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7 Disincentives for Employees to Return to Work and How You Can Avoid Them

The following is a list of 7 possible ways that an employee can make just as much (or more) money while they are injured than they would make if they were not injured.

1) Double Dipping – Employees may receive funds from both workers’ compensation and disability insurance if their injury is one that puts them out of work for a long period of time.

2) Unemployment – In some states, employees who are receiving workers’ compensation may also qualify for unemployment under certain circumstances. Companies should offer all injured employees a transitional job which they can perform while they are injured. If the employee turns down the transitional job, they will most likely not be granted unemployment status.

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Invest In Your Safety Plan and Workers’ Compensation Programs and Save!

If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49.00 today. If you purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0.00 today. Tough economic times call for aggressive measures. Invest in your company’s safety program and your injured workers return to work program.

Designing a good safety program can help with the rising costs of workers’ compensation insurance premiums. No business is immune to having injuries, they will happen! That is part of the cost of doing business. Having a safety plan is like ground zero; you need to look at your company as a whole and build from your safety plan. Evaluate the environment, the tools, the hazards, and overall safety of your employees. Prevention is the best way to save!

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Workers Compensation Costs Driven By Inappropriate Claims!

Inappropriate claims are one the biggest driving costs of workers compensation increases. Up to 25 percent of all filings may have some form of fraud. There are many possible causes, including misunderstandings, miscommunication, cost shifting from a non-occupational health care plan, employee resentment, non-efficient service providers, and outright fraud. The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that workers’ compensation fraud costs alone are in the billions. So in return, this cost is billed back to the employers in the form of billion dollar premiums.

Workers’ compensation laws are working against the employers. The laws are creating insensible incentives. The longer an injured employee is out of work, the more likely they will ride it out for a cash settlement. Even the small injuries that should only have the worker out for two or three days can be stretched into two or three weeks, or even more! Every workers’ compensation guideline has a waiting period. Typically, it runs about three to seven days before an injured employee becomes entitled to indemnification for lost wages. It can often be done on a retroactive basis to day one of the claim. For many low paid workers the “tax free” wage alternative is an acceptable lifestyle.

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One Employee Incident, Two Worker Compensation Claims?

Do you have any pregnant employees? If so, are you responsible for work related injuries to their unborn child? It is a delicate situation when it comes to injuries involving those in utero. In the late 1980s, there was a case involving a San Francisco Macy’s department store employee who complained to the company nurse of abdominal pain. The pain was misdiagnosed as gas and was later found to be a ruptured uterus. Even after pleas from the expectant mother, the ambulance was not called for 50 minutes and the delay was determined to be a main contributing factor to the severe brain damage and early demise (age 2) of the child.

The mother sued on behalf of her son but lost, because although Macy’s found that it was indeed negligent, the child was not an employee and therefore his surviving family could collect nothing.

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Prevent Injuries with Diet, Weight Management & Exercise

Most companies have injury prevention programs in place that will cover topics such as lifting, proper equipment or attire, but not often do these programs cover eating and exercise, which are important aspects of injury prevention.

We all know about eating healthy to keep out hearts strong and/or to lose weight and feel good. Most of us however, don’t take the time to think of eating as a form of injury prevention. Rock hard abs aren’t just for show. They can also help you to remain injury free.  Having a strong “core” will alleviate stress on the back, reducing back injuries. Engaging your “core” muscles in all of your activities (not just lifting) will help keep you strong and as injury free as possible. Think about flexing your abdominal muscles when you do things as mundane as getting out of your chair. You know you want to try it when you get off of the computer.

Staying at a healthy weight will also keep unwanted stress off of your joints. There is no lack of gravity, so you don’t need to worry about weighing yourself down. Have you ever seen a pick-up truck loaded down with a heavy load and thought “those poor shocks”? Well, it is the same thing for your joints. Any excess weight  that you might be carrying is going to work against you, and eventually break you down. More…

Accident Investigations: An Essential Tool in Every Work Comp Management Program

Performing accident investigations when an employee gets injured is an important step in carrying out your company’s work comp management program. The first reason that comes to many people’s minds for conducting an accident investigation is probably to prevent a fraudulent claim from being filed, but there are many other good reasons for conducting these investigations.

Accident investigations help to identify the root cause of the injury. Was an inadequate workstation to blame? Or, maybe a malfunctioning tool or machine? If it is found that one of these scenarios was the cause of the accident, they can be promptly corrected before another employee suffers a similar fate. Maybe the employee had a pre-existing problem with their injured body part. Or, maybe they were doing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing so there is no equipment that needs to be fixed.

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Are Work Comp Costs Really a Big Deal?

The system that was designed to provide medical care and wage replacement for workers who suffer work-related injuries or illness is straining to sustain itself. Rising claim costs and non-regulated reinsurance are contributing factors to the rising costs of work comp.

Today, workers’ comp accounts for one of the fastest growing labor costs. Premiums for workers’ comp have risen 50% nationwide in the last three years – the fastest pace in a decade according to the New York City-based Insurance Information Institute. It really is simple math when every year costs double due to too many claims lasting longer than expected. Some businesses are finding themselves being hit with back-to-back increases of 25% and 40%, even if these businesses are favorable in workplace accident rates. As a business, there is no way to budget for a 20% increase that turns out to be twice that number.

Workers’ Compensation costs have had an enormous impact on several businesses’ bottom line. Accidents simply cost money – not only through direct costs, such as medical and compensation expenses, but in employee morale and client respect as well. Indirect costs are hard to calculate, but if lost, these items can cost your business several times more than direct expenses.

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Showing Compassion for Employees on Disability Can Reduce Work Comp Costs

What happens when an employee gets injured while on the job and goes on temporary disability? They can’t come into work anymore and are forced to sit at home, or they’re in the hospital with almost no contact from anyone at work. In many cases, the only work-related person who they get to talk to is the claim adjuster. They become cut-off from their peers and supervisors.

Sadly, this kind of treatment often leads the employee to feel lost, scared, abandoned, and perhaps even angry. They begin to feel as if they are not wanted around and that their company doesn’t really care about them at all. In many cases, the result of such thinking will end up leading to attorney’s becoming involved and the employee ends up being out for far longer than would otherwise be necessary. This situation is neither beneficial to the company or the employee and most employees would rather it not come to that but feel that they have no other option.

Preventing this from happening can be very simple. All it takes is a simple phone call about once a week to follow up with the injured employee and ask how they are doing. They will be glad to hear from someone from work other than the claim adjuster and it is a good way to monitor the employee’s progress. Sometimes, the information that an employee reveals through conversation can help to better understand the notes from their doctor. A small gift such as flowers or a “get well soon” card is another nice gesture that may be extended to go that extra mile and really make the injured employee feel reassured that they are cared for and eager to return to work.

Cutting Work Time Loss can Save You Money!

One of the biggest causes of work comp costs is a lengthy time loss of work from a disability. If an employee was injured on Jan. 1st, and healed by Jan. 15th, then the employee should return to work on Jan. 15th – not June 15th or July 15th! Keeping your employees recovery time proportionate to the actual length of medical disability will help you save money.

There are several ways protect yourself from unnecessary work comp costs. Create or adopt a Transitional Duty Policy that requires participation when an employee is injured. Communicate this program to your workforce in a positive way so that it becomes part of the corporate culture. Creating a culture that promotes a safe environment improves confidence and awareness for your employees. Establish a goal to bring back injured workers faster. Develop a Health and Wellness Room program to help aid with transitional duty and safety re-education. Communicate with your Health and Wellness Room to talk about progress and obstacles that are preventing the injured employee from returning to work.

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Good Habits are Formed in Health and Wellness Rooms

Learning occurs when the brain creates a pathway of neurological activity through connections and repetition. When actions are repeated, your brain learns patterns of behavior and makes what we call a habit. Our brain acts similarly to a computer, whose cache memory stores frequently used information and makes it faster and easier to process. Fortunately, and sometimes unfortunately, once a habit is formed it is very hard to break.

Continuing the routine of rising for work and participating in a work environment preserves your employees’ daily habits. In the Health and Wellness Room, a full work week and daily schedule is maintained. This prevents a “slump” and/or the potential of developing bad habits.

Physical therapy and mental stimulation keep the mind and body active, all the while providing recuperation and bringing your employees back to the pre-injury workplace. Sometimes, even in better condition than they were prior to the injury. We encourage your employees to create new good habits that will follow them throughout their lives, professionally and personally.

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