White Paper

Two Ways to Bring Down Workplace Injury Costs

A focus on prevention can dramatically cut the number of on-the-job injuries suffered every year.
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White Paper Summary

Every employer wants to keep their workers safe and healthy. But some of the latest data suggests their efforts are falling short, and it comes at a steep cost.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 2.9 workplace injuries occurred for every 100 full-time employees in 2017, totaling about 3.3 million nationally. Collectively, workplace injuries cost the U.S. economy roughly $52 billion to $60 billion per year — that’s at least $1 billion per week.

The impact comes not just from expensive medical treatment, but from absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased employee turnover as well.

“According to BLS data, 30 percent of injured workers are placed off-duty, while 23 percent are placed on restricted duty or transferred to another position. That comes with replacement costs. New workers have to be hired and trained; turnover impedes productivity and impacts employee engagement,” said Giovanni Gallara, senior vice president of Therapy and Ancillary Services at Concentra, the nation’s largest occupational health provider. What makes those numbers even more shocking is that many workplace injuries can be prevented. High injury persistence demonstrates that standard safety training may not be enough.

“Employers need to prioritize injury prevention for the sake of their workers’ health, and their own financial health,” Gallara said. “That requires taking a hard look at the role that safety plays in your day-to-day operation and identifying the injury drivers where the employer can proactively make an impact.”

Here’s how employers can begin establishing a true injury prevention program:

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To learn more about Concentra, please visit their website.

Concentra® is America’s leading provider of occupational medicine, delivering work-related injury care, physical therapy, and workforce health services from more than 520 locations in 44 states.

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]