How to Make Workers' Compensation Work for You

By Haley Bass | 05/17/2017

Making sure your workforce is covered in case of a work-related injury is important for all businesses, no matter the size. After learning your state’s workers’ compensation requirements and researching insurance and injury care options, it’s time for the last (but not least) essential step: planning how to prevent accidents, and what to do if an employee gets injured.

Develop a Safety Program

While it’s important to have a plan for injuries – because accidents aren’t planned – it’s even more important to plan for injury prevention. The best way to prevent injuries is by developing a safety program.

Some states require employers to have an official safety plan, whether it’s getting accident prevention services from your insurer or setting up a safety committee at work. Even if it’s not required, having a safety committee, program, or at least a plan is beneficial to your employees – and your bottom line.

Although there are unique aspects you’ll need to cover for your specific workplace, an effective safety program should generally include:

  • Identifying site-specific hazards and how to handle them
  • Required personal protective equipment
  • Accident and emergency response
  • Demonstrations with equipment and machinery
  • How to handle chemicals and hazardous materials
  • Instructions for workers to identify and report hazards or unsafe practices to a supervisor
  • Informing workers of their OSHA rights

These pieces should be included in the employee handbook, visibly posted in common areas, covered in new-hire orientation, and communicated periodically as enforcement. 

When safety rules are enforced and followed, businesses can reduce the risk of workplace injury, and even earn discounts on premiums. Some states have merit rating credits for small businesses that have no lost-work-time claims during a designated period. Ask your insurer if they offer premium credits or discounts for companies that offer drug- and alcohol-free workplace programs or safety programs.

Have an Injury Care Plan

No matter how effective your safety program is, one wrong step is all it takes for an accident to happen. While you can’t completely avoid workplace injuries, you can keep your employees safe with a plan to get them treatment quickly.

The faster you begin the workers’ compensation process, the faster you can get your injured employee back to work. Develop an injury care plan before an accident takes place, then make sure it’s communicated thoroughly with your workforce. If everyone knows what to do in case of an injury, employees can act and start the process rather than hesitate or turn to litigation.

Here’s an example of a workers’ compensation procedure:

What do I do if I get hurt when working?

  1. Contact your supervisor as soon as you experience an accident or know about an injury
  2. Complete an employee claim form, available from your supervisor or safety/HR personnel
  3. Undergo a medical evaluation by a doctor
  4. Take an active role in your recovery and complete your treatment plan
  5. Follow the specific workers’ compensation steps as identified by your state’s workers’ compensation board

Take time to walk employees through this process, provide materials for them to keep (maybe a wallet-size card to keep on them while working), and have the steps posted in prominent sites at the workplace. Openly communicating about workers’ compensation, rather than making it a taboo topic, shows your employees that you’re on their side and only desire to keep them safe.

Let’s review the steps:

  1. Know your state’s workers’ compensation requirements
  2. Get the necessary workers’ comp insurance
  3. Partner with an occupational medicine provider
  4. Develop a safety program
  5. Create an injury care plan – then communicate it with your employees

Have you followed all five steps yet? If you’re stuck on one, or want more information, talk to one of Concentra’s workforce health experts. We’d love to make sure your workforce is safe and help you feel confident in your workers’ compensation plan.