Businesses throughout the Hudson Valley are constantly seeking new innovative ways to improve the health and safety of their workers. Keeping employees safe on the job not only makes good sense for employee relations, it helps maintain a healthy bottom-line. A recent study conducted by the American Medical Association confirmed what most businesses have known for years, Occupational injuries and illnesses are one of the most costly ailments impacting health care plans in the United States. In fact, the study found that treating these work related injuries cost more than treating cancer, heart disease and AIDS. The study estimates the total impact to be approximately $171 billion per year.
Implementing an effective injury management and loss control program can assist you in controlling these expenses. Here are three simple ways to assist your company in controlling your workers compensation costs.
1. Early Reporting: The first step in developing an injury management program is to encourage early reporting. Encouraging your employees to report injuries immediately will assist you in insuring that your employees receive prompt, effective medical care. In fact, a study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company found that accidents that were reported after 2 weeks were on average 27% more costly and resulted in over 30 days of disability. In addition, it provides the opportunity to conduct an accident investigation to correct any hazards, thus preventing further injuries.
2. Meet Your Medical Provider: The second step is to develop a relationship with the medical providers in your area. Developing a good working relationship with your providers will allow your company to share valuable information about the accident or injury. This will assist the provider in diagnosing the injury and developing a treatment plan. In addition, you should provide detailed information about the employee job requirements so the physician can make a safe and appropriate return to work recommendation. Work with your provider to develop open communication and ask if they can accommodate the urgent injury that may arise in your workplace. Also encourage your provider to define work restrictions at the initial visit so you may accommodate your employees without creating a lost time accident.
3. Accommodate All Work Restrictions: One of the most effective ways of controlling your workers compensation expense is to provide your employees with a job that accommodates the restrictions set by the physicians. Many studies have shown that returning an employee back to work without delay not only reducing the indemnity expense, but also hastens the employees medical recovery. In many cases, the payment of lost time wages represents nearly 60% of the total workers compensation loss. Controlling this loss requires the company to work with the local provider and encourage them to provide work restrictions and then accommodate those restrictions immediately. This will result in improved employee relations, reduced lost time cases on your OSHA log, and a reduction in your total workers compensation costs.
The control strategies outlined above are just part of the total care-management model that is embraced by the occupational medicine center. Implementing a sound accident reporting and return to work program coupled with identifying your occupational medicine provider will allow your company to effectively manage your workers compensation program.
Todd Martin, MBA, CIE, ATC
Executive Vice President
Emergency One Urgent Care & Occupational Health Center