Workers’ Compensation Best Practices For Employers

As the new year begins, it’s a good idea to review your workers’ compensation policies and procedures to ensure you are in line with industry best-practices. In South Carolina alone, there were over 16,000 workers’ compensation claims filed, costing employers over $800 million, according to the Department of Labor. Considering the fact that between 20% and 25% of injuries reported are fraudulent, it may be in your company’s best interests to discuss your practices with an experienced labor and employment law lawyer. In the meantime, take a look at some of the industry best practices for workers’ compensation.

Creating a Culture of Safety

Creating and fostering a culture of safety in your company begins long before you hire an employee. This type of culture is characterized by:

  • controlling who enters your organization
  • minimizing risk factors prior to the occurrence of incidents
  • clear and consistent communication

Controlling who enters your organization starts with a proper job description. Describing essential job functions can help aid in selecting ideal candidates without running afoul of the American’s with Disabilities Act. Interviews should be designed to assess experience, abilities and fit for the position. Pre-employment screenings should include: 

  • credit checks
  • drug screening
  • reference checks
  • workers compensation claim history
  • driving records
  • criminal background checks

 Get Management Visibly Involved

Establishing written policies and guidelines that are communicated from management to employees is another essential part of creating and fostering a culture of safety. These policies should be provided to new hires, reviewed annually and distributed company-wide. Comprehensive orientations can be invaluable in preventing safety issues before they become workers’ comp claims.

Creating Safety Committees

These types of committees should be empowered to observe and take action on any safety issues they may find. They also create ownership and awareness of safety throughout the workforce, especially when employees from all levels of the organization are involved.

Quick Response to Incidents 

When an injury does occur, the best thing a company can do to reduce workers’ compensation expenses is to immediately address the injury and report claims immediately to your insurer. Your workers’ comp agents are trained in handling injuries in a way that mitigates costs to your organization by hopefully avoiding adversary-type situation, and by coordinating efforts to keep the same incident from happening again.

Returning Injured Workers to the Job
Major cost factors in workers’ compensation claims are rehab and lost wages. The sooner you can return an injured employee to work, the less costs you may incur. Having a return to work (RTW) program that involves the employee, management, claims reps, and the treating physician can be instrumental in getting employees back to work safely, with minimal cost. An RTW should include:

  •  Regulatory compliance
  • Defined responsibilities
  • Prompt reporting
  • Modified work processes
  • Sound investigation
  • Designated physicians
  • Identifying Red Flags

To further minimize company costs, designated individuals should be trained to identify red flags that may indicate the presence of workers’ compensation fraud. These red flags include:

  • an accident with no witnesses
  • proximity of accident to strikes, termination or layoffs
  • conflicting accounts of the injury or accident
  • injuries reported on Monday mornings (injury could have occurred on the weekend)
  • late notice of accidents
  • refusal of medical care
  • injured employee has history of claims

These are but a few red flags to watch out for in workers’ compensation situations. If you do not have expertise in workers’ compensation issues, you could make a costly mistake. For guidance, contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today for a consultation.