Rising insurance costs are unwelcome to employers who are already under lots of pressure to produce more with less. Workplace injuries affect far more than insurance premiums. An absent worker no longer contributes to profitable operations. “Your employees are your most important business assets,” says Free. “You can replace computers if you have to. But your employees are handpicked.”
What’s the best way to help cap workers’ compensation costs? The safety programs that have played such a vital role in past years remain the most promising resource today. “The best thing you can do is take steps that will improve safety,” says Free. “That means training people in procedures that can reduce injuries, such as how to lift heavy boxes or utilize a computer keyboard safely. It may also mean purchasing safer equipment.”
A big component is engaging your workforce. “Get people thinking about safety,” says Free. “It has to come from the top down. Make the employees feel that you care about them. Every time there is an accident, enlist the help of your employees in figuring out what caused it and see if it can be fixed.” Pay special attention to new workers who may not have absorbed all of the safety instructions they were given, or who have not honed the skills requisite to injury-free activity.
Establish safety groups that bring employees and managers together so they will become more cognizant of good practices. And explain how a safe work record contributes to an employer’s lower workers’ compensation premium.
Incentive programs can also help. Establish financial rewards for employees any time you go through a set period of time without injuries. A safe workplace is good for employees because it contributes to job retention. Need help? “Most insurance carriers have trained safety and loss-prevention professionals who will visit your workplace and make suggestions,” says Free. “They can help a lot.”