How to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs and Establish a Safety Program

The best way for an employer to lower workers’ compensation costs is to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Involve your employees in identifying hazardous work practices and potentially harmful situations, areas, or equipment. Safety teams and company incentives play a role in reducing costs. Most importantly, management must be willing to listen and put into practice appropriate recommendations.

Many insurance companies offer free advice to policyholders about how to establish and maintain safe workplaces. You can also use the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s free On-Site Consultation Service to find out about po- tential hazards at your worksites and improve your occupational safety and health man- agement systems. Information on this service can be obtained by contacting:

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Public Safety and Occupational Safety and Health

P.O. Box 953
Trenton, NJ 08625
(609) 984-0785

Establish Return-to-Work Programs

Creating return-to-work programs that include appropriate light-duty or modified jobs can encourage workers to return to employment sooner and lower business costs.

In addition, employers can partner with medical professionals and managed care specialists to design jobs that will not aggravate or re-injure workers who have recovered enough to return to work, but need additional time before resuming regular duties. The employer should provide an injured worker’s job description to his or her medical care provider. Such information may facilitate early release of the worker to some type of modified duty.

Researchers have found that in companies offering return-to-work programs, workers felt more satisfied with the care they received.

Establish and Maintain Good Communication with Injured Employees

Frequently communicate workers’ compensation-related information to employees in plain, straightforward language. Publicize company procedures for job-related injuries or illnesses and encourage early reporting of such injuries. Let workers know which doctors they must see for work-related claims. When workers receive prior communication about what to do when a work-related injury or illness occurs, they are more likely to follow the employer’s established procedures.

When the same information is received after an injury has already occurred, employee reaction and response may be less positive.

Employers should actively become involved in every workers’ compensation case. Communicate on a regular basis with your employees who are disabled with work related injuries. The communication, whether it is by telephone or in person, should be positive and upbeat.

If your company conducts an accident investigation, keep in mind that an important purpose of such an investigation should be to determine how the accident occurred so that such occurrences can be prevented in the future.

Studies have shown that prior communication and post-injury demonstrations of concern by the employer can result in higher levels of worker satisfaction and reduced time lost from work — factors that contribute to lower program costs.

Ensure Prompt Treatment from the Right Medical Providers

Helping the injured worker get immediate medical attention pays off for both worker and employer on several levels. Typically, the sooner injured workers receive proper treatment, the sooner they may return to work.

Under the New Jersey workers’ compensation law, the employer and/ or its insurance carrier select the medical providers to treat injured workers for work-related injuries. Such control of medical treatment is an important employer right and obligation.

When a workplace accident or occupational exposure occurs, the injured worker should be offered prompt medical treatment. Employers should keep in mind that providing medical coverage is not considered an admission of liability (N.I.S.A. 34:15-15).