The types of jobs that people perform are almost as varied as are the workers themselves. Some are rigid and repetitive; others rely on the employee’s creativity. Some require a person to build, while others involve demolition. However, regardless of what specific tasks might be asked of an employee, there is always the chance that he or she might be hurt during the course of accomplishing them. Workers’ compensation insurance, first started in Europe, is designed to provide compensation for lost wages that are a direct result of the accident. If injuries or disabilities are permanent, this type of insurance also gives compensation for their impairments. In exchange for not being required to prove that the employer was negligent or otherwise legally at fault, the worker gives up the potential to sue for pain-and-suffering awards.
Workers’ compensation, therefore, is beneficial to both the employer and the employee. Nevertheless, purchasing it for workers can be a costly proposition. Take some time to look into three of the best ways to trim down your workers’ compensation insurance budget, while continuing to offer the benefits you and your workers deserve.
Implement a Workplace Safety Program
You might be thinking that this is an excellent idea, while simultaneously wondering how it is a relevant money-saving strategy. Before you dismiss it entirely, think about all of the indirect costs you incur when one of your employees is injured on the job. Since he can’t perform his duties for a specific period of time, you need to hire a temporary replacement. Everyone’s scheduled hours might need to be juggled to pick up the slack. Your productivity levels might fall. Maybe the accident also involved damage to property that now needs immediate repairs. In light of the increased pressures everyone is experiencing post-accident, you may also be seeing an increase in absenteeism and a dip in staff morale.
That’s why it is so important to get your safety program started as soon as possible, ideally before any accidents can happen. Take proactive measures to pinpoint and eradicate hazards in your workplace wherever possible. Next, don’t just commit your plan to memory; put it in writing. Doing so automatically makes you and your staff accountable. Furthermore, having the ability to carefully examine all facets of your plan opens the door to important questions and enables you to see holes in your policies. Only then can you begin to strategize ways to reach the solutions that will keep your space as safe as possible. If creating comprehensive documents isn’t your strong point, there are several resources that can help:
- Hire an independent workplace safety consultant at the rate of around $100 per hour.
- Download an industry-specific workplace safety template that you and your staff can run with at a modest cost, usually about $100 to $150.
- Ask your Workers’ Compensation insurance company if they provide any consulting services. Often, these are at no charge.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers an on-site consultation program that is both free and confidential. But be warned: if OSHA makes recommendations, it is not wise to ignore them.
Even the most thorough of safety programs is useless if it is not put into action. After you develop yours, be sure to get the support of upper management. Then train everyone, practice regularly and remain open to suggestions for improvement. After all, even the best idea can always be made better.
Properly Document All Workers’ Compensation Claims
No matter how hard you try, accidents still happen. When they do, it is incumbent on you to document the compensation insurance claim in the correct way. Doing so will reduce the chances of second-guessing or contesting. Obtain comprehensive complete written, recorded or oral statements of all the facts in the case, including input from witnesses. Obtain all medical records that confirm or deny the stipulations, relevant past records and independent exams. Get information from medical case managers, first responders and other professionals. Include personnel records and documentation of any past claims. Search social media and document all relevant phone conversations. Take pictures of the accident site. Include all relevant contracts and training protocols. Use professional experts and technical advisers if needed.
Set Up a Return to Work Program
Studies show that an employee’s workers’ compensation claim gets more expensive the longer it takes for her to get back to work after her accident. This is partly because the worker will need to be compensated for a higher amount of replacement income. Therefore, it should be your goal to get your employee back to work as quickly as possible. This may mean changing the employee’s job duties in the beginning as her medical situation dictates. You might also allow her to come in part-time until she is fully recovered. Putting a good return-to-work program in place will also give indirect benefits by boosting staff morale when their injured colleague returns. It can also help your employee to remain emotionally connected to her colleagues and may reduce the chance of her never coming back to work at all.
Join a Professional Employer Organization (PEO)
It is vital that you endow your workplace with a “culture of safety.” Joining a PEO can go a long way toward helping you to do that. A PEO can be instrumental in managing any workers’ compensation claims that arise, while assisting you in making your workplace safe. If you join a PEO, you can get the following benefits:
- Can negotiate with insurers to provide the lowest-cost workers’ compensation benefits to fit your needs
- Can evaluate the safety of your workplace and make recommendations for improvement
- Can efficiently resolve employee claims
- Can implement a return-to-work program
- Can manage interactions with workers who have been injured on the job.
Purchasing workers’ compensation insurance is a fact of life in today’s employment world, but paying through the roof for it doesn’t need to be. By making your workplace safe, instituting a program that will get your worker back on the job as soon as it is safely possible and joining a PEO, many of the financial strains of this type of insurance can be minimized. It is definitely in your best interest to put these strategies in place.