One of the most expensive costs for nearly any business is that of workers’ compensation insurance. When faced with frequent or severe claims, an employer’s experience mod rate can go through the roof, resulting in higher premiums. Work comp claims also generate numerous indirect costs, such as covering for an employee’s absence, lowered morale and productivity, and copycat claims. Taking steps to prevent accidents and injuries is one critical way to reduce the cost of work comp claims. But it goes beyond your safety initiatives. Your hiring process can actually be an important first step toward preventing work comp claims.
Here are some hiring practices that can help stop work comp claims before they even walk through your door.
Accurate, well-written job descriptions are a hallmark of employers with effective injury management programs. Being as specific as possible in your descriptions can help prevent unqualified workers from ending up in the position. Your job descriptions need to clearly outline the physical demands of the position, including repetitive motion analysis, and the essential functions of the job. Be clear about the physical demands of the job upfront when hiring for the position to assist unqualified candidates to self-eliminate from consideration, and have prospective candidates sign off on the descriptions to signify that they can perform the essential functions.
Having a solid job description can also be helpful when used as a tool for targeted recruitment, employee development and engagement, and organizational competence. When used as a starting point for goal-setting and professional development, a job description becomes a valuable asset in improving your human capital, not just a document.
Once you have them drafted, it’s important to keep your job descriptions up to date. Updating your job descriptions when a job’s duties change is a best practice for any organization.
A study by the University of Massachusetts estimates the 10% of employees who are physically unable to safely perform their jobs account for 75% of injuries in the workplace. It’s in the best interest of both employers and workers to make sure job candidates are physically capable of safely performing the jobs for which they are applying. Approximately 20 years ago, employers began conducting physical exams on employees post-offer, pre-hire. While these exams involve a cost and can’t be conducted until a conditional job offer has been made, if you partner with the right facility, the expense can be reasonably low, and the information you learn can be invaluable.
Physical capability testing is another option. Physical capability testing as a part of an organization’s hiring practices documents a job candidate’s physical skills and abilities related to a specific job. Typically an employer will work with a physical or occupational therapist to identify the physical requirements of particular jobs and develop tests to assess those requirements for each job candidate.
Employers should be sure to test or assess candidates who make it to this stage equally, including any internal candidates, since choosing to only conduct the exams on certain candidates provides less effective comparative data and can potentially be discriminatory. For more information on this topic, read our article Physical capability testing before hiring — benefits and potential pitfalls.
In addition to physical capability tests, other types of pre-hire assessments allow the employer to evaluate the applicant. Personality assessments, if done correctly, can assist in finding a better fit for the organization and even for the position itself. An effective assessment could help you identify candidates that are less likely to follow rules (such as safety rules), or are more likely to be malingerers (thereby prolonging work comp claims). See our previous article, Using personality assessments to help your employees (and organization) succeed to learn more about using personality assessments in the workplace.
To further explore the strategies mentioned in this article, as well as other tactics, register for our upcoming webinar “How to avoid hiring your next work comp claim.”
Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting provides a risk management team of professionals with over 50 years of combined experience to help our clients control their workers’ compensation costs. We work closely with your management team to implement proven programs that help prevent and manage claims. Contact us for more information or assistance with your work comp program.
Mark specializes in workers’ compensation in manufacturing, construction, healthcare and public sector.
Mark specializes in workers’ compensation in manufacturing, construction, healthcare and public sector. He is one of Minnesota’s 23 Certified Work Comp Advisors and named to the first agency advisory council for one of the largest self-insured funds in Minnesota. One of 33 Certified School Risk Managers in Minnesota, Mark is a long time speaker and educator on the topic of workers’ compensation. Mark works with employers to help them control and minimize the impact of claims, thus driving down the experience mod and adding to clients’ bottom lines.
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