There are many adages out there about circumstances just not adding up. Two of my favorites are “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and “Things aren’t always what they seem.”
This can be especially important when it comes to new hires for your company. The greatest, most amicable person can walk through your doors and they could be the perfect worker in your mind. They could be experienced, charismatic, professional, and give you the best interview you have ever conducted.(WCxKit)
However, there can be issues lurking underneath that can expose your company to workers compensation costs.
What your new hire may not have told you:
1. They have had four knee surgeries.
2. They have been out of work watching TV for six months — or six years for that matter.
3. They are just lackluster work performers bouncing from one job to the next.
4. They lack the personality to deal with customers.
6 Ways Pre-employment Physicals and Background Checks Protect your Company:
1. Have all applicants complete a pre-employment physical before they can be accepted as new hire.
This should be standard for any position. Whether it is a sedentary desk job, or a job out on the production floor, having a physician do a physical exam on your candidate can save you a lot of aggravation down the road. This potential new hire may carry a lot of baggage medically that could become your responsibility after their first day of work. Physicians can spot surgical scars or other objective findings on exam that this person may not have indicated to you during their interview. Often it is thought that only workers performing heavy tasks should be considered for physicals. However, sedentary jobs can lead to back pain, neck pain, and repetitive injuries that may have been prevented if a physician noticed it during a physical exam before they were accepted as a new hire within your workforce.
With the current economy, a significant number of people have been out of work for a very long time. This leads to general de-conditioning, and since they are a new hire they want to work as hard as possible to gain your trust and acceptance. Oftentimes these people out of work that start work again are the first to be injured, since they are physically unable to perform the job at the pace required without injuring themselves. Monitor your loss runs, and if new hires are accountable for the majority of your injuries, then you have identified a problem that needs immediate correcting. It can be corrected by modifying your new hire screening by implementing a physical exam before they are hired and start work.
2. Have a detailed job description for your physician to review while performing the physical.
Just saying a worker will spend 90 percent of their time at a desk and 10 percent of their time walking to the printer and back is not a fantastic job description. Consider what goes in to a particular job day after day:
1. Talking on the phone.
2. Staring at a computer screen.
3. Reaching for things in a file cabinet.
4. Bending and squatting.
5. Reaching overhead.
6. Frequently lifting 40 pounds or more.
Whatever it may be the more detailed you are in your job description the better the doctor can assess your candidate and decide if they can physically do this job on a long-term basis in a safe manner. In the end, nobody knows the jobs within a workplace better than the employer. Additionally, the more detailed and elaborate you are in your job description, the safer your workforce will be because you will be hiring qualified, fit workers that can safely perform their job day after day.
3. Make passing a drug screen mandatory for all new hires.
This should go without saying. With prescription drug use on the rise, even though your potential hire looks on the outside to be healthy and responsible, there could be a lot internally that is physically wrong with them. For example, in one claim a worker sustained a back strain. During the interview, he said he did not go to the doctor right away because he had just taken muscle relaxers. Now, how did he get those? Were they his prescription? Does he take them every day? Does he have a prior comp claim that is active with another employer? Does his doctor refill the prescription without actually doing an exam? If this new hire already has some type of injury before even starting at your jobsite, how can you safely protect yourself and your fellow employees from being injured by someone under the influence of narcotics legally or illegally?
4. Ask for professional references and call them.
Most job applicants bring a reference sheet with them to the interview. Often these are professional references, but at times, a neighbor or relative could be used. Not that a relative could not be used as a potential reference, but they are not always unbiased? Calling all references should be standard practice in all HR departments. Again, not only to protect the company from making a bad hire, but, since this person will be working in and around all your other employees, you should not put them at risk by hiring an employee who past employers labeled as lazy, unsafe, or unreliable.
Make sure the references consist of previous employers – where the employees no longer work. Calling a current employer can be deceptive since they may give a good reference to get rid of a bad employee.
5. Have a private investigation firm run a background check on your applicant
Most PI firms have access to an insurance claims database, civil court records, police records, etc. This is especially important if you have workers driving your vehicles. Past traffic violations, DUIs, and other vehicle violations can be very detrimental to your company. By hiring such a person and putting them on the road in your company vehicle, that person is representing you and your company. The risk involved in vehicular accident claims is huge. You should only have workers with the greatest of safety records on the road representing your company. Equal attention should be given to potential new hires with extensive workers compensation histories, including litigation. This shows that they know the comp system, and are not afraid to retain counsel and litigate a claim if need be. Litigation increases your claims expense, and often a settlement will include their resignation from your company anyway, so before they start work for you, make sure they are not a “career claimant” bouncing from job to job looking for a settlement.
Beware: This is not foolproof: In one situation, a women in Charles Manson’s group did not show up on a criminal background check because the arrest was more than 25 years ago. She had turned state’s evidence and thus had not ever been “convicted” of the crime. The job she was applying for: childcare provider. Yes, this is true. Fortunately, someone in her neighborhood let the company know about her past track record. Hardly the type of person suitable for childcare.
6. Personality Profiling
Consider personality screening. Not every employee is suitable for every job. Customer service jobs require a pleasant, patient personality, and not everyone fits that mold. Personality profiling evaluates whether the moral compass is pointing the right direction. They check for traits such as entitlement mentality, theft, deception, cheating, dishonestly, drugs, hostility, and propensity to violence. In some situations the lost time rate dropped dramatically when using this type of testing. (WCxKit)
In conclusion, hiring new employees involves bringing a certain risk to your company. By being attentive and properly screening your new hires before they start work at your company, saves time and headache down the road by keeping the bad employees out, and only having a reliable, safe, productive workforce that is capable of doing their day-to-day jobs in the safest manner possible.
CHECK WITH LEGAL COUNSEL BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY TYPE OF EMPLOYEE SCREENING. STATE LAWS MAY LIMIT OR PROHIBIT THE TYPE OF TESTING THAT CAN BE DONE IN YOUR JURISDICTION.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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