Workers compensation isn’t just good protection for your business. In most states, it’s also a requirement.
To receive a contractors license in California, you first have to prove you’ve got workers comp coverage if you have any employees. For some contractors - like roofers - proof of workers comp coverage is required whether you have employees or not.
And when it comes to helping employees get through a difficult time following an on-the-job injury, workers comp helps cover costs for medical and disability expenses, wages lost during recovery, as well as funeral expenses in the event of a fatality.
You want to stay compliant and take care of your employees, but don’t want to break the bank doing it.
Here are 3 tips that may lower your workers’ comp rates.
1. Establish Pre-employment Vetting and Testing
When you are filling a position you want to make sure that you not only get the right fit for your business but that your new hire will work safely and responsibly.
Safe driving records, drug tests, and favorable recommendations from previous employers can help you determine if a new hire will help you avoid workers’ comp claims. But that’s not all.
Once you’ve zeroed in on the candidate you’d like to hire, do your due diligence by:
- Running background checks
- Checking driving records
- Performing drug tests
- Contacting references
- Confirming employment history
- Substantiating licenses and certifications
Know that you are hiring responsible employees that will help keep the workplace safe and you’re hiring workers that will be assets, not liabilities.
Be sure that you hire workers based on their experience and ability, and then verify both.
2. Prioritize Safety Culture
The fewer workplace accidents that occur, the fewer claims you make, and the lower your workers’ comp rates.
Making safety culture the cornerstone of your business offers many different benefits. Holding your employees to a safety standard that benefits the business and them creates an atmosphere of shared respect and care for one another.
Here are a few guidelines to help you establish and maintain safety culture at the core of your business:
Give safety the top priority it deserves.
Improve morale and productivity while lowering insurance rates.
Train, train, and train again.
Assure that you’re staying current with industry standards, that employees are retaining information, and that safety is at the top of everyone’s mind.
Let your employees help take ownership of workplace safety by encouraging them to be part of safety committees, establishing guidelines, and putting corrective action into motion.
You don’t want to create an environment where your employees fear report accident or unsafe behavior.
Inspect job sites daily.
Before and after each work day, assure that job site conditions are safe and that possible hazards are addressed.
Hold daily safety meetings.
Go over directives for the work day and the safety precautions that apply to work at hand.
Ensuring all of your employees know safety expectations, are invested in fulfilling them, and are keeping them at the forefront of their mind will help you reduce worker injuries and workers’ comp claims.
3. Develop a Return To Work Program
A return to work program can help you retain experienced workers and reduce turnover while fostering better employee relationships and improving productivity.
And it can also play an important role in helping you save money on workers’ comp rates.
The goal of a return to work program is to help get injured employees back on the job as soon as they are able, for the benefit of both the worker and the company.
An effective RTW program must include written procedures which outline the steps that your company will take with injured employees, which you should then make clear to all workers.
The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment suggests that a RTW program include:
1. Evaluate existing jobs and working conditions by:
- Identifying essential – and non-essential – functions of jobs within your company to know what functions of each job can be removed.
- Identify which short-term tasks – that exist outside of an employees regular job – could allow an injured employee to return to the workplace while they are still in the process of recovering enough to perform their normal tasks.
- Evaluating working conditions while encouraging employees to provide input about ways to reduce injuries on the job.
2. Ensure that everyone is properly assuming their roles and responsibilities by:
- Selecting suitable physicians that will work with your workers’ comp insurer.
- Training managers and supervisors on the return-to-work process.
- Assuring that employees are aware of both their rights and their obligations in the RTW process.
By hiring experienced and safe workers, encouraging a culture of safety, and expediting employee’s return to work, you can make your business more attractive to insurers and keep your rates where you want them to be.