Employers rejoice over lower workers’ compensation rates and then slack off on the vigilance required to keep safety and workers’ comp management up and running. Workers’ compensation is NOT an expense of doing business. Unlike the rent, fixed for the month, WC costs rise and fall based on the number and cost of workplace injuries. Do not confuse lower workers’ compensation rates with lower costs.
Rather, lowering and keeping low the cost of workers’ compensation is a basic business practice. Employers must ALWAYS be looking at safety and workers’ compensation management programs and be prepared to re-tool as necessary. If you have managed to avail yourself of lower workers’ compensation rates because of past good behavior don’t sit on your laurels.
It’s not enough to pay lip service to safety and workers’ comp management, you must DEMONSTRATE to your insurers there are fewer claims with shorter life spans. At insurance time, you want to show you are a “preferred policy holder,” eligible for any and all “perks” your insurer and state may offer.
Achieving “Preferred Policy Holder” Status
1. Document your safety track record. Include ergonomic best fits for sedentary computer workers, floor coverings, warehouse shelving, training in lifting, climbing, moving, and warehouse safety, removing tripping hazards, safety signage.
2. Show more employees are returning to work more quickly with a goal of 95% injured employees returning to work within 1-4 days. (do not count med-only claims in the calculation)
3. Develop job descriptions for every position and create modified duty job descriptions in order to return injured employees back to work at the earliest possible opportunity.
4. Communicate from Day One with injured employees to show your good faith and demonstrate you are an ally in his/her recovery. Send a card or flowers, and talk to injured employers every week to document their recovery. Keep a Communication Diary to show when and where you communicated and what was discussed as well as the outcome.
5. Training, training and more training. Employees must be in-serviced in safety procedures, and workers’ comp management expectations. Employees should receive training in safety and post injury response procedures, as well as business protocol for convalescence, such as return to work programs, modified duty, weekly communication, etc.
6. Employees must know they are expected to take a Work Ability Form with them to the treating physician, and have it completed and faxed back to the employer with a diagnosis and a list of work restrictions so a modified duty job can be adapted to fit those restrictions. Employees must sign off when they receive training so you can demonstrate to insurers the employee(s) has, in fact, received training.
7. Work Ability Forms must be filed to demonstrate you were on top of each doctor’s visit and were ready to address each restriction with a modified duty job when applicable.
8. Establish and maintain contact with treating professionals where possible. The Work Ability Form is pivotal in accomplishing this because it contains contact information. (workersxzcompxzkit)
If you can demonstrate you have engaged in activities such as these, and have lowered the incidence of work related injuries, you may become eligible for the state mandated credit programs, the insurer dividends and preferred policy holder status making workers’ comp costs not such much an expense as a way of doing business.
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers' Compensation costs, including airlines, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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