3 Ways to Reduce Workers Compensation Claims
Reducing workers compensation claims may seem like a complex, frustrating problem – and in many ways it can be. However, in my 20+ years of managing workers compensation claims and vocational claims consulting, I’ve seen the following three things make a dramatic impact when it comes to reducing workers compensation claims costs.
Reducing Worker Compensation Claims
1. Have A Plan
Be prepared! Have a plan in place that addresses a workplace injury in the event one occurs. How will we address our workload in the event of an injured worker? Are there tasks within our company that can be modified for the injured worker, or assistive equipment they can use? Are we affiliated with an organization that can assist us? Who will remain in communication with our employee who was injured?
One of the biggest differentiators affecting the cost of a workers compensation claim is the length of absence from work. Having a plan in place prior to an injury greatly reduces an employees absence, reducing the overall cost of a workers compensation claim and more importantly ensures that your greatest asset (employees) are well taken care of.
2. Communication Is Key
Communication between an injured employee and their employer can be the difference between whether an injured worker returns to their job in a timely manner or whether they return at all. On the surface, it appears to be subjective, but data shows a very different outcome for injured employees who maintain a positive communication with their employers.
Unfortunately, an employer often loses sight of the value their employee holds after an injury occurs. The perspective on an injured worker is often negative and on that of their financial strain due to increased premiums and a lack of productivity. However, on average the loss of an employee due to injury costs an employer 1.5 x the annual salary of the injured employee. When the hard and soft costs are explained in a way the employer understands, there is typically a shift in focus.
Don’t leave communication up to other employees, friends, or attorneys. Stay connected with injured employees so they know that someone cares about them. Work is a community where most of us spend 70% of our lives – injured workers need to continue to feel connected to the organization and motivated to return to work. Our employees are our greatest asset, and our nation is currently facing a big challenge with a shortage of skilled employees to fill vacancies – it is much easier to keep a valuable, skilled employee than it is to recruit and train another.
3. Accommodate Injured Employees
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 and by following closely all established post-injury procedures. Doing so will ensure that injured workers get back on the job promptly, saving money and maintaining productivity.
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. Utilize the Federal and State programs available that reimburse an employer for the costs of the equipment needed to accommodate your injured employee. Every employee has value and knowledge; do not forsake a skill set based on a physical restriction.
If you really want to reduce workers compensation claims, you need to have a plan in place that acts as a playbook for when an injury occurs. Secondly, communication is key – stay connected with injured employees so they know that someone cares about them. Finally, accommodate your injured employees with modified duty.Whether it’s a change in hours or the use of a piece of equipment accommodating an injured employee, keep your employee and their skill set at work where it’s valuable.
It is possible to proactively manage workers compensation claims, providing benefit to all the parties involved. Employers need employees, and employees need employers. By applying the 3 areas of focus detailed above, we can drastically reduce costs associated with an industrial injury, reducing workers compensation claims and keeping our valued employees at work.