Nearly all business owners are in business for one primary reason – to make money.  But the motivation to just make money can be costly later.  One way this is particularly true is with their Workers’ Compensation (WC) policy.  When business owners have a cavalier approach to managing their employees, mistakes will happen more often.  However, when the owners develop a safety mindset, they can help prevent WC claims which can drive up their experience modification, costing them a great deal more in WC premium.  The best philosophy is to recognize that your company’s greatest assets are your employees.  Looking out for their wellbeing and their families sets you apart as owners who care enough to push employee safety above profits.  This kind of mindset is appreciated by employees.  Below are some strategies to help your clients learn to be safety minded:

  • Before hiring a new employee, ask them if they have ever filed a WC claim and what happened. Details of the accident are okay to ask; steer away from asking for details on their medical history from the accident for privacy reasons.  Knowing if they have filed WC claims, especially if they were out on leave long enough for a partial wage claim (indemnity), indicates they might be an employee who might file a spurious claim in the future.
  • Ask candidates to explain how employees should practice clear safety standards. Ask for specific ways they have practiced safety in their industry.
  • Practice holding safety meetings with employees. Look up pointers from OSHA or other sites on what to talk about.  Weekly meetings are recommended for the construction industry, sometimes referred to as tailgate reminders.  Talking regularly about being safe gets in their minds and should help them focus on safety.
  • If your business is larger and has WC claims, frequency is a big concern when shopping for new WC. One way to help mitigate this is to eliminate employees who are practicing poor safety. 
  • Offer rewards like a free lunch for each quarter the company goes without having a WC claim.
  • Create a “See Something, Say Something” environment so employees are open about calling out someone being unsafe.
  • In your safety meetings, occasionally talk through the dos and don’ts when there is a workplace accident. From applying first aid to not moving the injured worker when doing so might cause more harm, to not waiting to call 911.  Reporting the injury ASAP to the WC carrier is not only necessary, but the carrier can be very helpful in managing the claim.  Be sure to let the injured worker know that you are reporting the WC claim and that they will be hands on with the whole process.
  • Develop a written safety program. Having the program in writing and requiring employees to read it is a good start to developing a good mindset for a safe work environment.
  • Ask the WC carrier if they can send out a loss control professional to speak to your employees on how to avoid workplace accidents. Ask a local trusted chiropractor to come talk to employees about proper techniques for sitting, lifting or doing repetitive motions.
  • For larger companies, hiring a part-time or even full-time loss prevention person makes sense.
  • When owners are directly supervising employees practicing good safety standards, verbally notice them in front of others. This creates an environment that leads to others practicing the same behavior.  Positive reinforcement works for adults too.
  • When careless mistakes are made with no resulting injury to the employee, it is important to still address the matter with importance with the employee.
  • Another strategy to avoid employees who are tempted to try to get on WC paid time off is to develop a Return To Work (RTW) program. This is simply a written program requiring injured employees to return to work once a medical professional approves it, even if for light duty. This discourages fraudulent claims.
  • Consider installing workplace cameras with auto recording. Seeing is believing.  This is not usually feasible in construction which requires more in-person supervision.
  • If employees do any driving for you, be sure you or your agent are checking MVRs. For heavy driving this should be done quarterly.  Remove employees with poor driving records.  As a reminder, if the employee is injured in an auto accident, WC pays first even if the employee was not at fault.  The WC carrier may choose to subrogate the claim against the other carriers, but initially it is a WC claim for the policy holder.
  • Lastly, for employees who keep making poor choices regarding safety, removing them sooner rather than later makes sense to avoid a significant claim.

Disclaimers:  The above explanations are experienced-based opinions.  There are always exceptions.  For further understanding of these aspects of WC send me a request and I will try to point you in the right direction for more official information.