We’ve told you often in these pages about various workplace safety and claims management techniques, but sometimes it’s good to learn from the first-hand experiences of other employers.
The National Underwriter insurance trade publication recently profiled three companies that had reduced their workers’ comp costs using a combination of claims management and safety initiatives.
You can use their experience to apply similar programs at your company.
SMS Holdings’ experience
This housekeeping and maintenance service provider did not roll out a one-size-fits-all approach to safety at is multiple locations in 46 states.
The company instead took a silo approach to improving safety by having its front line staff and their supervisors come up with programs to enhance safety at each work site.
It created safety committees at each of its locations that hold pre-shift safety huddles. Site managers also host weekly safety talks with employees that address hazards that are unique to the location, near misses or more general safety rules.
The company also started a safety-tracking program that provides a forum for managers to exchange ideas on how injuries could have been prevented.
SMS Holdings revised its injury reporting system, standardized claims instructions and forms and provided a claims checklist for its managers. Also, the company provides injured workers with a packet that outlines the process for handling their workers’ comp claim and includes all the forms and contact information they need.
The company says its claims litigation rate fell to 11% of all claims in 2015, from 18% in 2014 since implementing the changes. The number of claims dropped more than 14%, and claims that required lost time from work plunged 52% – all while the payroll has increased by 14%.
Seaboard Foods LLC
After noting a strong uptick in claims, this self-insured pork producer started working more closely with its third-party administrator, which handles its workers’ comp claims, to mine the company’s injury claims for data.
Seaboard, a 5,000-employee company in a small Texas town with a local network of providers, doesn’t always include the required specialist.
The company now ensures that every injured worker receives the appropriate specialized medical care right at the time of injury, even if that means that the employee see a specialist in another town. They can drive themselves and get reimbursed for mileage, but if they can’t, then the company arranges transportation.
Seaboard also started looking for and contracting with new service providers – like physical therapy and pharmacy management firms – that could demonstrate through data how they are able to reduce costs.
Finally, the company started holding quarterly meetings with its senior leadership, workers’ comp team, third-party administrator and workers’ compensation attorney to review claims. They set goals and objectives for closing claims as early as possible and identifying particular claims that the company would try to close prior to the next quarter.
To address injuries sustained in the cutting and packing lines, the company started conducting job-demand analyses to identify how employees get hurt doing certain tasks, and then evaluating workers to make sure they are fit for the work they’ve been assigned.
Finally, it started a “work conditioning program” that helps workers get their bodies in shape to deal with the physical demands of repetitive motions they encounter in the workplace.
All of this has paid off, and between 2012 and 2015 reduced Seaboard’s annual claims numbers by 46%. In addition, claims costs dropped 69% in that period.
Stater Bros. Markets
This supermarket chain started a new program focused on education and injury prevention for all of its employees, be they cashiers at its 168 stores or workers at its 2-million acre warehouse and distribution center in San Bernardino, Calif.
Some changes were small, like requiring all employees who use knives to wear a chain-link metal mesh glove on the hand opposite the one wielding the knife. This reduced cutting injuries from an average of 200 a year to none.
The company reviewed all of the clinics its injured workers are sent to, identifying and selecting facilities based on level of customer service and cleanliness.
The company also started a training regimen that rotates from store to store to train staff and low-level managers on injury prevention, focusing mainly on avoiding sprains and strains – the most common injuries in its stores.
For its warehouse employees, Stater introduced a program called “Ice Pack” in which physical therapists are available onsite at its corporate campus to help employees with taping, wrapping and icing parts of the body to help them do their jobs more efficiently or recover after a shift.
Finally, to address rising prescription drug expenses, it conducted a claims review to identify problematic prescription patterns. It met with the health care providers its employees use and worked with pain-management doctors to find alternatives to prescribing so many drugs, which employees often are not taking.
Since it started this program, Stater has reduced its prescription drug costs by $1 million over two years.