Prevent Workers’ Compensation Costs through Safety

Don't stress, just find out what has been causing workers' compensation claims to prevent new ones

Prevention Begins By Reviewing Injury Reports

Employers can do a lot to save money on workers’ compensation by preventing work-related injuries, illness and deaths in the first place.

I know this from the perspective of a writer whose career began more than 20 years ago writing about occupational safety and health for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC). What I know I learned from the pros.

The surest way to success means converting the CEO to the cause of workers’ compensation and safety. I covered ways to do this in my blog, Converting the CEO to the Cause of Workers’ Compensation.

Whether beginning an organization’s first safety program, or re-evaluating one that already exists, you need to identify safety challenges and prioritize them.

Taking a hard look at past losses is a good place to start.

Determine the causes of injuries and occupational illnesses by combing through the first reports of injury. Of course, focus on those that resulted in workers’ compensation claims. You might find out they are incomplete. This may well be your first action step to improve your workers’ compensation program.

Also, consider reviewing incidents that did not result in a workers’ compensation claim. For example, I slipped and fell once at BWC’s cafeteria during my lunch break. I was asked to fill out the report, which hopefully reminded management to make sure the floors are clean and safe for workers and customers alike.

Incident reports include a lot of information to review. An easy way to cut the wheat from the chaff is to focus on the largest number of losses by location and/or department.

You could find out that some supervisors make safety a higher priority than others. Consider having your IT department track the on-shift supervisor at the time of accident. While waiting on IT, keep copies of accident reports in the file of the on-shift supervisor at time of accident. This will enable management to determine the supervisor’s commitment to safety, which could be reflected in bonuses, pay increases and promotions. It could also ensure that accidents are recorded as completely as possible. (For more on the supervisor’s role, please click here.)

You could find out that some supervisors
make safety a higher priority than others.

As you review the first reports of injury, make a list of the causes of injuries and illnesses for each report.

Then identify the top five causes by frequency and begin to address those directly with the goal of addressing the rest of them. Neglected housekeeping, for example, could mean items are not put away correctly. Other causes can include inappropriate posture or body use, environmental issues, equipment and tool maintenance use of personal protective equipment or repetitive motion. Be specific.

Be cognizant of how you reflect injury severity. In workers comp, we use the word “severity” to reflect the duration of a claim. I always found this problematic because it is not necessarily related to the injury’s severity. This is an important distinction because the length of a claim can have more to do with filing lag times, immediacy and quality of medical care, claims administration, the employee/supervisor relationship and return-to-work than the actual severity of the injury or occupational illness.

To maintain momentum, determine a regular basis to track progress and identify new challenges. Common time periods are monthly, quarterly or biannually; depending on how often claims are filed.

For more on workers’ compensation, please click on the workers’ compensation section on the right hand column.

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