There is no doubt workers’ compensation is a big expense for employers. There are over 4.1 million workplace injuries in the Unites States each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers spend about $155 billion on work-related injuries each year.
A workplace injury can be costly to your business. An injured employee creates a greater workload for other employees, increases workers’ compensation costs, lost workdays, and means additional training, which can all be a drain on your business. There are a few key things you can do to help create and manage a safe work environment.
If an employee is injured on the job, employers are legally liable to the employee. Workers’ compensation will even cover employees who are involved in auto accidents while away from the worksite, if the accident occurred while on the job.
What an Agent Does to Reduce Employers’ Workers’ Comp Costs
The good news is there are many actions an insurance agent can take to help employers reduce their workers’ compensation costs.
On their own, they:
- Search the market for options and program designs that fit the individual needs of each employer
- Analyze all classifications to make sure they are correct
- Help build a bridge between the insurer and business
- Be a resource to the business by bringing in other service providers to solve problems; i.e., attorneys, safety professionals, and third-party claims consultants
- Facilitate a claims review with the insurer to make sure all claims are being processed correctly
In conjunction with you, they:
- Educate employers about how workers’ compensation works
- Work in the development of a safety program
- Help you prepare for the workers’ compensation premium audit
- Provide the framework for an early return to work program
- Help review accidents and claims to determine trends and then create safety solutions
Agents Help You Deal with Legal Issues Related to Workers’ Comp
Agents can also help employers understand how to best manage the legal issues facing workers’ compensation. Here are examples of how your business will need to respond to various statutory and legal issues over the next few years.
- Will the Federal Government takeover workers’ compensation like they did with healthcare? There could be new fines for employers who fail to provide coverage to injured workers.
- How will undocumented workers be treated in the future? Most states do allow for such workers to be covered under workers’ compensation, but will that continue?
- As medical providers merge, it is going to lead to increased costs. Will self-insurance or group plans be more attractive to employers in the future?
Agents Provide Assistance with OSHA Audits
Agents can also help employers when OSHA comes calling, most often with no advanced warning. Typically, an OSHA inspector simply shows up at your firm to conduct an inspection. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your stress and to ensure that your audit goes smoothly. It is always best to think about how your facility would respond to OSHA knocking at the door before it happens.
Here are some items to keep in mind when preparing for a visit from OSHA:
- Have all training documented, including new employee orientation
- Keep your MSDS book in an accessible location, and keep it updated
- Keep and update all injury/illness records
- Document your fall-protection plan for all work above 4 feet
- Ensure your machine guarding is OSHA compliant
- Make sure housekeeping is managed everyday
- Keep all electric panels closed
- Mark any drums clearly with the name of the product and the hazard type
- Make sure all your posting requirements are up to date
- Keep your safety committee meeting minutes up to date and accessible
Other Ways You Can Manage Workers Compensation Performance
It’s great to have an independent agent work with you to help reduce costs and stress associated with workers’ compensation, but there are some steps employers can take themselves.
- Provide training for hazardous work, especially for new or inexperienced workers.
- Go over safety practices and rules, and enforce them
- Document your drug and alcohol rules, and enforce them
- Have monthly safety meetings that review safety issues and related topics
- Require safety equipment to be worn at all times
- Keep work areas clean.
- Where required, wear protective equipment such as goggles, safety glasses, masks, gloves, hair nets, etc. that are appropriate to the task
- Safety equipment such as restraints, pull backs, and two-hand devices are designed for protection, but need to be adjusted for each person
- Never remove machine safety guards
- Develop a system for reporting unsafe practices
- Create accident investigation procedures that focus on prevention and change
We Work for You
As a business owner, you go to great lengths to provide a safe working environment for your employees. Workers’ compensation continues to be a significant cost driver for most employers, and understanding all the factors that can drive your workers' compensation cost can often be complex and time consuming.
We can help you save some time and cut through the complexity. We are Independent Agents, free to choose the best carrier for your insurance needs. We do not work for an insurance company; we work for you. We work on your side when you have a loss, and follow through to see that you get fair, prompt payment and service. Leap / Carpenter / Kemps Insurance Agency represents a carefully selected group of financially strong, reputable insurance companies; therefore, we are able to offer you the best coverage at the most competitive price.