New Hire Checklist: Everything You Need to Know About New Employees and Workers’ Compensation

Haley Bass

Every 15 seconds, 153 workers have a work-related accident, adding up to 317 million workplace injuries every year. New employees are the most vulnerable to accidents. Without proper training and communication, a new employee may handle machinery incorrectly, not use the correct protective gear, or not know what to do when an injury occurs.

To complete your new hire checklist and prevent these potential disasters, here’s what you need to know about new employees and workers’ compensation.

Start Communicating Early

According to research from the Institute for Work & Health, employees in their first month on the job have more than three times the risk for a lost-time injury than workers who have been at their job for more than a year. The more you're at risk for an injury, the higher the risk of a lawsuit. Lockton, an insurance brokerage firm, found that 44% of all lost-time workers’ compensation claims had an attorney involved.

This is not an ideal situation. If you’re providing workers’ compensation insurance, the hope is to avoid litigation. However, if a new employee doesn’t know how your company handles workplace injury claims, they might feel that the only way they can get care is to reach out to an attorney rather than their employer.

To prevent this, include preparation for what to do in the event of an injury in new employee onboarding and orientation. By starting the communication early in your relationship, you help diffuse the “us versus them” mentality, and present the company as an ally.

Education should include:

  • What steps to take when an injury occurs
  • What is covered under your insurance
  • The role and responsibilities of the employee, the employer, and the insurance provider
  • The company’s return-to-work and/or transitional work policies

Good communication from the beginning can reduce the risk for animosity or litigation and help develop a collaborative approach to injury care.

Invest in Safety Training

The Institute for Work & Health found that only 1 in 5 new employees receive safety training, which might be one of the reasons for the high-rates of new worker injuries. Even if it takes more time out of your work schedule, the benefits of thorough safety training far outweigh the negatives. “If you don’t invest in safety, then you’re throwing a lot of money out the door,” said Duane R. Grange, safety and HR director of Selectemp Employment Services.

Beyond having safety tips and reminders placed prominently throughout the office, holding safety training for new employees is essential for reducing risk of workplace injury and protecting employee health. Information should be compiled by human resources and/or safety directors, with input from experienced workers.

An effective safety training should 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
  • Encouraging workers to identify and report hazards or unsafe practices to a supervisor
  • Informing workers of their OSHA rights

You should also include anything else specific to your workplace. While this list is essential for new employees, it would be valuable to hold refreshers for veteran employees as well.

Remember: Part-time Employees Are Eligible for Workers’ Compensation

Part-time and seasonal employees are eligible for workers’ compensation, even if they don’t receive health care from the employer. And although part-time employees have the benefit of being exposed to safety hazards for fewer hours than full-time employees, they also typically receive less safety and job training.

If a part-time employee is just as susceptible to workplace injury as a full-time employee, and just as able to file a workers’ comp claim, they should receive the same level of safety training.

There also might be cases where a part-time employee who doesn’t receive health insurance uses the workers’ comp system for primary health care, either by working carelessly or filing fraudulent claims. Employers should provide support by offering information to help these employees get health insurance.

Keep your new employees safe and informed for a healthy working environment. Talk to a Concentra occupational medicine expert today to discuss how we can help you find the right workers’ compensation injury care solutions for your business. 

New workers, higher risk. Safety+Health. May 22, 2016.  
Trend of cutting benefits for part-time workers may add to workers comp costs. Business Insurance. October 12, 2014.