Magazine article Risk Management

Ten Easy Steps to Fewer Workers Compensation Claims

Magazine article Risk Management

Ten Easy Steps to Fewer Workers Compensation Claims

Article excerpt

With many 2009 budgets likely cut to the bone in response to the ongoing financial crisis, it is especially important that every employer do anything that they can do to control costs. One way to do this is to minimize the risk of losses from workers compensation claims--something much easier said than done. But to help with that, try applying the following 10 steps to your enterprise. They could go a long way to identifying injury-causing risks and developing a plan to reduce work-related injuries and workers compensation claims.

Workers Comp Claims

I

IDENTIFY RISKS WITHIN YOUR SPECIFIC BUSINESS

Some risks may be obvious, even to the most casual observer, but do not stop there. Employers need to assess risk in terms of both severity of consequences and probability of occurrence. We can all envision a worst-case scenario in which chemicals combine to produce toxicity or an explosion. We also know that unguarded moving parts on a machine can cause devastating injuries. Certainly, employers can and must identify these high-risk situations and implement safety practices to protect against them. The consequences of these risks are severe, but the probability of their occurrence on any given day may not be that great.

But chances are, this is not where you experience your greatest exposure in terms of workers compensation claims. Like the old saying "death by a thousand cuts," the risks producing less severe consequences have the greatest probability of occurrence in any given day on the job. This is consistent with one widely accepted formula for risk quantification:

Rate of Occurrence x Impact of Effect = Risk

Look deeper into your business to find out where these problem areas are.

II

ANALYZE PAST CLAIM HISTORY

As an employer, your company's past claim history holds important clues and is a good place to start. It can help identify injury trends or risk patterns within your company and ways to eliminate or reduce those risks.

Consider the nature of the work-related injuries reported in a given period of time. Are there a disproportionate number of slip and fall injuries? If so, why? What was it about employment conditions that may have caused this trend? Did the injuries tend to occur in a specific area or department? Look for common clusters or scenarios.

Your past claim history can also help determine which areas generate the fewest injuries or claims. Try to find out what that department does--or does not do--that is so effective in reducing or eliminating work injuries.

III

DOCUMENT AND KEEP METICULOUS RECORDS OF WORK-RELATED INJURIES

Be meticulous in documenting and reporting injuries as they occur. Anyone in a position to accept notification of a work-related injury from an employee should be trained to record critical information such as:

* Who was injured?

* What happened?

* When did it happen?

* Where did the injury occur?

* How/why did the injury occur?

* Were there witnesses? Did anyone see the injury occur? If so, obtain names and take signed and dated statements from those individuals, and place them in a logical and secure place.

* What is the nature of the injury? What part(s) of the worker's body was injured in the occurrence?

This information should be recorded as soon as possible and maintained in the normal course of business. By following this practice, employers will acquire consistently reported and reliable information about injuries. Through timely investigation of injuries as they occur, employers can often find specific factors that led to the injury and what circumstances were present to contribute to the injury. Only then can the employer identify each risk factor and develop ways to counter those risk factors.

If an injury leads to a workers compensation claim, never underestimate the power of good documentation and meticulous record-keeping by the employer to assist in the defense of those claims. …

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