Protecting Your Workers is Invaluable
Tips on How to Reduce Worker’s Compensation Claims Through Job-Site Safety
As a contractor, your job is more prone to accidents and injuries than most professions. In fact, in 2015, there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the private sector—that’s a rate of 3 cases for every 100 employees.
Worker’s compensation is a legal requirement in most states—and it’s a good requirement to have. The nature of your work often requires time spent in harsh or demanding conditions and work with harmful materials / equipment. Having worker’s compensation insurance protects your business and employees should accidents occur.
Rather than investing in the most inexpensive worker’s compensation insurance you can find, consider these tips to help reduce the number of claims upfront and improve the claims closure process.
Develop a Safety Plan to Minimize Your Risks
One of the best ways you can reduce the likelihood of injury or illness in the workplace is to develop a health and safety plan that directly addresses your immediate risks. Investing in the right protective equipment and safety procedures can go a long way. Research finds that every dollar invested in injury prevention results in a $2-6 return for businesses. Not to mention, there is also a return for making sure employees are able to show up for work each day and not miss due to illness or injury recovery.
Needless to say, having a proactive safety plan in place to prevent injuries and illnesses is invaluable to your business. Below are a handful of some of the most important safety tips by industry to consider:
- Provide and require protective equipment for electricians, including rubber or insulated gloves, goggles and face masks when working closely to live electrical wiring.
- Disconnect the power source before working on any electrical equipment, even if it appears to be down.
- Inspect all electrical cords, outlets and equipment for damage before commencing work.
- Require employees to leave all fluids, including water and other beverages, away from the worksite.
- Do not try to remove or operate near fallen overhead power lines by yourself. Instead, contact your staff for assistance, a larger electric utility company or the fire department.
- Turn off the circuit box power before beginning any maintenance.
- Provide and require all employees to wear protective gear during servicing, including insulated gloves, goggles, face masks, and other protective clothing.
- Require an additional staff member to attend servicing jobs in which one will be working from extreme heights.
- Require all staff to bring a leak detector technology on any servicing job to detect dangerous materials, including carbon monoxide and more.
- Require education and training on common dangerous chemicals that your staff will likely come into contact with while on the job. This, in turn, can prevent contact with these materials.
- Provide and require protective gear during servicing for your employees, including gloves, goggles, face masks or respirators, earplugs and more.
- Require employees to always bring a ventilator in the case of mold-infested areas, which are common in plumbing servicing jobs.
- Turn off the gas line before working along piping, whether indoors or outdoors.
- Require employees to practice safe hygiene, including washing of their hands, regularly washing their protective gear and more to prevent mold build-up, and illness.
Learn How to Effectively Manage Your Claims
To manage your worker’s compensation claims, become familiar with your business' claims history. You should be able to identify which incidents are most common, what is the average worker’s compensation claim worth, and whether or not there are individuals in your business abusing the system.
To start, make sure you close claims as quickly as possible. The longer a worker’s comp claim is open, the more expensive it can become. To help close claims quickly, consider implementing a return-to-work program. These programs create a benefit for workers who return to work as quickly as possible following their injury or illness.
To help create cost control of your claims, you should accurately measure the data and costs of claims. These factors can help you identify poor performance and employees lacking good safety precautions. It may also help you identify any employees who are filing suits often. Keep an eye on these employees, as they can quickly become liabilities. If you’ve identified someone abusing workers comp, determine the best (and legal) course of action.
Finally, when an accident does occur, you should be as active in the process as possible. Take photos and complete incident reports with as much detail as possible. Talk to witnesses, if any, and promptly send injury / incident reports within 24 hours to your insurance provider.
Consider a Professional Employer Organization
Professional employer organizations (PEO) can help you easily manage and keep track of your workers’ compensation claims. A PEO is an ideal solution for contractors or small businesses who do not have their own human resources staff to address these issues when they occur.
PEOs serve many purposes, but are mainly designed to:
- Help decide on a workers’ compensation plan and negotiate with programs to receive the best plan for your business.
- Help identify safety risks and vulnerabilities in the workplace.
- Help close claims quickly.
- Help manage relationships with injured employees and other human resources needs.
To regain control of your worker’s comp claims, be sure to invest the proper resources and time into education and training for your employees. When incidents do occur, be proactive in the resolution with consistent communication, measurement and follow-up.
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