Safety, Workers Compensation

Zero Injuries: Possible or Impossible? - Part 3

9/3/2019 | Ray Gage

If you’ve been following along these last three weeks, thank youIf you’re new here, welcome and I’ll link the previous articles within this post for you.  A couple weeks ago, I introduced the concept of zero workplace injuries and to recap, I gave the following ideas on where to start on the quest towards achieving that goal:  

Make sure you are hiring the right employees.  By ‘right employees’, I mean make sure you verify the people you hire are capable of performing the essential job functions. 

  • Know how to spot a fraudulent claim and take steps towards preventing that practice. 
  • Change the way you present, implement and reward safety. 
  • Track everything!  Data is king but you can’t utilize it if you don’t have it at your fingertips.  
  • Invest in the health and well-being of your employees.  You have maintenance programs for critical components, processes and fleet management.  How are you investing in your most important asset? 

The focus last week was about the data.  Why is data so important?  What data should you be collecting? How can you utilize that data to reduce and ultimately eliminate workplace injuries?  The topic for this week is safety and how you can present, implement and reward safety more effectively within your organization. 

In a recent study by Forbes Insights and The Hanover Insurance Group, small business owners identified that employee safety training is the most valuable risk management service to their business.  In addition, one-third of the small business owners surveyed are either not offered risk management resources or are unaware of the risk management services available to them through their insurance agency. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think that any employer should ignore the safety or risk management resources that are available to them, but I personally have a problem with the way those services are presented to employers by the majority of large, commercial lines focused insurance agencies and brokers.  I also believe that survey results can be skewed by the respondents not understanding the question or answering a question in a way that doesn’t reflect their true feelings (i.e. multiple choice). 

Quality risk management services are offered by all good insurance companies free-of-charge to their policyholders.  In addition, guess where employers can find guidance on developing the required OSHA programs for their businesses?  OSHA.  That’s right, OSHA has an extensive library including templates for every program that they require.  If they are going to cite you for not doing something correctly, doesn’t it make sense they would have the information you need to do it correctly in the first place? 

Many large employers will ‘off-load’ their safety and risk management processes to an outside safety firm or from their insurance agency’s internal loss control department, sometimes for thousands or tens-of-thousands of dollars each year, depending on the size of the employer, in addition to the amount they pay to purchase their insurance policies.  My question is why would anyone do that?  Is safety a critical process?  Of course it is!  How many other critical processes do most business owners ‘off-load’?  Other than safety, exactly zero. 

There is a better way.  Safety needs to be completely owned by the employer.  With the proper resources mentioned earlier, which are available at no cost, an employer can experience better outcomes and a much higher ROI than they are currently experiencing by purchasing the same resources.  In addition, with technology such as Automate Safety offered by WalkerHughes Insurance, employers can take advantage of value-added resources provided by their insurance agency. 

How do you ‘do safety’?  Are you doing it the same way you’ve always done it and wondering why your results aren’t really any better?  Like everything else we have discussed, it’s time to go back to the beginning.  Decide why safety is important, communicate that to your employees and look for ways to have everyone own the safety process.   

Take advantage of all available resources.  Involve everyone in the implementation of your new safety goals, policies and procedures.  Encourage employees to report perceived hazards and near missesIncentivize safe practices and reward everyone when safety benchmarks are reached, keeping in mind this is allowed by OSHA as long as rate-based incentive programs don’t discourage reporting and are implemented as part of a wider safety program and culture. 

 

About the Author:

Ray Gage, Director of WalkerHughes Allen County Office, is a Master Work Comp Advisor who's passion and life's work is to help sophisticated, process-oriented businesses create safe, healthy, productive workplaces, and as a result, more profitable firms.  For more information on Automate Safety along with the other tools offered by WalkerHughes to assist in your quest for Zero Injuries, contact Ray at r.gage@walkerhughes.com or by phone at 260-627-3641 with any questions or inquiries.