Controlling Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

Workers’ Compensation insurance is required for most employers in most states (all but Texas). While it’s a necessary cost of having employees, it’s one cost that can be controlled.

Many employers pay high premiums for workers’ compensation because they have too many claims open for long periods of time or because the company is not effectively controlling their workers’ compensation process. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are several ways an employer can work to control these workers’ compensation costs including creating and enforcing a safety program, properly managing any injuries that do occur on the job, and implementing a “Return to Work” program to get employees back to work as soon as possible following an injury. Continue reading

OSHA Final Rule: Electronic Reporting and the End of Blanket Post-Injury Drug Testing

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published a final rule to “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.”  The full text of the rule can be found here.  The rule requires electronic submission of work related injury data for some employers. In addition, the rule serves to prevent employers from illegally discriminating and/or retaliating against employees for reporting work related injuries and illnesses.  This means employers may no longer be able to use post-injury drug testing for all work related injuries. The new rule will be enforced beginning November 1, 2016.

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What if an Employee is Injured Too Often?

I have a fairly good 48-year old employee who has a chronic problem with Workers’ Comp claims. This individual is constantly getting injured and missing a lot of work because of these injuries. I am afraid he is building up to a permanent disability claim.  Can I legally terminate him?aide-161214_1280

Dismissing an employee for filing Workers’ Comp claims is a violation of public policy.

Courts have established and upheld state statutes protecting employees from being dismissed from their jobs for filing Workers’ Comp claims. In addition, your employee may very well be protected from discrimination by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws.

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Can an Employer Discipline Safety Violators?

I have employees who are literally accidents waiting to happen because they neverquestion-685060_1280 seem to think before they take action. We have way too many Workers’ Comp claims. However, our foremen and supervisors don’t seem to be able to solve this problem. Can we discipline – or even terminate – employees for
“no brainer” injuries? 

The answer to your question is “Yes” and “No.”

We’ll explain what we mean and elaborate on some points which may be helpful to you.

Disciplinary action should not result from an employee filing a Workers’ Comp claim or reporting a possible safety hazard. But disciplinary action typically may result when an employee knowingly and repeatedly ignores or violates a known company policy. The key word here is “known.”

How can you prove (if necessary) that your employee “knew” the policy, rule or procedure? Put your company policies and procedures in writing and have your employees sign an acknowledgement form that they received and read them.

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Workers’ Comp Fraud: Tips to Clip It

scissors-235211_1280Legitimate Workers’ Comp claims can cost your business big money.  Fraudulent claims can drive up your costs even more and for  years ahead.  What are the most likely ways employees can claim bogus Workers’ Comp?  Following are claims to give special attention to:

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Reducing Workers’ Compensation Costs

coins-97132_1280Workers’ Comp is an important safety net of protection which benefits both the worker who risks injury on the job and the employer who would otherwise face potentially crippling liability for workplace injuries.  The Workers’ Comp insurance system is intended to streamline claims, and take these issues out of the courts and into a no-fault context.

This helps workers get the cash flow they need to replace lost incomes right away.  At the same time it helps employers avoid a lawsuit which could bankrupt them, arising out of the serious injury or death of an employee due to a workplace accident.

That said, some employers may actually be paying more than necessary for Workers’ Compensation premiums because they don’t understand how premiums are set, and what they can do to help improve their ratings to lower premiums.

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How to Investigate Workplace Accidents

checklist-154274_1280Your business exists to make a profit.  Your business decisions are based on sales, costs, profits, and losses.  Keeping accurate records is essential in making your business successful.  Patterns found in your financial records influence your decisions.

Investigation and recordkeeping of accidents, related injuries, and property loss serve the same purpose.  Determining patterns of accidents will influence your decisions.

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Make Safety Part of the Daily Workplace Routine

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for employees.  But in addition to a legal obligation, employers also can cut costs and save money by investing in a safety program and a safe workplace, and by getting employees to focus on maintaining a safe work environment and performing work safely.

One important and necessary element in creating and maintaining a safe work environment is a well-thought-out safety program which employees respect and follow.  And driving a successful safety program are two significant facts:

  • People — everyone in the workplace from the top CEO to the new, entry-level employees — are the major cause of work-related accidents and injuries.
  • Each person in the workplace — from the CEO or owner to the teenaged part-timer — has a responsibility to set up safe working conditions and make them work.

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OSHA Issues New Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Serious Injuries; Data to be Made Public

On Sept. 11, 2014, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule which greatly expands the scope of injuries that must be reported to OSHA on an expedited basis.  Currently, employers only have an affirmative obligation to report an injury/illness to OSHA under the following circumstances:

  1. A work-related fatality (within 8 hours)
  2. The hospitalization of three or more employees (within 8 hours)
  3. The occurrence of a point-of-operation injury on a mechanical power press (within 30 days).

Under the revised standard, an employer has the following mandatory reporting obligations effective Jan. 1, 2015:

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Kickball Injury Can Result in Workers’ Comp Benefits

In a not-so-surprising development (at least to those paying workers’ comp insurance premiums), the field of “things employees can’t collect workers’ comp for” continues to shrink.

The South Carolina Supreme Court just ruled a worker can receive workers’ comp for an injury sustained playing kickball, The New York Times reported.

And no, as you’ve likely guessed by now, playing kickball was not part of his job description.

Team-building

Meet Stephen Whigham, an employee of the PR firm Jackson Dawson Communications.

After being instructed by his boss to organize an employee team-building event, Whigham put together a voluntary kickball game, which he decided to play in.

While avoiding a tag, Whigham shattered two bones in his leg, which required two surgeries, and he’ll eventually have to undergo a knee replacement.

After much legal wrangling, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that he should get workers’ compensation benefits, although a hearing will be held to determine the final amount.

The state’s highest court said he’s entitled to benefits because he was expected to attend the game as part of his professional duties – after all, he was the one who organized it.

Did he have to play?

But that wasn’t everyone’s opinion.

According to The Times‘ report, workers’ comp commissioners initially denied Whigham’s claim, saying the game was voluntary.  An appeals court agreed.

But, nevertheless, Whigham’s case found its way into the hands of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

There it was ruled his organization of the game obligated him to attend – therefore, he gets comp.

Still, two dissenting justices questioned whether or not he had to play, even if he had to attend.

How to control comp

Don’t want to open yourself up to this kind of workers’ comp claim?  Make sure employees know what’s voluntary and what’s not.

It’s possible that had Whigham’s supervisor made it clear that his participation in the game was voluntary (even if he had to attend), the original commission ruling would have stood.

 

Source: HR Morning