Every company wants to provide a safe and health workplace. Doing so helps reduce workers’ compensation claims and improve overall company success. A workforce that feels safe on the job tends to be a more reliable, empowered and cared for. How can your business make progress toward eliminating the need for workers’ compensation claims?
It Starts With Safety
Having an effective assessment of workplace hazards is the first key step to developing control strategies. Those strategies include: providing comprehensive on-going safety training, keeping employees informed, educated and focused on prevention; and continual assessment of administrative and engineering controls. The type, quality and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) is another important component of a workplace safety program. Workplace health and safety should be promoted by top-tier positions – who must also fully and consistently communicate safety program expectations and goals.
Structure a Maintenance Reporting System
Don’t let workers use faulty, damaged equipment. Ensure that all employees know how to immediately report any machinery or safety equipment that needs service or repair. That equipment should be taken out of service until approved for operation. Instruct supervisors to regularly assess the area’s overall working conditions. Management’s responsibility is to ensure no inherent or reasonably evident risks exist which could potentially harm employees and that includes regular upkeep of all work-related equipment, buildings and tools.
Ensure New Hires Can Complete Job Requirements
Overexertion costs U.S. businesses $12.75 billion annually and is the main cause of all claims, according to a 2012 study by Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. While you cannot ask specific questions about a job candidate’s medical history, you can fully outline the lifting requirements associated with the position for which they have applied. Develop job descriptions that include physical demands and any specific physical fitness requirements. More than that, fit the task to the person rather than trying to fit the person to the task. Key to this is assessing employee fitness and correctly managing ergonomic demands.
Guard Against Fraud
Workers’ compensation fraud can hurt businesses and is a serious crime. Hiring honest workers is essential to avoid the cost of a fraudulent claim. After obtaining written consent from a job applicant, follow through with a complete background check. Call each previous employer and ask pertinent questions as to how their employee handled safety on the job. While you cannot ask job applicants outright if they filed workers’ compensation claims in the past, you can unearth this information through a background check and pay attention to applicants with questionable histories. You can also ask general questions regarding their work attendance habits.
Extend a Conditional Job Offer
Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, potential employers can only inquire about medical limitations and disabilities after extending a job offer. Communicate to the candidate that his or her employment is dependent upon successful completion of a medical assessment. Companies must follow the same procedure for every applicant to ensure fairness. However, if candidates’ test results show they pose a risk of harm to themselves or others, you may withdraw the job offer.
Educate and Assist Current Employees
Your current staff should know the steps to take if they must file a workers’ compensation claim. Make sure all injured workers receive prompt, competent medical attention. Using an early-return-to-work program, implement a personalized recovery program for injured workers so they can return to work while adhering to their physical limitations. It is in a business’s best interests to fully assist workers in their claims, as first-hand knowledge of all facts associated with the employee’s injury can help companies identify any fraud warning signs.
Consult with an experienced health and safety specialist for individual advice on the challenges facing your business and more information on how to prevent workers’ compensation claims.