Tom Cruise famously shouted, “Show me the money,” in the movie Jerry McGuire, as he was attempting to get his client to the very top of his career. In the same regard, interested stakeholders and employers seeking to save money in their workers’ compensation programs are usually saying, “Show me what it saved the other guys and what it will save me.”
If the employer believes there is a safe workplace and a good loss run, then it can be a hard sell. Notwithstanding good results, everyone should always seek to do better when it comes to their programs. This includes improving safety and improving ergonomics in the workplace.
Injuries do happen. Here are some examples of companies benefiting from the installation of an ergonomic/safety program. Stakeholders should be asking themselves if there is room for improvement in their offices and workspaces.
Large Scale Construction Company
A company began to notice large spikes in musculoskeletal disorders among its employees. To combat this problem, they hired and implemented a pilot program at one of the company’s larger construction sites that consisted mainly of a customized stretching and strengthening program for the workers based on the specific jobs they were performing at that site.
RESULT: After implementing the program, employees logged over 104,000 hours at that pilot jobsite without any reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders. That is 2,600 – 40-hour workweeks. The employer went from having a significant outbreak of a specific type of injury, to almost wiping it out.
Local Graphics Company
An employer was concerned about rising workers’ compensation costs instituted a comprehensive ergonomics program using employee-led management teams to identify ergonomic risk factors for workplace injuries and establish training and controls to reduce the risk drivers.
RESULT: Within four years, this employer experienced positive results and savings:
- 25% reduction in the number of work-related injuries;
- 39% decrease in the number of back injuries; and
- Overall result in lost work time days by 25%.
The key here is that the employer used an “employee-led” approach. By using their employees as resources, they were able to know what was taking place at their workstations day after day. These employees had legitimate concerns, which resulted in solutions that worked.
Nationwide Manufacturing Company
This employer experienced an increase in injury rates at its upper-Midwest production facility in the early 1990s, as the worker population and seniority rates changed. A comprehensive approach to injury prevention was developed, focusing on:
- Ergonomic training;
- Ergonomic retrofitting; and
- On-site stocking of frequently used ergonomic items such as hand tools, floor mats, footrests, and anti-vibration gloves.
RESULT: The employer reported a significant reduction in lost time and/or restricted workdays as a result of the program. The key is taking a step back, identifying the risk factors, finding out what options are available to reduce the risk, and implementing them. The more you are working at full capacity, the better the production, the stronger the profit margin.
Food Processing Company
This employer noted an increase in musculoskeletal disorders identified at a specific location. To combat these numbers, the employer instituted an on-site medical management program to reduce the number and severity and these injuries. The medical management team consists of an on-site physical therapist to assist with job placement and job analyses, as well as follow up on the doctor prescribed treatment of work-related injuries. The occupational health nurses, physicians, and therapists met together at least annually as a group to discuss the successes of the program as well as to recognize any areas of improvement.
RESULT: This program was successful because it produced a better job placement program. The following improvements were made:
- Job modification process became personalized to the injured employee;
- Communication between various interested parties such as therapist, doctor, team member, and management team were streamlined, which resulted in faster recovery times; and
- In some cases, it led to the prevention of work-related injuries/illnesses.
There are no more excuses for not implementing a safety team or program after reviewing these examples. Each of these stories is a great example of identifying a problem, establishing a plan to correct it, and tracking the successes of your implementations. Your broker/carrier/TPA has resources to get you started in the right direction. The sooner the program is implemented, the sooner to begin saving on claims.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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