Workers’ comp: What’s on your mind?

healthy livingPost-accident cost control tops the list of employers’ workers’ compensation concerns, according to a 2013 study released by ZyWave. Ironically, accident prevention ranked a close second, indicating some employers are putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Also weighing heavily on employers’ minds are obesity and diabetes, as well as workplace violence.

If you share these concerns, you’ll love this week’s list of best workers’ comp practices.

Accident prevention
The best way to control claims costs is to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Texas Mutual recommends that every employer create a documented safety program and, just as importantly, enforce the program.

If you don’t have a safety program and you’re not sure where to start, visit texasmutualsafetyfirst.com for three simple steps to preventing workplace accidents.

Employers can take advantage of other free resources at worksafetexas.com, safehandtexas.org, the Texas Department of Insurance, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Post-accident cost control
What do you do when an employee gets injured on the job? File the claim and let your insurance company handle it? If so, you are missing valuable opportunities to control your claims costs and, ultimately, your premium.

A return-to-work program is a proactive way for employers to manage their claims. You should customize your program to meet your needs, but it should include these core steps.

Before an accident:

  1. Put your return-to-work program in writing.
  2. Assess job tasks, documenting the physical demands.
  3. Identify modified duty injured employees can do while they recover.

After an accident:

  1. Communicate regularly with the injured worker, the doctor and the insurance company.
  2. Make a bona fide offer of employment when you have identified a modified duty assignment. See DWC Rule 129.6 for more information on bona fide offers of employment.

Texas Mutual and the Texas Department of Insurance offer free resources to help employers launch a return-to-work program or improve an existing program.

Obesity
Unhealthy habits can affect work performance, motivation, quality of life and self-worth. From an employer’s perspective, an unhealthy worker can contribute to increased health care costs and workers’ compensation claims related to health problems.

A Duke University Medical Center study found that obese workers filed twice as many workers’ compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs from those claims, and lost 13 times more days of work from on-the-job injuries or illnesses than non-obese workers. Ultimately, obesity costs employers $73 billion per year.

An employee wellness program can help reduce those costs and promote a happier, more productive workforce.

Workplace violence
Do your employee work late hours, exchange money with the public or guard valuable items? If so, they may be at risk of workplace violence.

Workplace violence is the second-leading cause of on-the-job fatalities, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and NIOSH found that each week in the United States, there are nearly 20 homicides and 18,000 assaults in the workplace. Preparation and planning can help minimize the number of employees involved in a violent workplace incident.

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