MAKE A BIG IMPACT IN LOWERING Workers’ Comp Litigation

Make a Big Impact in Lowering Workers’ Comp Litigation
By Kimberly Daise
Use the Dispute resolution option and stop litigating. Use an Alternative dispute resolution program. ADR programs are designed to eliminate litigation by negotiating workers’ compensation benefits and the dispute resolution process between the employer and its unions.
While the unions appear not to be encouraging litigation, a large number of employees still retained the services of an attorney.
Why? Many employees indicate they get an attorney because they had not been contacted by their frontline employer supervisor. The employee is usually worried about their status within the company and their job.
This can be resolved by implementing a program within the business that requires the supervisors to have a consistent and repeated person to person contact with the employee.
Supervisors do not realize the profound positive impact they can have on their employees. Many supervisors do not remain in contact with injured employees because the workers’ compensation claims administration process is not designed to encourage that interaction. additionally, some supervisors are and can be uncomfortable trying to discuss a complex system. Employers supervisors may also be unsure of what they are allowed to discuss with the employee. This apprehension is related to the concern for medical privacy. Even if these matters are not discussed the contacted injured employee will likely feel that the employer cares and that they will be looked after. The employer has a vested interest in not only the company but their well-being as well.
Based on an ADR program study, employers can help reduce their litigation rate if they encourage their frontline supervisors to remain in contact with employees after an industrial accident and coach them on appropriate interaction.

The most important aspect of the process is to send the message that the employee is valued, respected, and wanted back at work. Supervisors do not have to be workers’ compensation experts. A supervisor should convey a sense of care and a willingness to keep the employee connected to their team.
Frontline supervisors may inquire with statements like these:
1. How are you feeling?
2. We miss you and the good work you do!
3. We are having our birthday; if you can attend we would love to see you. Do you feel up to coming by?
4. If you have any concerns please call me and let me know If I cannot help you I will find a person who can?
Remember the smallest gestures can make the biggest impact. Don’t forget to show injured or ill employees how much caring counts throughout the recovery and return to work process.

Create A Safe Workplace

Create a Safe Workplace  Creating a safe place to work is the best ways to keep your employee’s accident-free. Not only does it lower your workers compensation cost and premium, but all your employees go home unharmed.   This will create an environment where not only do they look out for themselves but they will look out for each other and therefor the organization benefits.

A safe workplace all the employees working together to ensure that everyone on the site is following all safety procedures and wearing all safety gear.  This also includes examining the equipment to make sure it is functioning correctly and speaking up and reporting any known issues with equipment and anyone failure to follow safety procedures.

  1.  Look and Check for Hazards

Regularly check the workplace site for hazards and examine those things you already consider safely done. Just because it was safe last week does not mean it is safe this week. This includes regularly checking machinery and tools, as well as regular employee training on how to use, maintain and examine the tools.   Examine old tools very carefully.  Maybe they have not broken yet or no injury has occurred yet but the tool maybe old and worn.  Look closely, the hazard maybe there still.

      2. Employee Training

Train your employee to consider safety first and include them in regular training sessions even if they have been trained already. Try to focus the training on not just the use of the tool but also about identifying hazards, reducing the risk of accidents, near miss reporting.  By providing each employee with safety check reminders, you might even consider requiring  safety check reports to be done.  Whatever the employee job duties are make sue the employee knows that safely is as important as all the other duties.

  1. Get Employees Involved

Employee must be actively involved in safety so it is important to create an environment where the employees are recognized for their active involvement in the safety program.  The practice of safety measure at the workplace and to recognized and rewarded.  Consider have a monthly safety meeting to discuss and share the safety practices, including missing incidents and any incidents that have occurred.  Talk about trouble shooting and safety issues.  This impute directly from the employees is invaluable.  They are the ones in the field and using the tools and seeing the physical situation that exist on job sites.  This will allow to employees to share and feel vested in the safety of the workplace and know that the business is concerned about their safety.


The goal to a safe workplace is continually practice prevention


By Kimberly Daise
One of the most frustrating aspects of managing a workers’ compensation program is getting injured workers back to work. Usually, the employer is faced with an injured worker who wants to stay at home forever or an employer who thinks he can lift 50 lb. bags ten days after surgery. The key is to develop a flexible yet effective return to work program.
Almost every company has a slightly different Return to Work program. However, they have 3 points in common.
1. Job task should fit the medical restrictions
Here is an example: The employer request the worker to return to work in a light-duty job position. The job duties, however, exceed the claimant’s work restrictions and the worker refuses to complete the task. Employer doesn’t want to pay TTD because a light duty job was given to the claimant and he refused to do it. This is an issue because the Judge or Arbitrator, however, orders the employer to pay TTD because the light duty job exceeded the claimant’s work restrictions. This is not a good situation for either party.
Every employer should have documentation that lists the specific job duties and task analysis for every job position. Review this documentation and make sure that the task to be performed is within those permitted. Make sure the light work job has enough details so that when it is reviewed it fits the medically permitted task. This will provide the employer with documentation that the job task was medically permitted. And did not exceed any restrictions. This will eliminate the he said she said position the employer may find himself at a hearing.
Avoid this pitfall before it happens by making sure that the job does not exceed the claimant’s work restrictions and has the job description signed off by the employee.
2. Return to work offers must be in writing
Employers should always offer the employee the position in writing and in person. Phone calls and phone conversation commonly are said to have not occurred.
This is EASY to avoid. Make sure that the return to work offer is always in writing, email or text messaging works just as well as a mailed letter. With this, the worker cannot later claim that he was never told to return to work. Problem solved.
3. Light duty job must have a purpose
What do you do in situations when you want to get the injured worker back to work, but he can’t perform any of the light duty task you have available? Often employers in these situations like to put the injured worker into a distasteful or detestable job, hoping that the worker will quit the job assigned and want to go back to his regular job. For example, the job is watching paint dry on the wall. The problem is this is a big risk. The light duty should meet a legitimate need and purpose within and for the company. The job can not appear to be meaningless or punitive.