Nine expert tips that can lower your workers’ compensation costs

Many employers don’t realize how much control they can have over their workers’ compensation premiums.

Because premiums are based partially on your loss history, you can avoid future premium hikes (and maybe even see some reductions) if you take steps to prevent injuries and manage claims well.

Following are some of our best tips for controlling your losses, and as a result, your workers’ compensation premiums:

1. Have a list of transitional jobs ready for when you need it.

List light-duty, transitional jobs that fit within a variety of work restrictions. That way when employees are injured, you can easily identify jobs that fit within their restrictions and get them back to work quickly. Delays of even a day or two can increase claims costs substantially by triggering wage-loss payments that would otherwise be unnecessary.

2. Consider all your options to bring the employee back to work quickly.

Bringing employees back to work when they’re still recovering can sometimes require a little creativity. Your options include:

  • Reducing the employee’s work hours or work days
  • Bringing the employee back in a different position at a reduced wage
  • Altering the employee’s equipment or work area
  • Swapping tasks with other employees or reorganizing work within the injured employee’s group
  • Arranging for temporary work in a different area of the company
  • Create a new lighter-duty job that will be transitional and temporary

Many employers don’t realize that if they bring injured employees back to work at less than their full, pre-injury wage, their workers’ compensation insurance will make up most of the difference.

3. Have a relationship with an occupational health clinic.

Quality of treatment counts for a lot in medical costs and outcomes. To find a good clinic, ask whether they have experience treating injured employees and accommodate return to work so that the employee can heal while on the job. Ask what information they’ll need from you in the event of an injury, such as an injured worker’s job description.

4. Have a point person for return to work.

It helps to have one person who is accountable for getting injured employees back to work as soon as medically possible. This generally includes staying in contact with the employee, working with the treating doctor and involving the employee’s supervisor.

5. Ensure that employees understand and follow any work restrictions.

When injured employees don’t follow their doctors’ restrictions, it can result in costly claim complications. Take the time to go through employees’ restrictions with them and talk about any aspects of the job that could cause them to do work beyond what their doctor has permitted. Also make sure they know they should follow their restrictions both at work and outside of work.

6. Stay in contact with your injured employees.

Let injured employees who are off work know that you are concerned about their injuries and recovery, that you value what they bring to the organization and that you are looking forward to their return. Keep up on the status, expectations and return-to-work date for each injured employee. Have a plan and stay in touch with the employee, supervisor and claims representative to make sure things stay on track.

7. Report injuries right away.

As soon as you learn of an injury, the clock starts ticking toward state deadlines for paying or denying benefits. For SFM policyholders, reporting right away through the SFM Work Injury Hotline in non-emergency situations ensures that injured workers get the best and most appropriate treatment right away.

Reporting right away keeps you in compliance with the state deadlines and allows your claims representative to be responsive to your employees. Delayed reporting can result in longer-duration claims and higher costs.

Watch out for communications breakdowns. Employees and supervisors need to know who to contact when an injury occurs, and your organization’s point person for reporting claims needs to act with a sense of urgency.

8. Analyze past injuries.

Anytime an injury occurs, conduct an accident analysis to identify what caused it and how similar accidents can be prevented in the future. You can also use your loss history reports to help spot problem areas and identify opportunities to improve safety.

9. Develop a wellness program.

Studies show a connection between health issues such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension and higher workers’ compensation costs, but that’s only one benefit of finding ways to encourage wellness among your workforce. Encouraging healthy lifestyles can also raise productivity and reduce healthcare costs.

This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.

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