Injuries, illnesses and other accidents at the workplace will happen, even with the best possible security measures in place. However, that doesn't mean a company should ignore proper safety procedures, or skip steps to prevent these incidents from happening and finding ways to lower workers compensation insurance costs.
Once the process hits the claims portion, there are still ways employers can ensure a speedy and cost-effective resolution, and that is with effective communication. In too many cases do companies ignore the needs of the claimant, and that often leads to additional legal action in the pursuit of answers. This problem can be stopped early, and other administrative duties can also help keep expenses down throughout the organization.
Always keep a dialog going
The worst mistake a firm can make during a workers comp insurance claim is to cut off all communication with the involved parties. When this happens, often the only course of action is to bring in additional legal help - which directly leads to rising costs. On the other hand, it is much better to solve everything before it gets to this point.
This was the sentiment expressed by J. Bradley Young, a partner with the Missouri-based law firm of Harris, Dowell, Fisher & Harris, in an article for WorkersCompensation.com. In fact, he described communication as one vital method to keep costs down related to this aspect of insurance. A lot of the time, injured workers only want to be kept in the loop with the process. When shut out, they'll pursue legal courses of action. Young explained that in much of his professional experience he found that this would have never happened to begin with if communication was used effectively from the start.
However, he did note that some employers feel that talking with employees can only lead to a more expensive claims resolution. That is rarely the case in real life, and instead costs tend to go up for the exact opposite reason. Claimants entering the process for the first time are lost, confused and scared. Companies that work closely with them to walk them through the process will only see positive results, not a bigger financial hit.
Encourage a more comfortable workplace
Numerous problems can lead to an increase of workplace injuries, illnesses or other accidents. These don't always have to be directly related to hazards on the job, and employers should strive to create an environment that encourages healthy behavior.
According to California's Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation, badly-designed workspaces can actually be just as detrimental to a person's health. For instance, working in the same area for a prolonged period of time can lead to damage in the hands, arms, neck, back, feet or legs. All measures should be taken to prevent workers from repeating the same motions over and over again. Allow them to take breaks, go for walks or perform different tasks throughout the day.
Even stress can cause problems and lead to workers compensation insurance claims. Chronic stress can be caused by work overload or pressure, a too-fast work pace, harassment or job insecurity, among other factors. If this is the case, it will tend to to cause health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and emotional conditions. Any lapse in these areas could have widespread negative effects in the company. Employees who are too stressed can make mistakes or ignore safety protocols. This could lead to an increase in more serious accidents, as well as rising workers comp insurance costs.