Spending on workplace safety and health management can yield future cost savings, according to a new white paper published by AmTrust Financial Services, a workers’ compensation insurer.
The direct and indirect employer costs of an employee injury are examined in the report, “ROI of Safety: How to Create a Long-Term Profitable Workplace Safety Program.” The white paper also includes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Safety Council (NSC), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as findings from AmTrust’s “2018 Restaurant Risk Report.”
Direct costs include the medical expenses and wage replacement in workers’ compensation cases. Indirect costs can include lost time and hiring and training replacement workers.
A safety program’s financial return on investment shows up in increased productivity, savings from fewer injuries, and lower workers’ compensation costs. However, AmTrust acknowledged these savings may take time to realize. Workers’ compensation premiums do not decrease immediately.
Restaurant Risk Report
The average cost of workers’ compensation claims in the restaurant industry varies by geographic region, injury type, lost time, restaurant type, and season, AmTrust found in its “2018 Restaurant Risk Report.” AmTrust’s research turned up the following trends:
- Injuries to wrists and hands caused the most lost time, averaging 265 lost days of work.
- The highest numbers of restaurant workers’ compensation accidents are reported in June, July, and August.
- Slips and falls account for 4.5 times more in paid losses than punctures and cuts.
AmTrust’s Advice for Employers
AmTrust’s advice for employers included establishing a safety and health management program that conforms to OSHA guidelines, providing safety orientation for new hires, and training managers to control the costs of employee injuries.
An effective safety and health management program should include:
- Stressing the importance of safety to the company’s operations to workers and managers;
- Performing a worksite analysis to identify and assess hazards on the premises or at jobsites;
- Implementing administrative and engineering controls and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect employees, as well as enforcing company safety policies and testing employees to ensure they understand their training; and
- Training workers, supervisors, and managers so everyone recognizes workplace hazards and is familiar with effective controls and training supervisors and managers in how to correct workers.
Safety rules are an important part of an effective safety and health management program. A safety committee can develop a basic safety manual and supplemental safety rules by performing worksite analyses and consulting guidance from the company’s workers’ compensation insurer, local safety councils, and OSHA outreach programs.
Orientation for new hires can be critical—40 percent of injured employees have been on the job less than a year, according to OSHA data. AmTrust offered a list of “The 10 ‘Musts’ of Safety Orientation Programs,” which includes:
- Know what to do in an emergency situation.
- Follow established rules, procedures, and safety signs.
- Wear required PPE.
- Handle hazardous materials according to instructions.
- Operate equipment correctly.
- Avoid taking safety risks.
- Remove, repair, or report safety hazards right away.
- Report accidents promptly.
- Contribute to work zone safety.
- Take training seriously.
Controlling Employee Injury Costs
Any effective safety program also must control the costs of employee injuries. AmTrust encouraged employers to train managers in cost control techniques that include:
- Having the injured worker seek treatment from the appropriate medical provider—at the nearest medical facility in emergency cases or by calling 911 or the designated local emergency number;
- Developing procedures for nonemergency cases that comply with state-specific rules in how initial care is selected;
- Reporting the incident to your insurance carrier as soon as you have knowledge of it;
- Not discarding any equipment involved in the accident until you discuss it with your claims adjuster;
- Providing time for other employees who witnessed the injury to speak to insurance personnel; and
- Keeping the lines of communication open with the injured employee, showing concern for the injured employee, and making sure the employee knows that a job is waiting upon his or her return.
A well-developed return-to-work and modified-duty program is critical in containing the costs of workers’ compensation claims, as well as limiting employee lost time. Programs may consist of modified duty, restricted duty, gradual acclimation, or total accommodation.