How to Plan for a Workplace Injury-Free Year

By Haley Bass | 01/25/2017

No one wants to plan for an employee injury, but through proactive measures you can help to contain your costs and the impact of workers’ compensation claims. By understanding the specific dangers of your workplace and the potential injuries that each worker faces, you can take action to reduce the risk of a work-related injury.

Work health experts know the most effective ways to prevent workplace injuries and manage the high costs associated with workers’ compensation claims. Here are some steps you can take this year to help you plan for an effective workers’ compensation program.

Embrace a Culture of Safety

When employees are well-trained on how to follow safe practices, the risk for an on-the-job injury decreases. OSHA found that training employees on safety standards can reduce the risk of workplace injury and illness by up to 60%.

Beyond training, it’s becoming more essential to make safety a significant aspect of company culture. But it needs to start from the top-down. Employers, managers, and supervisors should take an active role in safety training for employees, including consistently checking equipment and protective gear, and maintaining accountability among the workforce.

And safety training shouldn’t just include new employees. Be sure all employees are involved so that safety doesn’t seem like a task to get out of the way and meet minimal requirements. If you don’t go the extra mile, you can’t expect your workers to do so and that’s when injuries happen. By making safety part of the culture, employees see how important it is and will embrace the high standards as well.

Partner with an Occupational Medicine Provider

Occupational medicine providers are experts in work health, so they understand that each claim is unique to your industry, worksite, and job function, and should be treated as such. Providers will partner with you, your employee, and the payor to make the workers’ compensation process run smoother and treat the injured employee as soon as possible. 

Partnering with an occupational medicine provider can also save you money. Sending your employee to an occupational medicine clinic after an injury not only costs less than a visit to the emergency room, it reduces the indirect costs of the claim by helping to place the employee in an advanced return-to-work plan. A partnership with a provider can also work with you to help create injury prevention programs in addition to treating them.

Emphasize the Importance of Returning to Work

The longer an injured employee is absent from work, the less likely they are to return.1 According to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, having a return-to-work program in place reduces the length of an injured employee’s absence by an average of 3.6 weeks.

While most employers understand the need to treat a physical injury, the mental and emotional impact of a work-related accident can often go unnoticed. Injured employees tend to fear getting hurt again and this anxiety can hinder their recovery process.

A good treatment provider will consider the injured worker’s mental and emotional state as well as their physical condition. Along with the treatment process, the provider should work with the employer to develop a return-to-work plan. This can include modified job responsibilities or reduced hours as the worker continues toward full recovery. When an injured employee feels like their employer is supportive, they can perform meaningful work during recovery, and likely return to work more quickly.

Utilize Technology Platforms

We already rely on technology to solve problems at the tap of a button, so it’s a natural transition to use technology platforms for healthcare.

One quick method for an injured worker to receive care is through injury triage hotlines. These phone lines are typically open 24/7 and can help diagnose a problem and guide workers to the next step, whether it’s the emergency room or a follow-up appointment with a physician the next day. This tool provides quick, convenient care that can prevent more serious problems down the road.

A growing trend in the healthcare industry is telemedicine. This service provides employees with virtual access to medical care by connecting them to a physician via computers, kiosks, or smart mobile devices. Telemedicine is a great option for employees who work after-hours or in more rural areas, improving access for injured workers to see a physician quickly and start treatment early.

 

Before the new year gets away from you, consider the positive impact of including these methods in your workers’ compensation plan. Take these proactive steps to reduce the overall costs from workers’ compensation claims and enjoy higher productivity from your workforce.

 

Resources:
[1] https://www.dol.gov/asp/evaluation/completed-studies/Addressing_Return_to_Work_Issues/ISSUE_BRIEF_addressing_return_to_work_issues.pdf
http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/11/01/2017-workers-compensation-trends?page_all=1