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How to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Claims in the Workplace

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020, with a typical claim costing around $41,000. According to Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index, employers spend around one billion on claim payouts weekly, and this does not include days lost at work. With these statistics, it is no wonder reducing claims is a top priority for employers. Below are some tips on how to prevent workplace injury to reduce claims  

Tip #1: Educate on Workplace Safety

Create a culture of safety at your company and make sure all the employees know about it. Consider a resolute safety team that regularly assesses risks and educates employees about workplace safety. Make sure to assess the risk factors for each facility, piece of equipment or process and take stock of potential danger and establish procedures/policies to mitigate risks.

  1. Train your team early and often, so they know what dangers to look out for, and make sure each person understands their role in preventing injury. Do this for safety basics, new operations, new facilities, and new equipment.
  2. Encourage workers to report hazards AND do something about it. Work with your employees (even if it is anonymously) on reporting hazards or dangerous behavior that can put others at risk, and take steps to improve or remove the hazard.
  3. Reassess the program for process improvement and reward a good safety record.
  4. Lead by example. Make sure all supervisory/management roles are adhering to the same policies put out for workers. 

Tip #2: Match the Employee to the Job

Ensure your employee meets the physical demands the job requires to do the job safely and efficiently.

  1. Make sure any hiring ad accurately describes the job and the physical demands necessary for the job. This will prevent any unqualified candidates from applying.
  2. Make sure you accurately understand the load demands your employees need to perform each job duty and ensure they have the proper equipment to get the job done.
  3. Consider POET (post offer employment tests) to determine whether your employee candidate demonstrates the ability to perform the job demands necessary. This is crucial if there is a heavy-lifting job task, you want to ensure the the job demand can be simulated. 

Tip #3: Develop a Return-to-Work Program

This will lower the number of workdays lost due to injury or illness. It is well known that the longer a person is out of work for an injury, the harder it is to get them back to work. The chances of returning to full employment after a six-month absence due to injury or illness is 55.4%, according to a report by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The chance of returning drops to 32.2% after one year and drops to 4.9% after two years away from work.  

  1. Successful return-to-work programs are geared at getting injured employees back to work as quickly and safely as possible.
  2. Consider modified duty/light duty job tasks or part-time work until the employee fully recovers. This also prevents a drop in morale as they will ease back into their full-time position. 

Tip #4: Choose Quality Medical Care

The key to reducing costs is to provide injured workers with medical attention as soon as possible. This will reduce long-term disability and mitigate any negative effects of costly lawsuits.

  1. Choose medical professionals with quality patient care and better overall results, as opposed to choosing who is closest. This will lead to a better outcome and also get the employee back to work faster.
  2. Establish open communication lines with employee and/or medical provider, so that everyone is on the same page regarding expectations and action plans around the injured worker. For example, if you offer a return-to-work program, make sure everyone knows that is available. 

Tip #5: Boost Employee Health

Employees who are overweight, have poor musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory fitness, are diabetic, or smoke have higher rates of injury and longer durations to recover from injury. Additionally, when a worker feels appreciated and is engaged, they are often more productive and less likely to stay away from work after an injury/illness. 

  1. Boost employee health by encouraging regular medical health screens to find or avoid other illnesses that require medical care (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc).
  2. Encourage fitness. Consider partnering with a gym, offering memberships, or starting a group fitness at lunch. Partner with your benefit coordinators to see if you can offer incentives for wellness through health insurance programs.
  3. Make health a priority for longer-term gains. This will encourage higher retention rates and boost productivity. 

How We Can Help 

Ivy Rehab offers therapy services, including robust treatment programs for the injured worker for all stages of injury, acute to chronic. We offer work conditioning services, POET, on-site job analysis, and return to work determination/disability exams. Additionally, we offer safety education programs on-site, including pre-shift warm-ups, lifting strategies, ergo assessments and musculoskeletal screenings. Click here to find a location and contact us today. 

Article By: Molly Fostek, PT, MSPT, CMTPT, Cert. FCE  

Molly Fostek, PT, MS, PT, CMTPT graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia. She has practiced in outpatient orthopedics for over 22 years with a special interest in work injury management for the last 20 years. She has had extensive training in performing functional capacity evaluations, pre-work screens, work hardening and impairment ratings. She also has training in ergonomic analysis in the workplace.  

Molly believes that “patients don’t fully recover to return to work, they return to work to fully recover.”  Ivy Rehab recognizes immediate access, accurate functional testing, timely communication, and the expectation that safe return to work is a goal of treatment are vital to achieve successful outcomes. She currently treats in the Virginia Beach area of Virginia.

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.

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