You can significantly reduce the cost of your organization’s workers’ compensation premiums by following a program of accident prevention, better claimsand prevention of fraud and abuse.
Specifically, you should:
1. Investigate all accidents. You can’t design an accident prevention program unless you know the source of the accidents, what types of accidents most frequently occur and which ones are the most severe. Keep records on all accidents, not only the ones resulting in claims. (Your OSHA records are the place to start.)
2. Have an accident prevention program. Many states offer free consultations with safety and health specialists who will come to your business to design accident prevention programs. Some states hold free workshops throughout the year to advise employers on how to avoid workplace injuries and occupational diseases. West Virginia alone conducts more than 1,000 workshops a year.
3. Report accidents promptly. The sooner you file an accident report, the sooner your employee will be evaluated, treated and returned to work. Delays in employer reporting result in employees contacting lawyers and litigating claims. Employers usually have 10 days to file an accident report.
4. Stay in touch with the injured worker and the doctor. Follow the progress of the worker’s recovery. This will help you design an appropriate return-to-work program.
5. Follow the progress of a worker’s claim. Doing so will help you detect errors, fraud and abuse.
6. Use return-to-work/light-duty programs. These are one of the most effective ways to reduce your workers’ compensation costs. If a worker is too severely injured to return to regular work, make sure you have transitional or light-duty alternatives available. (However, note the caution in "Myth 3" below.)
7. Know your insurance system. Are you in the lowest rate classification for your type of business? The classification should be based on your principal line of business, not on a particularly hazardous job. Shop for the best rate; in Illinois, for example, more than 300 carriers compete for employers’ business.
5 myths about bringing back injured workers
Misconceptions about how to handle employees who return to work from injuries can hurt your productivity and actually add to workers’ comp costs. Here are five common myths:
Myth 1: Employees must be 100% recovered before returning to work.
Truth: Employees can return before they’re up to full speed. Their performance will improve incrementally.
Myth 2: Returning employees are likely to re-injure themselves and then apply for workers’ comp.
Truth: No research supports this belief.
Myth 3: Light duty works best for returning employees.
Truth: Significantly reduced workloads can actually encourage low productivity. If the employee can perform the full job, let him or her jump right in.
Myth 4: Most injured employees want to remain off the job as long as possible.
Truth: Only a small percentage of injured employees avoid returning. If they are, it may be out of fear of how they’ll perform.
Myth 5: Doctors decide when injured employees return to work based on their knowledge of job duties.
Truth: Physicians typically don’t have the information they need. You should communicate with doctors about the job’s physical requirements.
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