The main key to reducing your workers’ compensation costs is more than just preventing accidents; it is having a sound safety program designed to improve as time goes on. A safety program that is compliant with OSHA standards can add up to major savings by reducing injuries and lowering the overall costs of Workers’ Compensation.
Developing an OSHA Standard Safety Program
There are five entry-level steps you can take to have a well-rounded safety program that produces a safe work environment, achieves OSHA compliance, reduces accidents and ultimately reduces workers’ compensation costs.
- Follow OSHA standards and requirements
- Integrate those programs into your daily business
- Do a thorough investigation of all injuries and illnesses that happen in the workplace.
- Provide safety training for your employees.
- Follow up on your programs and your work areas on a regular basis to see if improvement is needed.
Develop Programs Required by OSHA Standards
Aside from being a requirement, following OSHA standards is an excellent way to reduce the number of workplace injuries. Poorly developed, trained or implemented OSHA programs are to blame for a large percentage of injuries. Slips or trips often result from not keeping walkways clear, not using personal protective equipment may result in cuts, and poor lifting techniques often end up in back injuries.
Safety Programs Are Part of Your Daily Duties
In order to be successful, a safety program must be implemented, it cannot just exist on paper. Your plan must be communicated to employees and a culture that inspires and rewards people to do their best must ensue.
Any new program – safety, quality or other – lives and dies with the frontline supervisor. If the supervisor believes in and implements the safety program, it can succeed. However, if the supervisor does not buy into the though behind a safety program, it could become a drain on resources and energies. Providing supervisors with knowledge and skills through training is critical to the success of any program.
A solid OSHA safety program is just the beginning. Successful safety programs focus on being proactive. Accident investigations provide an excellent source of information on real or potential issues present in the workplace.
Investigate All Injuries and Illnesses Thoroughly
Workers’ compensation is designed to recompense employees for injuries or illnesses that arise from or out of the course of employment. This should not come as a surprise, but increasing claims drive up workers’ compensation costs. To reduce those costs, you must simply reduce your accidents. And the ability to reduce accidents is significantly enhanced when those accidents are fully investigated instead of simply being reported.
Accident reports are historical records only citing facts, while accident investigations go deeper to find the root cause and make improvements. Businesses that stop rising workers’ compensation costs have an effective accident investigation process that flushes out the root cause of the problem. Unless the root cause is discovered, recommendations for improvement will remain fruitless. Again, training proves beneficial because a supervisor skilled in incident analysis is a better problem solver for all types of production-related issues, not just safety.
All accidents should be investigated to find out what went wrong and why. Some may suggest investigating every accident is a bit over the top and only those that incur significant costs are worthy of scrutiny. But ask yourself this question: If you only investigated serious quality concerns instead of every little deviation, would your quality program still be effective? Companies with solid quality programs investigate and resolve every deviation from quality standards.
If your emphasis is only on those incidents that have to be recorded on the OSHA 300 log, you close your eyes to the biggest accident category: first aid-only incidents. Many companies get upset about recordable incidents or lost time accidents because of the significant costs involved, but they don’t realize that the small costs and high numbers of first aid-only incidents really add up.
Statistics show that for every 100 accidents, 10 will be recordable and one a lost-time incident. If you investigate only recordable incidents or lost time accidents, 89 go unnoticed. Would you consider a quality program that allows an 89 percent failure rate successful? Reducing serious accidents means you must reduce your overall rate of all accidents – including first aid-only incidents. That only happens when every incident is fully investigated to find the root cause, and remedial actions are identified and integrated into the daily operation.
Training and Auditing for Continuous Improvement
The final steps focus on training and auditing your program for continuous improvement. Training plays a significant role in safety and in reducing workers’ compensation costs. The goal of training is to develop competent people who have the knowledge, skill and understanding to perform assigned job responsibilities.
Competence, more than anything else, will improve all aspects of your business and drive down costs. Supervisors must have the knowledge and ability to integrate every safety program into their specific areas of responsibility. Every employee must know what is expected of them when it comes to implementing safe work procedures. Once the programs are developed and implemented, they must be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure they are still relevant and effective.
This might require a significant change in how you manage your safety program, but if your workers’ compensation rates are high, it may be time to make this leap.
- Studies indicate there is a return on investment and that companies see direct bottom-line benefits with a properly designed, implemented and integrated safety program.
- A competency-based safety program is compliant with OSHA requirements and therefore reduces the threat of OSHA fines.
- A competency-based safety program lowers accidents, and fewer accidents lower workers’ compensation costs. When incidents do occur, a competency-based safety program fully evaluates the issue and finds the root cause to prevent reoccurrence and provides a workplace that is free from recognized hazards.
- A safer workplace creates better morale and improves employee retention. Auditing keeps your programs fresh and effective and drives continuous improvement.
- A competency-based program produces people who are fully engaged in every aspect of their job and are satisfied and fulfilled producing high-quality goods and services.
We Are Here to Help You!
ERM Insurance Brokers is committed to helping you establish a strong safety program that minimizes your workers’ compensation exposures. Contact us today at (949) 222-0444 to learn more about our OSHA compliance, safety program, and accident investigation tools and resources.