A new year is upon us. Now is the time to think about easy to implement measures to reduce workers’ compensation program costs. Here is a list of some resolutions to make to ensure 2021 will be a successful, and safe year.
- Emphasize Safety in the Workplace: Safety is something that needs to be continually reinforced. There are many ways to do this. It can include sending a weekly safety newsletter, seeking input from all employees, and taking time at every company meeting to discuss safety issues. When safety is emphasized, all employees will take notice.
- Be a Safety Role Model: Actions speak louder than words. When the leaders within a company practice safety, others will take notice, and morale will increase. Be careful – people are watching you! This is the easiest way to prevent work injuries in any setting.
- Assess Workplace Safety Hazards: Workplaces and job sites should be reviewed on a weekly basis for safety hazards. Common things to review should include entry ways, common areas, and unauthorized modification of safety equipment such as guards on machines with moving parts. When reviewing the workplace for safety, it is important to document issues and develop a plan to fix or remedy the issue. This requires immediate action. An emphasis should also include spills from being cleaned up, even if it means a delay in production efforts.
- Incorporate a Safety Message at Meetings and Newsletters: Safety is reinforced by constant messaging. It should be standard procedure to dedicate a portion of every department, or company meeting to safety. This is also something that should be included in newsletters. These forms of communication can also highlight units that do not have work injuries, or employees who have recognized an issue, and reported it.
- Ensure all Employees Know How to Report a Work Injury: Employees are typically provided with information on how to report a work injury at the time of hire. The issue is then never discussed. Interested stakeholders should provide ongoing training on how to report a work injury on a regular basis. This is also something that should be included in annual safety training – and should go beyond filling out a First Report of Injury. Additional information to provide should include the name and contact information of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, flowcharts regarding the workers’ compensation claims process (including information on how to dispute the denial of a claim), and direction on where an employee can receive medical care following a work injury. Attention to detail should be emphasized.
- Provide Access to First Aid Equipment and Training: It is important to have basic first aid kits accessible around the workplace, and job sites. These kits should be checked on a monthly basis, and resupplied as needed. It is important to going beyond making these kits available. All employee should be trained in basic first aid, and how to contact emergency personnel following incidents that require something more than a bandage. Employers should also consider subscribing to triage nurse services. A triage nurse is someone with formal medical training who can be reached via telephone following an injury to direct medical care, and make suggestions on additional medical care. It may also be worth the time to subscribe to designated medical clinics that specialize in treating more advanced work injuries.
- Develop and Implement a Return to Work Program: An effective return to work program is one of the most effective tools to reducing workers’ compensation costs. Under this program, the employer will designate a specific person who is responsible for getting injured employees back to work. They should be in constant communication with the employee, treating doctors, and members of the claim management team. They should also have the ability to come up with creative ideas that include the employee’s ability and transferable job skills.
- Consider Empathy: Empathy needs to be a part of every workers’ compensation program. All person’s who interact with an injured employee should avoid accusatory questions or attitudes. Trust can also be gained by sending a “get better soon” card, or making weekly check-in calls. This action takes little effort, and pays huge dividends.
Goodbye 2020 – hello 2021. Use the new year to consider the above changes to your workers’ compensation program. May your new year be filled with peace, safety, and lower workers’ compensation costs.
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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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