Managing Workers’ Compensation and Claims

Question:

I just took over responsibility for managing workers’ compensation claims at my company. Where do I start?

Answer:

If you are new to the responsibilities of managing the workers’ compensation process, it can be overwhelming. There are responsibilities that both the employer and employee have in the process. Compliance laws vary from state to state, so make sure that you are familiar with your state requirements. Compliance is very important, but it’s far from the only thing that matters when it comes to true operational excellence.

It takes an integrated risk management strategy to ensure your organization is performing safely, efficiently and profitably. When proactive measures are implemented consistently, accountability is shared across the entire organization. And, when this is combined with a transparent process for when an injury occurs, an organization can achieve operational excellence, improve results, improve employee engagement, and the company reputation will also benefit.

The Basics

Outline Your Policies

As a first step, outline the process and expectations at your company for what happens when an injury occurs at work, medical care for the injured, a process for completing the claims such as:

  • First Report of Injury
  • Accident investigation
  • Time away from work
  • Accommodations
  • Return-to-work process
  • Training requirements
  • Communication methods and frequency
  • Employee responsibilities
  • Preventing injuries

Build a Consistent Process

Once outlined, you need a uniform and consistent process for executing these policies and procedures. Many companies have had challenges with managing workers’ compensation claims as traditionally the forms to be completed have been paper-based and then emailed or shared on an intranet. Many companies are moving away from this due to the challenges of consistency of information, accuracy, timeliness, siloed information, and using incident reporting and safety software for data collection to solve these challenges.

Simply put, using technology to track the data and information, that is—makes it more easily accessible and it helps to make your programs more effective. These systems help you get the reporting and insights that you need quickly and easily to make improvements and understand your most vulnerable areas.

Prevent Injuries In The First Place

Much like healthcare’s focus on preventive care, Environmental Health & Safety has been adopting processes to prevent incidents. If you keep workers safe, you will have fewer accidents and reduce your workers’ comp exposure. This is the secret to being successful in your role in handling workers’ compensation responsibilities.

A safe workplace includes basics such as:

  • Providing and using proper equipment and personal safety gear
  • Identifying potential hazards regularly and resolving them quickly
  • Reporting and addressing unsafe conditions
  • Providing health and safety training on safe work practices
  • A process to report and investigate accidents

Not only is proper equipment, training and processes important, but establishing a culture that has a commitment to health and safety is key. This includes creating a supportive work environment that makes everyone accountable for safety and accident prevention.

As the owner of the process, it’s important that you ensure that all supervisors and/or managers know that they are responsible for the safety of employees under their direction as they can take an active part in preventing injuries.

Not only is injury prevention important for the health and viability of your employees, but it saves substantial costs – both direct and indirect. Costs of managing workers’ compensation claims are not only the direct costs of sick and/or disability pay, but the indirect costs associated with lost productivity, replacement costs, and overtime.

Technology Can Help

With anything, in order to make an overwhelming process successful, you need to provide the right tools. Easy to use software, like iReportSource, allow your workers to collect information in the field on a proactive and reactive basis. The ability to complete safety audits, site inspections and/or allowing workers in the field to submit safety suggestions in a real-time manner will help reinforce a culture of safety accountability as it’s simple to see who, when and what was submitted. And what’s easier than a few taps on a mobile phone?

Your role in managing workers’ compensation is critical to the success of the business. Don’t let the compliance and day-to-day requirements overwhelm you. It can be intimidating in the beginning, but there are plenty of tools, like iReportSource that can help you be successful.

The barrier to operational excellence in safety and workers’ compensation is lower than ever. What’s stopping you?

A special thanks to iReportSource for sharing their insights on safety in the workplace. For more information on iReportSource contact Nancy Koors at nkoors@ireportsource.com or 513-442-8595. iReportSource allows you to avoid complacency and manage risk, all while helping you to reinforce behavior-based safety practices.

 

strategic HR inc. understands your concerns with the well-being of your employees. We offer expertise in health, safety and security to cover any need you may have from analyzing your safety programs to making sure you are OSHA compliant to proactively ensuring employee wellness. Please visit our Health, Safety & Security page for more information on any of these services.