Economy Down…Workers’ Compensation Claims Down…Time to Catch Up

A large staffing firm has watched workers’ compensation claims plummet in lock-step with the stock market. Has your claim frequency decreased? Maybe the decrease in claims has occurred because production has slowed. Or, maybe folks with minor strains are afraid to rock the boat by filing a claim. This particular staffing firm has seen a much greater decrease in the number of minor claims, which might support the latter hypothesis.

Whatever the cause, employers have a good opportunity to review their safety programs. Instead of running down information for a claim adjuster, we can add value by making sure the programs are up-to-date with current regulations and current operations.

Safety programs are more than binders. They must be living documents that continuously support production activities in a proactive organization.


Leading Your Company Tribe Back to Productivity

I recently read Tribes, by Seth Godin and I found many of his insights relevant to workplace wellness. Here’s how I see the company tribe impacted by an injury.

Humans have a desire to belong. We crave membership in a group and we’ll go out of our way to find it. Groups easily come together around a common goal and if the goal is ambiguous, financial incentives will keep us engaged. With some basic leadership skills a manager can turn this scenario into a success.

On the other hand, it takes effort to break tribal bonds. The cohesion among a group requires force and persistence to break. Dehumanization, de-individuation, and direct threats to a member’s livelihood are tools that have been used to destroy tribes since human history began. Unfortunately, this gauntlet is what many employees must face when confronting a workplace injury.


E-Mod: Know it. Understand it. Reduce it.

Workers’ compensation insurance is a little complex, at times. Finding ways to save on workers’ compensation costs requires innovation on the prevention side, and a little savvy on the financial side.

A key factor for determining the amount of premium you will pay is the Experience Modifier (E-Mod). This is the multiplier applied to your manual premium rate, which determines how much premium you will be charged. If you are self-insured or have a high-deductible plan, your equivalent of the E-Mod is the Loss Development Factor (LDF).

Your injury prevention programs are the first line of defense. Decreasing the frequency of claims has a big impact on the E-Mod. Proof:Positive can help your organization drive claim frequency down through their Injury Prevention Programs, Ergonomics Evaluations and Safety Training. Investing a small amount in prevention can pay big dividends each year at policy renewal time.

It is also important to work with the right professionals once a claim has occurred. By utilizing health care professionals that understand the concepts of early return-to-work and streamlining the claim process, you can greatly reduce the severity of the claim. By delivering appropriate care and re-introducing the employee to the workplace in a timely manner, Proof:Positive helps “cut the tail off” of workers’ compensation claims. This will help drive your E-Mod down, as well.

By viewing just the workers’ compensation finance costs, the ROI on the prevention/claim management investment is compelling. If productivity increases are considered, these investments become imperative. Contact Proof:Positive to capture these savings, today!

Manage Hiring Risks in an Economic Downturn

The current economic turmoil brings challenges to businesses, beyond decreased sales and restrictive credit requirements. While businesses are struggling to secure credit lines and doggedly watching their accounts receivable, individuals are fighting to make ends meet as well. With companies downsizing and making adjustments, for what may be a long recovery, many people are finding themselves looking for jobs. Employers must be very wary when hiring employees, especially in a down economy.

Tough economic times have been shown to correlate with increased violent crime and increased drug abuse. Not surprisingly, these two social ills are often related. At no other time is it more important to conduct pre-employment and post-injury drug screens than during down economic cycles. Poor personal decisions by the individual need not translate into poor personnel decisions for the employer, if a smart drug screening program is in place.

Drug screening technology now allows instant results, without the need for a urine specimen. Many tests do not require collection in a clinical setting or by clinical personnel. With such quick and convenient methodologies, employers have an excellent opportunity to avoid the dangers of workplace drug abuse.

Proof:Positive can implement a drug screening program for your organization, now. Contact Proof:Positive to help manage the increasing risks of violence and drug abuse in the current economic climate.

Medical Network Management – Active vs. Passive

Health care providers come in all stripes and the quality of care can vary greatly. Relying solely on your insurance carrier or TPA (third-party administrator) network can be costly. These networks are built by finding providers who will agree to a discounted reimbursement rate, in exchange for more referrals. Some of these providers see very few patients in the workers’ compensation system, and therefore, may not understand the role of early return-to-work in the employee’s recovery.

It’s important to work closely with providers that understand the workers’ compensation system and who can support an early return-to-work initiative, such as, Proof:Positive’s Health and Wellness Room model. Provider network discounts are of little value if the treatment regimen drags on…and on. Professionally-managed Health and Wellness Rooms hasten patient recovery and return-to-work by supporting treatment adherence and improving employee motivation.

Proof:Positive can help you identify providers who support an early return-to-work philopsophy. Contact Proof:Positive today.

Is Daytime TV Addictive?

Are Oprah or Jerry Springer offering addictive content in their television shows? Is this one of the reasons lost-time workers’ compensation claims can get out of control?

OK, maybe it’s not Oprah’s fault. There are complex psycho-social factors at work when an individual is off work, nursing an injury, with a reduced income. Managing these factors can help keep the individual out of a costly slump (costly to the employee and costly to the employer).

Every day an injured employee is away from work, the likelihood that they will return to work decreases, which is why it is important to have an early return-to-work program (ERTW) in place – to ensure that employees can recover in a safe and supportive environment. By providing access to an ERTW program you take an active role in your employees’ recovery, which benefits both the employee and the employer.

Proof:Positive has successfully integrated Health and Wellness Rooms into employer operations, supporting injured employees and saving companies money by effectively reducing the cost of work comp claims and returning injured workers to work quickly and safely. Contact Proof:Positive to learn how we can help you leave day-time TV for your competitors.

Workers’ Compensation is Not Insurance

Too many employers believe that workers’ compensation is insurance. Premium rates, experience modifiers, claim reserves…this is not workers’ compensation. This is just a way to finance it.

Workers’ compensation was designed to ensure that injured employees have access to medical care and salary indemnification for work-related injuries. This system was established at a time when some employers maintained hazardous workplaces and abdicated their responsibilities to the injured worker.

Times have changed and our workplaces are much safer. But, many employers still neglect their duty to the injured worker when they do no more than purchase a workers’ compensation policy. Statute requires a system, not a policy.

So what goes into a workers’ compensation system?


Safety Programs – For a Healthy Balance Sheet

The quality of an organization’s safety programs forecasts an employees’ likelihood of entering the workers’ compensation system. The time and resources invested in enforcing safe work practices reflect the employer’s commitment, not only to guarding an employee from workplace hazards, but to protecting them from the hazards of our workers’ compensation system.

Carefully-crafted programs embed the standards for a safe workplace into daily operations. Successful programs begin with employee selection, protection of employees through training and hazard controls, engage employees in the process, and support the employee in their return to work, should they become injured. A safety program with this scope, protects an injured employee from a sometimes arbitrary and disabling workers’ compensation system.

Strong safety programs are the foundation upon which supportive and enriching tools can be provided to the injured employee. This is also the bedrock upon which substantial cost savings and productivity gains are built. Successful companies have already discovered the value of a strong safety program. In fact, it is rare that an organization enjoys high margins and strong revenue, in absence of a strong safety program.

Building a strong safety program begins with management commitment. If an organization lacks in-depth knowledge of workplace safety, or needs an objective assessment of their current program, a comprehensive review is in order. Proof Positive will develop a blueprint for safety program success.

Remember: Safety program quality is a proxy for balance sheet health.

Social Capital – Funding the Trust in Workers’ Compensation

The workers’ compensation system is filled with complex relationships and competing agendas. It can be confusing or even exasperating for an employee who must navigate this system alone. Employees need an advocate they can rely on while in the workers’ compensation system.

The employer must be that advocate.

By investing in prevention and early return-to-work systems, an employer can create social capital – the trust or ‘good will’ needed to maintain relationships – even in difficult situations. The key is to select a talented employee health partner. Proof:Positive can help you make these systems your own, by involving employees during every step. Engaging employees in prevention and the return-to-work process builds trust and shuts down the avenues for over-treatment and litigation.

Ask yourself this question: Do we give a F.I.G. about our injured employees? Use this mnemonic device to assess your organization’s ability to maintain trust when an employee becomes injured and enters the workers’ compensation system.


Know Your Work – The Benefit of a Physical Demand Analysis

Successfully managing the return-to-work process requires employers to plug a gap in their knowledge. During our management careers, many of us have examined the supply chain, manufacturing process and distribution process. We think we know our business and the work that happens there.

We often don’t.

We don’t know what is required of the employees at the loading dock. We don’t know how difficult it might be to operate the high-torque impact wrench. We can only guess at the physical demands required to get the parts to the manufacturing line.

We don’t need to guess anymore. More…