Controlling costs. It’s a topic that’s top of mind for employers. Two experts from NJM Insurance Group, the largest workers’ compensation insurer in New Jersey for more than seven decades, weigh in on one area where business owners can better manage costs.
“Preventing work-related accidents and illnesses help reduce your workers’ compensation losses and ultimately lower your premiums,” said Jim Clancy, manager of commercial lines, who has more than 22 years of experience in loss prevention. “And a great way to help prevent work-related injuries is by implementing a solid workplace safety program.”
Making safety a priority sends a strong signal to employees that an employer cares about their well-being. To be successful, a workplace safety program requires a company-wide commitment, from executive leadership down to the newest employee.
“Effective loss prevention programs establish and reinforce a formal employee safety policy, eliminate hazardous conditions in the workplace, and involve employees to heighten awareness and foster a ‘work safely’ culture,” said Clancy.
He said employers should ask their insurer what safety training tools it offers and if it can create a comprehensive program designed specifically for their business.
“At NJM, we provide evaluations by an experienced loss prevention engineer, industrial hygienist, or training specialist,” said Clancy. “We also offer seminars on workplace safety and an extensive library—streaming video and DVD—of training aids and loss-reducing educational programs.”
Prompt reporting of injury or illness
When a workplace accident occurs, having a system in place that provides the injured or ill worker with timely care is equally important in effectively managing workers’ comp costs.
“Make sure your employee receives prompt and proper medical attention,” said Joe Dotro, assistant vice president of workers’ compensation claims. “Once your employee has been treated, it’s important to report the incident to your insurer as soon as possible. Long lapses in reporting can result in potentially higher claim costs, due to delays in treatment and benefits. The sooner your insurer and your injured employee can communicate, the better chance for a successful and timely claim resolution.”
Once a claim is reported, a representative will stay in contact with the injured employee, ensuring the appropriate benefits are paid. The claims representative will also work hand-in-hand with the treating doctors as well as the insurer’s own medical staff to help manage care or rehabilitation.
Caring for your employee
Insurers have teams of claims professionals and medical experts that will:
- Evaluate the treatment your injured employee receives.
- Verify medical providers are following recognized medical guidelines and provide direction of care.
- Ensure all treatment and prescriptions are medically necessary.
- Provide you with reports updating the status of your employee.
- Focus on your employee’s safe, efficient return to work.
Returning your employee to work
An effective return-to-work program can help lower an employer’s costs by allowing for a gradual transition to the employee’s job as safely and quickly as possible. Some examples of return-to-work programs include modified duties or reduced hours.
Checking your claims history
A little investigative work into your past workers’ compensation claims could identify any injury patterns or repeat claim occurrences. A deeper dive could determine the underlying reasons and aid in developing corrective measures.
“At NJM, we offer to review customers’ claims history and suggest possible safety initiatives to consider,” said Dotro. “If you were experiencing repeated losses due to a particular type of injury, our loss prevention staff could work with you to identify the areas where those claims were occurring. You could then implement measures to remove the conditions posing those hazards. Lowering the frequency of your claims should help your overall costs.”
Providing a safety-first culture at work, reporting claims promptly, ensuring employees receive proper treatment, and addressing trends in a company’s claim loss experience—these are all proactive steps an employer can implement to safeguard the workplace and better manage their workers’ compensation costs.