Take a look around your company. Chances are, your workplace has changed in the past 10 years. Your workforce has changed as well. Regardless of industry, the U.S. workforce is aging. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that 25 percent of the workforce will be age 55 or older by 2020. This aging workforce brings with it the potential for escalating workers’ compensation costs, particularly since older employees typically experience more severe workplace injuries and illnesses than younger ones.
One of the most effective ways to reduce these costs is through a commitment to workplace safety. A commitment to safety is the key to a successful workers’ compensation process and cost containment. A successful process creates a better work environment and improves productivity. A commitment to workplace safety makes your company an attractive place to work, helping you retain employees and reduce employee turnover.
Below are some workers’ compensation mitigation strategies that you should keep top of mind during the time of hire, during day-to-day operations, and when an injury occurs in the workplace.
Make every effort to ascertain that new or potential hires are physically capable of handling the requirements of the job. A job interview provides an opportunity to gauge a potential employee’s safety commitment. Including a section on your company’s safety policies and procedures in employee orientation reinforces your safety culture from day one.
A new or potential hire should be mentally capable of understanding and consistently applying safety training, procedures, and protocols. Companies with safety in their DNA want to make sure they hire employees with the same mindset.
Understand that age, obesity, and co-morbidities will generally result in more time and treatment for injured workers to return to full duty after an accident. A more extensive transitional duty program may be necessary to mitigate off-duty status.
Build a safety culture. A safety-focused work culture attracts safety-minded employees. With a strong safety culture, both management and employees are engaged in the process and share responsibility for accident prevention and effective injury management.
Encourage collaboration and communication to promote safety as the priority. When collaboration and communication are encouraged, employees feel comfortable voicing their suggestions and concerns and may be involved in developing and revising safety procedures. If an accident happens, everyone knows what to do and how to report the incident.
Treat “near misses” as accidents. Conduct defect check processes and root cause analyses, and develop the best safety solutions for operational activities. Share knowledge. In states where it is permitted, inform injured workers and managers about which occupational medical providers in the area are available to treat work-related injuries.
When an Injury Occurs
Contact the insurance company as soon as possible after an occurrence. Prompt reporting assures that the necessary medical attention is provided and a return-to-work process is put into place. Claims reported to the carrier within three days of injury cost up to 20 percent less than claims reported outside that time frame.
Conduct a thorough investigation to determine what caused the accident and make workplace adjustments to prevent similar accidents. Carriers may need your support in validating the accident or to pursue subrogation against a third party. Don’t wait to complete this step before reporting to the carrier.
Maintain regular contact with the injured employee throughout the course of recovery. Management should accompany the injured worker for treatment and should make sure that the medical provider is aware of the availability of transitional or modified duty when the injured worker is capable of performing that duty safely.
For more information, please contact your local independent agent or visit www.cna.com.
This information is presented for illustrative purposes only and has been developed from sources believed to be reliable. CNA accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information. CNA is a registered trademark of CNA Financial Corporation. Copyright © 2014 CNA. All rights reserved. Used with permission.