/week when you don’t have to commute, don’t have to pay for child care, and don’t have to pay for much of anything else.

 

People are adjusting their lifestyle to live off of their unemployment checks for as long as they can get the benefit, and when the rug is finally pulled out from under them they search for any type of employment possible. Most minimum wage jobs are heavy duty, and require a lot of back breaking work. This is not good for claims people if the worker if out of shape from sitting around the last handful of months, even years.

 

These minimum wage jobs saw a lot of work comp activity over the years, especially as the economy worsened. Since it would be harder to attain work, injured workers may try to milk as much as they can out of a claim just because it is easier to live off of 80% of your gross wages on comp than it is to work full time and incur 100% of your costs. If you are ‘off on comp’, now you can be at home with your kid and you are not filling up your gas tank every week to make a 30-minute commute to work. Not to mention if you are ‘off on comp’ there is little chance you would be terminated from your job, since then the Carrier would have to pay you comp until you were released from medical restriction.

 

Using classic economic thought, the idea of promoting a higher wage should increase the amount of people that will look for work since now you are providing the incentive to return to the workplace. When a $9/hr job turns into a $12/hr job, unemployed workers now are ready to strap their boots on and get back to work. This is great, but what pitfalls are being overlooked from a work comp standpoint?

 

 

Out of Shape Workers At High Risk For Injury

 

One issue is out of shape workers coming back to the workplace. If you have been taking it easy for 6 months, it is probably not great that you are thrust back into full speed heavy duty repetitive work. This leads to almost immediate injury, which can be complicated if this is a new employer for the worker. Afraid to rock the boat on their new hire probationary period, injured workers seldom voice any injury until it is way too late, and a major injury occurs. This is extremely costly to the employer, since a routine 2-3 week back strain has now morphed into a potential back surgery.

 

Economic cutbacks also lead to a lot of layoffs. This is always a slippery slope because workers want to retaliate against their employer, usually by filing comp claims in an effort to secure some money in comp wage loss while they look for new employment. This spikes claim counts for the employer, making them less attractive to the underwriters at their carrier or any carrier looking to write new business.

 

There is also a productivity learning curve with a group of new hires at this example employer. It takes time and resources to train new talent, and if you spend 2 months training a worker only to have them leave, the employer is back at square one with a job that needs to be filled by an able-bodied worker.

 

 

Layoffs & Litigation

 

Going back to layoffs and litigation, if word spreads around that one worker netted a fat settlement on an injury claim, it won’t take long for other workers to potentially jump on the bandwagon. This is scary for everyone involved, and the only outcome is going to be increased claim costs, increased legal expense, and increased headaches for those involved in the defense of these types of claims.

 

Increased wage costs for employers also mean that cutbacks can come from other benefits, mainly health insurance coverage. It has long been documented that employers with an affordable health insurance plan have workers that are in better health because they make the effort to go to their primary docs for physicals and for other small injuries that have the potential to be aggravated in the workplace. When you start to cut corners in health insurance coverage, you are going to pay for it on the back end with increased work comp claims. Workers see work comp as essentially free medical coverage with the bonus of wage loss pay while out of work.

 

As with any change, it is going to take some time to find out what a good hourly rate is for what any employer deems their “entry-level” employment job positions. Offer too low of a wage and you may have a hard time trying to keep workers around as they see the work efforts not worth the pay. Offer a good wage, and you may entice workers to come back to the employment arena after spending the summer fishing and hanging out with their kids. State enforced minimum wage levels may help in some areas, and hurt in some areas, but I think everyone can agree that something needs to be done to get workers back to work.

 

 

Employers Need to Do Homework Prior to Hiring

 

Employers need to do their homework on their new recruits, including drug testing, pre-employment physicals, and routine background checks in order to hedge their risk as much as possible. You never know when your next new hire may turn into your biggest work comp expense of all time.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, 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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Employers in NY Should Pay Wages After Workers Comp Injury Report

If an employer receives a report of a work injury or illness, does it “help” or “hurt” the employer to pay the worker wages after the report? In the past, many employers would halt all contact with the worker after a claim was reported. Others would voluntarily pay all or some wages and claim a reimbursement from later comp awards.

 

 

Wage Payments Can Be Made Without Admitting Liability

 

But there was a problem. In order to claim the reimbursement the employer had to acknowledge that it was making the payments for a work related injury or illness. Several years ago, however, the comp law was amended to permit the employer to make payments without conceding liability for a comp claim., provided that the employer filed a timely notice with the WCB (form C-669) 18 days after disability commenced or 10 days after the employer had knowledge of the injury, whichever is later.

 

The employer can make payments for up to one year; if they continue after that, it will be taken as an admission that there is a valid comp claim. Whenever the employer stops payment, it must file form C-8/8.6.

 

The changes have received little attention. But before the changes, there were frequently lengthy disputes over whether or not the payments were for comp (in which case the employer could be reimbursed) or for some other reason (in which case the employer might not be reimbursed).

 

 

Changes In Law Require Proper Paperwork Be Filed

 

An employer would be wise to be familiar with the changes (contained in NY Work Comp Law, Sect. 21-a).

 

If an employer wishes to make payments to an injured worker WITHOUT admitting liability for a comp claim, it MUST file form C-669 with the board, and form C-8/8.6 when it stops. Copies must be sent to the worker and the attorney.

 

Many more employers would make such payments if they were assured that it does not “hurt” a comp claim. In the past, far too many attorneys would argue that such payments should always be taken as an admission of liability, even though few employers ever saw a single medical report which would indicate, one way or the other, if the injury was work related.

 

 

Employers Making Wage Payments Helps More Than It Hurts

 

Employers should be willing to make such payments, within reason, since they greatly reduce the size and length of a comp claim. Without the wage loss payments by an employer, the worker must wait, at least, a few weeks to get the first check from a carrier; and the checks are often a small fraction of the former take home pay. But delays of months, or even years before the first check arrives from a carrier are not exactly rare. They are, in fact, common. If an employer thinks that only the carrier will be blamed, it is very much mistaken.

 

Prompt attention to a situation fraught with problems – such as NY work comp claims – will make it possible to settle dangerous claims for a fraction of what the result will be if the claim gets off to a bad start. Many workers who never have encountered the comp system make assumptions of what will happen, when they are hit with the ice water of reality they seek lawyers.

 

Employers are not normally required to make wage loss payments – but it helps more than it hurts.

 

 

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net

 

Editor 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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Employers: Know Your Work Comp Claims – Or Else!

In comp claims, there is no substitute for knowledge of the facts. Not just the underlying facts about the injury, but the facts about how the claim is being handled.

 

Last week, an employer who was experiencing a rash of dubious comp injury reports had received no information from the comp board or the carrier on how the claims were being handled. The employer was also required by federal law to monitor employee injury reports and make sure that the employees could safely operate heavy vehicles. The employer, therefore, wanted to review the claim folders before the comp board, which, in NY, it has the right to do.

 

 

Employer Needs To Be Proactive To Obtain Information

 

But the employer did not have the board file numbers for the claims. A phone call to the carrier elicited no cooperation whatsoever. “Why do you want to know the claim numbers? Sorry, we don’t have them.” (Two of the claims were over a year old and had been to hearings.)

 

The employer was pleased to discover that the files could be located without the WCB number and without the carrier’s assistance or approval. The employer, however, was disturbed at the carrier’s attitude. Why shouldn’t an employer have access to the facts?

 

In NY, employers, until recently, were automatically notified of hearings and the the results. To be sure, that is only a bare minimum but it is a lot better than nothing. But if we go back even farther we come to a time when the carrier did not even attend hearings – just the employer. And the law has not changed since then. The employer has been gradually removed from the claim process until it has far less access to information than any other party in the process.

 

 

Employer Has Right To Full Access Of Claim Information

 

An employer has every right to full access to the information in a claim folder and does not need anyone’s permission to get it. But what should it do if its carrier doesn’t see things that way?

 

Obstructions on the information highway are like obstructions on a vehicular freeway. Don’t try to go over them or through them – and don’t put on the brakes and sit in the middle of the traffic. Instead, slow down and cautiously drive around them.

 

A carrier who tells an employer, “Why do you want to know?”, is inviting short pithy replies. A perfectly acceptable response might be, “Because I’m the only one paying for all this”, even if it fails to arouse sympathy. A better one is, “Because the law makes me, not you, primarily responsible for poor claim performance and harm to my workers”.

 

Raw information is so valuable that it is worth nearly any effort to obtain it. The employer should also be aware there are many laws that require the information that the employer needs. Comp claim information is needed for proper handling of unemployment claims, discrimination claims, private disability claims, tax matters, ERISA, ADA, FMLA, as well as a host of other laws. So an employer who is asked, “Why do you want to know”, is speaking with someone who is unaware of the comp law since its very beginnings, not to mention all the other laws passed since then.

 

Don’t get mad. Be patient, ask others to assist – and get the information.

 

Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net  

 

Editor 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: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  

 

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

7 Ways to Build Better Work Habits and Build Cooperation

As members of a management team, around the winter season, reevaluate for the upcoming year.  Set goals, benchmarks, implement new techniques, purchase new materials, etc.  But there is one area that seems to be focused on more than others: And that is ‘how can we use what we have to be better?’.

 
Chances are in a medium to large shop, there is plenty of talent, in more than one form.  The workers can be your most important capital. So why not focus on how to better use that talent? (WCxKit)
 
 
1.  Provide the best tools so employees can perform efficiently
As an example, if you drive cars, this does not mean that all all drive a top of the line Cadillac.  But this is meant more to show how to provide the best output for workers.  Make workstations adjustable so workers can perform at the levels they need to.  This will increase output and performance, not to mention that it will make workers less prone to injury, especially in repetitive-motion workstations. Extra lighting can provide clarity and precision. Hand trucks and dollies can make moving heavy materials easier and quicker, and so on and so on.
 
 
2. Don't run it like a prison
The workplace does not have to run hard-nosed and rigid.  As an employer allows some flexibility such as flex work hours, rotating job tasks, allowing hourly breaks, then you can best utilize workers time at work for production.  A rested workforce is your best workforce.  Sometimes having job rotation can provide breaks for those that do heavy duty work day in and day out.  Also  this can reduce injury since those workers that just do heavy lifting or moving of materials can get a much needed break from time to time throughout the day.  You could also discover that one of your workers may be better suited for another type of job task, versus the one they are currently in now.  This could lead to increased production, and better efficiency. 
 
 
3.  Keep an open mind
Time and time again we recommend listening to employees and their suggestions as to how changes can be made to make production better.  Discuss alternative job tasks and how things could be done quicker and easier.  Remember these are the people that do these jobs all day, sometimes for years.  They have ideas and suggestions and you have to make management become approachable.  If someone knows that you will take the time to listen to them, you may get an idea that  you can implement.  Not everyone will hit the ball out of the park every time, but you could stumble upon something that can really make a difference, and it could change the way things are done on a daily basis.
 
 
4.  Encourage healthy lifestyles and reward those that make a change
A healthy body is one that comes ready and able to work, and able to take on the challenges of the day.  Healthier employees also have less sick time away from work, and have fewer injuries.  A lot of companies now offer discounts to local gyms, reduced medical premiums for wellness exams, smoking cessation programs for free, etc.  The HR department probably has a lot of ideas and plans that are already in place to promote a healthier lifestyle, and the incentive programs to go with it, so check in to some of them and try to implement some over the course of a year.  Provide some incentives for the workers to participate, and see what happens.  I bet that more will participate than you thought.
 
 
5.  Launch a return to work program
It has been well documented that the longer a person is out of work, the harder it is to get them back to productive employment and there is a strong correlation between a high return to work ratio and a low mod.  Older employees also take longer to heal than younger ones, so consider home-based employment.  If you provide some light duty work, employees know that even though they have an injury, they can still work and make a decent wage.  This will help them transition back into full time work once they are released from medical care, and will reduce claims dollars that are spent on lost wages while injured.  It will also free up full duty employees to do something more productive, while those with medical restrictions can take care of the lighter tasks you need done day in and day out. Make a "wish list" of tasks you wish you had someone to help perform, then use the wish list to create transitional duty tasks. For instance, I wish I had someone to proofread my writing.
 
 
6.  Set up a mentoring program
It is always hard to start a new job.  Nobody wants to be the new person, so set up a mentoring program to help those new or less-experienced employees. Shadowing programs work well also. The new employee can gain some great knowledge from the veteran worker, including how to do things quicker, properly, and more efficiently. A good mentoring program will improve productivity of the newer, younger employees while making veteran workers feel like they can contribute more to the company other than just cranking out their job tasks day after day.  The more you make workers feel like they are involved, the better, harder, and more dedicated they will work for you.
 
 
7. Do not be afraid to hire experienced workers
There are many benefits to hiring experienced workers. These workers already have sound work habits, years of experience in the field, and the skills the company needs to take you to the next level of competition.  These workers also have less out of work distractions, such as needing more time off for child care or more time off for school commitments.  Experienced workers will also add some diversity in workforce, contributing their ideas and experience to the team projects and ideas.  If you utilize their assets, the workplace will benefit. (WCxKit)
 
 
Summary
A New Year means it is time to reflect on the year to date, and focus on what you can do better for the upcoming New Year.  But you should also think about what the veteran workers can bring to the table for the company.  Experienced workers are a great untapped resource, and their ideas and work ethics can be beneficial in more ways than one, especially in fields other than just being at their workstation.  Tap the greatest free resource- the employees.  Listen to their ideas, and make the management team approachable when someone has an idea about how something may be able to be done better.  If you make this one of several things to focus on, accomplishing the rest of the goals could just be that much easier.

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

WORKERS COMP BOOK for BROKERS and AGENTS:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact 

Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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