Controlling workers’ compensation costs begins at the top. Employers should treat workers’ compensation costs as a controllable expense that is managed with prevention, education, and a concrete action plan — both before and after accidents occur.
HNI Senior Claims Consultant
Follow these nine commandments for controlling workers’ compensation costs, and thou shall be pleased:
1.) Thou shall make smart hiring decisions.
Well-qualified, quality employees reduce the potential for injuries.
2.) Thou shall focus on training and education.
Proper job training will help ensure safe work habits. Accomplish your training goals with regular safety training sessions, meetings, and other workplace communications. Above all, training efforts should convey the importance of workplace safety. In addition, educating supervisors and managers is equally important; investing a few dollars in management training could help you control work comp costs to the tune of millions of dollars (in a worst-case scenario).
3.) Thou shall communicate with injured employees.
Don’t leave communication up to other employees, friends, or attorneys. Rather, stay connected with injured employees so they know that someone cares about them. Injured workers need to continue to feel connected to the organization and motivated to return to work.
4.) Thy managers shall commit to safety.
Set safety goals and communicate them from the top down. Management must be active and visible in all safety-related programs and activities, and goals for safety and injury management should be built into the fabric of your organization.
5.) Thou shall maintain formality.
This means writing down the rules — not relying on "common sense" or something else subjective or ambiguous. Formal implementation and communication of safety rules, as well as having established consequences for not following, them help employees understand that management is committed to safety. Plans should include procedures for a formal corrective action process, as well as injury action plans that encompass the moment of injury through return to work. Individual roles and responsibilities should be defined so that each party knows how to respond as incidents occur. Include recognition of success into your formal safety program, too. Provide incentives for reaching safety goals and emphasize positive outcomes to reinforce good behavior.
6.) Thou shall report injuries promptly.
Immediate reporting of injuries helps with speedy payment of bills and lost wages. Reports should be filed as soon as managers or supervisors become aware of an incident.
7.) Thou shall investigate incidents thoroughly and take corrective action.
The only way to prevent future injuries is to thoroughly root out the causes of the ones that do occur and to take steps to prevent them.
8.) Thou shall reduce lost time and accommodate injured workers.
While you cannot prevent all injuries, you can work to reduce the real workers’ compensation cost drivers: severity and length of absence. Get injured workers back to work quickly by maintaining ongoing communication. Following closely all established post-injury procedures will ensure that injured workers get back on the job promptly. Use modified duty as a bridge to get workers back to full employment. Modified duty keeps workers active and part of the team by focusing on what they can do rather than on what they cannot do.
9.) Thou shall establish a relationship with a medical provider who understands work-related injuries.
You need not partner with the least-expensive provider. Rather, you should partner with the most qualified doctors who specialize in occupational medicine to ensure that workers do not remain out of work longer than necessary. Your goal should be controlling workers’ compensation costs by fostering speedy active recovery among injured workers.