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June 2, 2015

7 Ways to a Better Work Comp Plan

Summary:

The seven will improve your work comp program with little effort while enhancing workers’ respect for their jobs and increasing cooperation.

Photo Courtesy of Richard Rutter

Although some improvements in workers’ compensation claim results require large investments, resources and complex implementation phases, others require more commitment than dollar investment and are simple in execution yet sublime in positive impact. The seven suggestions that follow are field-tested and proven effective. These seven will not only improve the results of your work comp program but will enhance workers’ respect for their jobs and increase cooperative attitudes. Best of all, these seven can be initiated quickly and with moderate to low effort:

Quick-Tip: Seven Suggestions + Negligible Resources = Zero Excuses

1) Before and after each shift, supervisors can ask if anyone is hurt. This is easy to implement where crews already have before and after meetings. By asking the question, supervisors remind employees that proper work comp reporting is a job requirement. The question also discourages workers who arrive with an existing problem from making it worse on the job or blaming it on the job. This can also reduce late reports. If any injury or illness is identified, then it can be managed immediately.

2) Provide injured employees with a “rights and responsibilities” manual that is branded with the company logo. Many state WC offices provide adequate templates for this purpose. The manual serves as a reminder to employees that the WC process is connected to their employer and their job.

3) Devise a simple monthly WC/safety summary report that goes to executive management. Place a copy on public bulletin boards so staff is aware that executives monitor the related programs. This promotes the seriousness of WC and safety.

4) Work with your third-party administrator (TPA) or insurer to institute a “no fill” list of dangerous narcotic prescriptions that will automatically trigger a refusal and review by appropriate medical resources. Most claim organizations have such lists already. It is a matter of demanding this level of service from your claims or managed care vendor.

5) Require supervisors to make weekly calls to employees out on temporary total disability (TTD) and have weekly chats with employees on modified duty. This would be a simple general talk to ask how they are doing and if they need anything. This is a powerful motivator and reminder of the employee’s value and the fact that a return to their regular job is anticipated. It can also identify problems in the claim that need to be addressed.

6) Write a simple standard “Return to Work (RTW) Expectation” letter that will immediately be given to every claimant’s treating doctor. This will cause doctors to recognize your transitional duty program, understand their expected role and enhance cooperation. The letter will reduce the likelihood of a claimant’s refusal to participate in early RTW and reduce the reliance of doctors on a claimant’s version of RTW opportunities.

7) Make employees aware of WC costs in personal terms. “Dollars” are not as meaningful as referring to units produced or operating time. For example, if employees are aware they work the first 45 minutes of every shift or produce a certain number of pieces per shift, week or month just to cover WC costs they will relate to the problem. Track costs creatively to have impact.

Give these a try. Commit to changing the WC perspective in your organization. My experience says it will pay off.

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About the Author

Barry Thompson is a 35-year-plus industry veteran. He founded Risk Acuity in 2002 as an independent consultancy focused on workers’ compensation. His expert perspective transcends status quo to build highly effective employer-centered programs.

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