Stop injured workers walking through your door
The most cost-effective way to lower your workers’ compensation bill is simple: Stop pre-existing injuries from walking into your business.
By choosing effective pre-employment medical assessments, you can save up to 65 per cent as insurers see your workplace as less of a liability.
Most pre-employment medicals are not detecting enough pre-existing injuries – in some cases, the tests are detecting none.
Fail rates should be around 15 per cent and up to 20 per cent for jobs where manual handling is involved.
The most common types of injuries that go undetected are musculoskeletal – damage to muscles and joints, usually caused by strenuous activity.
Concerningly, those are exactly the types of latent injuries that will cost employers through lost labour, replacement labour and especially by driving up those workers’ compensation premiums.
You should be seeking a new provider if your LTIR and workers’ compensation premiums are not below the industry standard.
Remember though: High testing costs ≠ better, but real savings don’t come from a cheaper test – they come from long-term injury reduction.
Don’t be scared to grill a potential client on their facts, figures and testimonials from previous clients. Ask to know actual detection rates and independently commissioned cost-benefit analogies (don’t be fooled by just one good figure).
Also seek out providers that use physiotherapists – physios are the medics specialised in musculoskeletal injuries.
Don’t be shy to seek out, or ask for, guarantees: A provider should be able to offer savings, based on their proven performance analytics.
2. Ditch your manual handling training courses.
Sitting people in a classroom and teaching them manual handling skills does virtually nothing to reduce injury rates, according to a range of new studies.
The training is compulsory for jobs involving manual handling and often has to be updated each year, but new evidence suggests that money is better spent on supervisors.
“The supervisor is the key,” says Suremploy chief executive Tom Aune.
“There is very well documented evidence from organisational psychologists that 70 per cent of individual safety behaviour depends on the person they report to directly.”
Aune suggests restructuring legally obligated training to quicker, cheaper and more efficient online models and instead channel resources into the supervisor.
“The supervisor is the only person in authority who is physically present when the workers are bending, lifting, stretching etcetera. In most cases that makes them the most underutilised resource in injury reduction or injury prevention.”
Aune says that training a small cohort of supervisors is cheaper than training a whole workforce, and making them accountable for injury rates could make this model even more effective.
“If the supervisor sees it as their role and opportunity to actually reduce injury and pain and suffering then they are in a very powerful position to do so simply by enforcing that they don’t want to see their workers get hurt.”
Passed up the command chain, dispersing that accountability could have “revolutionary” impacts on reducing injury rates.
3. Return injured workers ASAP
Returning to work within a day of sustaining an injury might sound counterintuitive – but a regimented plan can actually be one of the most cost-effective actions an employer can take.
Backed by research from the New South Wales Workcover Authority, it is proven that employees who return faster, recover faster.
The research revealed two compelling findings: The importance of overcoming the fear of the place of injury and the importance of workplace-based rehabilitation.
There is often a lot of fear for an injured worker returning to the place where they were hurt, and that fear can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.
Returning even as soon as within 24-hours of the injury can prevent that fear from snowballing and help the employee integrate back into their role.
As soon as a worker is back they should begin workplace-based rehabilitation. This is not about returning to work and being expected to perform at optimal productivity – it’s about gradually returning to full health.
The return to work plan needs to be well prepared with easy and safe options for even the most seriously injured workers.
The plan should include training for supervisors, managers and co-workers to understand the person returning to work isn’t there to be productive but to rehabilitate as quickly as possible.