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Friday, June 13, 2014

How to prevent worker's comp claims

Employer liability protection
Active business liability approaches help lower risk
By Brian Levesque

Until a business is faced with a workers compensation claim, many owners take a passive stance in avoiding such claims. Not only is this a critical error from the standpoint of employee safety, it can be a costly mistake to your bottom line. While no workplace is without it’s share of hazards, a large amount of businesses aren’t taking proper precautions to minimize risks. This can be done during both the pre-employment stage as well after the employee is on the job. 

Many times a company can avoid hiring the next employee compensation claim just by taking advantage of resources available to HR professionals. After your staff is in place, there are several measures that can be taken by owners, supervisors and managers to reduce the amount of legitimate injury claims while knowing what to look for to prevent fraudulent ones.

Invest in the hiring process to keep your EMR down

Several tools are available to HR managers in today’s world to screen out applicants who might not fit the position or workplace culture. The criminal background check is one of the most common. A credit check may also take place and if you’ll be driving a company vehicle, a background check will be conducted. One check that isn’t possible is a prior workers compensation claim check as this would violate Americans with Disabilities Act as well as other state laws. However after a conditional offer is made, an employer may require a variety of medical screenings to make sure the applicant is fit for employment. Provided the medical examinations are provided to all persons within the same job category these practices do not violate the above acts or laws. Tests like DOT physicals and Isokinetic testing do require an investment with costs ranging from $50 to $150 on average. However, if they are able to detect a strong probability of a future claim, the tests more than pay for itself. Stop a couple of potential worker compensation claims and your business can realize significant returns by eliminating costly premium hikes related to an increase in your EMR.

Educating management staff on avoiding workplace hazards

Once you have your employees in place the work doesn’t stop in preventing costly claims. It is your manager’s responsibility to constantly preach safety and it’s your responsibility to make sure they are. It is too easy to get lost in the day to day duties of the job and safety standards become lax. When an accident does occur, your managers have to know exactly what to do, where to gather information, and who to contact. Often times the calamity of the accident causes the latter two to take place much further after the incident than they should.

It’s important to keep in mind that details can become fuzzy and witnesses to the accident can forget. Making sure you record witness accounts and report those to your insurance provider as fast as possible can be critical in the claims process. If after gathering information and contacting your insurance provider you may suspect fraud. It does happen and even if making it clear that any attempt at fraud will be prosecuted, there are still those who will try to abuse the system. At this point it is within your rights to conduct an investigation and if sufficient findings are present to suggest fraud you should turn over the findings to your district attorney’s office. It would be advisable at this juncture to contact representation of your own as every situation is different.

It is nearly impossible to prevent all workers compensation claims. Accidents can occur anywhere and the workplace is no different. Taking the necessary precautions above are some of the best ways during the hiring process and on the job to reduce the likelihood of a claim. Some of these tactics may even help you recognize and deal with a fraudulent claim if suspicions arise. Taking a “hands off” approach and assuming the claims process is solely the insurance company’s problem can be a costly mistake you should ensure your business doesn’t commit.

About the author: Brian Levesque is a professional blogger who lives in Orlando, Florida. He ejoys spending his spare time watching movies and trying new foods. Brian strongly recommends that you visit WorkFlowOrlando.com, if you have been injured because of a workplace safety issue.

Image license: Paul Keleher; CC BY 2.0  "Construction Workers"