Tips to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

By Kimberly Daise

You have control over your workers’ compensation premiums.
Since premiums are based in part on loss history reports you must take steps to prevent injuries and manage claims. This would reduce the chance of cost hikes and maybe result in a reduction in cost.
Tips for controlling your losses, and thus your workers’ compensation premiums:
1. Have transitional jobs ready.
Have a list or positions for light-duty already set aside. Devise transitional jobs that fit within a variety of work restrictions. Thus, when employees are injured, you can easily identify jobs that fit within their restrictions and get them back to work quickly. Don’t delay.
2. Consider options to bring the employee back to work quickly.
Bringing an employee back to work when they’re still recovering can sometimes requires 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
If an injured employee returns to work at less than their full, pre-injury wage, their workers’ compensation insurance may make up most of the difference.
3. Relationship with an occupational health clinic.
The quality of treatment counts 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 programs. This will supplement the back-to-work program. The employee can heal while on the job. Ask and provide the information they’ll need from you regarding the injured worker’s job description.
4. Have a point person for return to work.
It helps to have a person who is accountable for getting injured employees back to work as soon as medically possible. This includes staying in contact with the employee, working with the treating doctor and involving the employee’s supervisor.
5. Make sure employees understand and follow work restrictions.
If an injured employee doesn’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. Make sure they know they should follow their restrictions both at work and outside of work.
6. Contact with your injured employees.
Let injured employees who are off work know that you are concerned about their injuries and recovery. Call them and talk to them. Let the employee know they are valued and that you are looking forward to their return. Keep up on the status, expectations and return-to-work date for each injured employee. This requires planning and consent contact. It’s important to keep recovery on track.
7. Report injuries immediately.
As soon as you learn of an injury, the clock starts ticking toward state deadlines. Reporting the injury as soon as it occurs ensures that injured workers get the best and most appropriate treatment right away.
It 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. Communications is crucial. 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, review the incident and identify what caused it and how similar accidents can be prevented in the future. Take the time and spot problem areas and identify opportunities to improve safety.
9. Develop a wellness program.
There is a connection between health issues (such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension) and higher workers’ compensation costs. That’s why it is beneficial of finding ways to encourage wellness among your workforce. Encouraging healthy lifestyles for your employees.

Every Contractor Should require Workers’ comp Insurance

Risk management plans should require workers’ compensation coverage for any hired subcontractors. Since subcontractors are not able to hide behind statutes for contracts, workers’ compensation coverage should be required whether there are statutory provisions or not.

Regarding those who are in contractor and subcontractor relationships many states have statutory regulations regarding workers’ compensation benefits. Employees of subcontractors must be covered by workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured. The benefits are paid by the immediate employer or the company hiring the immediate employer for the job. The contractor as the immediate employer on the job faces the ultimate responsibility of providing, offering or being responsible for workers’ compensation to employees of uninsured subcontractors. This is true regardless of the number of employees the subcontractor has. Therefore, the contractor should make sure that all subcontractors are covered. No exceptions should apply. One exception could cost you your business in the face of an injury.

It is important to avoid confusing the subcontractor-general contractor relationship with an owner-independent contractor relationship. A general contractor is the entity the owner contracts with to complete projects. A portion or all the tasks are then assigned to subcontractors. In order for a general contractor’s relationship to function, there must be three separate parties. These parties include the owner, an independent contractor and a subcontractor. If any portion of a job is subcontracted, a general contractor’s status changes to independent contractor.

An independent contractor is a party contracting directly with an owner or principal to complete a job. In most cases, independent contractors perform jobs that the principal or owner does not normally do. The entire job is completed by the independent contractor and employees. Keep in mind that they are not considered employees of the principal or owner. The independent contractor (usually the general contractor) provides workers compensation insurance for all its employees.

As a general rule, the property owners are not usually financially responsible for an independent contractor’s injured employees. They are also not responsible for the injuries of employees of subcontractors hired by the independent contractor. General contractors are financially responsible for an uninsured subcontractor’s injured employees. Make sure the subcontractors have workers’ compensation insurance.

If the subcontractor and general contractor both lack workers’ compensation coverage, the property owner may be sued for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by an injured worker. Since the property owner does not qualify as a general contractor or employer, financial responsibility is not usually an issue. While employer status is nonexistent, there are other theories of liability that may cause them to responsible to pay compensation. For example, failing to provide a safe workplace. In such a case, a workers’ compensation policy or a general liability policy usually provides adequate defense for the property owner and likewise can protect your business. All contractors and subcontractors are subject to the laws regarding workers’ compensation. To avoid facing financial responsibility for injured workers, it is important for general contractors to require all lower tiers of workers to carry their own workers’ compensation insurance.


By: Kimberly Daise

For some employers’ safety is the most important aspect of their business, a healthy investment which their company strives to promote throughout the workplace. Yet others see safety as code for an over burdensome waste of time, money, and effort. For businesses struggling with safety culture improvement, here are a few tips to raise and increase awareness.

Increase the importance and awareness of the benefits of safety in the work place. Employees may be hesitant to embrace safety if they feel that it does not apply to them. It is important that employees understand that even if they are not working on machines or climbing to dangerous heights, that they are still at risk of injury. Include information and statistics on real life safety topics such as food preparation, or slip and falls in rest rooms or walking down a hallway. Topics like these will show employees that there are risks involved with every job! Videos of real workplace safety hazards and community safety programs can help get the point across. Encourage employees to include their family members in the safety message. Injuries can affect people at home or at work.

Another great way to involve employees in the safety environment and concern of the business is by creating a new safety committee/board, or inviting them to join your existing safety committee/board or if no committee /board exist, to have a monthly meeting with the employer to discuss the safety aspect. Make sure management allows employees to participate during work time.  Employees may not want to take their free time to discuss this matter and it confirms that the employer is respectful of the employees’ time. A safety meeting should have representatives from all levels of the organization, from management to laborers. This gives employees the opportunity to express any concerns they may have along with efforts to ensure those issues are addressed with everyone’s impute.  Sometimes employees may provide options that the employer can utilize and this will buster good will between all parties. The committee can also create goals for safety compliance, including rewarding employees for participating or making safety improvements.

Since safety does not remain of the minds of employee every second, a simple way to keep safety in the minds of your employees is to include a reminder in their paycheck envelopes, send emails, text messages or safety news update boards in employee areas. Providing and sharing safety tips, statistics, and real-life stories about other companies like your own are just a few examples of what can be included. Ask your employees for suggestions or ideas on what they would like to learn more about.   Additional, host safety training seminars or meeting at the workplace.  These meeting should take place during work hours.  This will keep safely a little more on the minds of the employee and provide safety updates.

The focus of the committee and the employer encouragement to the employee should be to help the employer identify the hazard and correct it.  Encourage employees to look for hazards in the workplace and report them to the appropriate personnel to correct the problem!  Make workplace safety a habit not a hassle.