Business owners from all industries know that they have controllable costs and fixed costs. Owners hold on to their financial books with clasped hands and hope for the best outcome when it comes to fixed costs. However, owners can proactively work on getting control over their controllable costs, but it does take an effort. One such controllable cost that business owners can work on is workers’ compensation.
You’ll need to start by understanding that managing your worker compensation expenses won’t involve a one-step solution, but rather a multi-faceted approach to the overall issue.
Begin before the claim is filed. You might have heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure or a stitch in time saves nine, meaning that it’s easier to forestall a problem now than fix the results once it happens. Nothing is truer when it comes to managing and containing controllable costs. If you want to control your workers’ compensation costs, then you must develop a systematic procedure for reporting, monitoring, and correcting workplace behaviors that are considered unsafe. It’s important that these procedures are a priority for all your employees, not just a responsibility held by your management team.
An analysis should be done to determine the potential risks of a given job, such as musculoskeletal issues created by a workstation design being ergonomically incorrect or injuries caused by repetitive stress or movements. Of course, the workers actually performing the job are ideal choices to be directly involved in such an analysis. Do keep in mind that this analysis will only be as effective as the method used to collect the findings. The analysis should be done in a structured setting and at a designated time. It should include your senior management, first-line supervisors, and a set number of representatives from the department staff. The participants should be presented with a problem and given sufficient time to brainstorm for potential solutions to the problem. At the conclusion of the meeting, the staff should be told when they will be notified of what and when the chosen solution(s) will be implemented. In the meantime, you can use feasibility studies to help you determine which solutions will be most workable and practical for your business. In order to ensure that quality improvements are continuous and have the greatest impact on your workers’ compensation numbers, these brainstorming meetings will need to be a regularly ongoing practice.
New employees should undergo safety training and existing employees should undergo refresher safety training. Some employers tend to skimp on refresher training, but just keep in mind that it’s often the seasoned workers that have performed the same job over and over for an extended period of time that feel most comfortable taking the shortcuts that create safety hazards. During your safety training, you might also consider adding some of the most common unsafe practices seen in your industry and actually hold a demonstration as to why they should never be part of an employee’s work practices.
A return-to-work program should also be in place so that employees with a claim can stay connected to their workplace; be apprised of the employee memos, newsletters, and bulletins; and return to work ready to go.
In closing, part of your multi-faceted approach to controlling workers’ compensation should also include an annual assessment of your workers’ compensation package and the carrier. You should know what the fees paid are for the benefits provided and what the cost to operate is in comparison. Research what various carriers are currently offering and do a comparison against what you already have in place to see if there are any cost savings available from changing carriers.