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Best Practices for Workers Compensation
This page will include tips, tools, and practices that will help you to manage your workers compensation program. These are best practices that we’ve taken from the archives of topics that we’ve covered in our companion site, the Workers Comp Insider. Feel free to post your comments or questions – we would welcome your feedback.

For news and more tips, visit Workers Comp Insider. We update the site frequently with news and useful tools that we’ve found on the Web.

The Basics of Experience Rating, Part Two: When do losses really count?
When are the numbers actually crunched to determine an employer's premium? When it comes to determining the experience rating for your next policy year, there is only one day that really counts. About six months after the end of your policy year, a summary of your losses (the unit stat report) is prepared by your insurance carrier(s) and submitted to your rating bureau. If you have open claims you must ensure that the numbers contained in the unit stat report are accurate and reflect an up-to-date understanding of the status of each open claim. [more]

The Basics of Experience Rating, Part One: What drives costs up the most?
What can you do to minimize the future cost of insurance? How can you translate a basic understanding of experience rating into a reduction in future premiums? In experience rating, size matters. Large insureds – with large premiums – are expected to have more losses than smaller insureds. Indeed, because their margin of error is smaller, companies with premiums in the $10,000 to $50,000 range can easily find themselves in a lot of trouble with just a few injuries. [more]

Winterize your workplace for safety
For employers, snow and ice management require preplanning. Slips, falls and back strains are among some of the more common hazards; injuries from snow-removal equipment, falls from roofs, and hypothermia/frostbite are other common injuries that can befall your workers in the winter. We offer some general winter safety tips. [more]

15 medical conditions driving cost increases - many can be managed
The August issue of Health Affairs carried a recent study issued by Emory University revealing that more than half the overall growth in cost of health-care spending could be attributed to the 15 most costly medical conditions. The study notes that many of these conditions are preventable or manageable conditions through interventions. [more]

Compensability: deviation from employment and "personal comfort" doctrine
Deviation from employment and personal comfort are legal nooks and crannies having to do with the issue of compensability. Injuries are compensable if they arise out of and in the course of employment. Sounds simple? Not so: Thousands of court challenges have occurred interpreting those few seemingly simple words. Is a worker covered while driving home from work? Is a worker covered while they take a break or go to lunch? Is a worker covered while running a personal errand during a business trip? Is a worker covered when injured at the company picnic? [more]

New overtime regulations impact workers compensation
In August 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor’s new regulations defining worker eligibility for overtime pay went into effect. Although the net effect of the new regulations won't be totally clear for a while, no one disputes that some low-wage workers (earning less than $23,660 per year) will gain overtime protection, while many others will lose it. The regulations are complex and employers will have some flexibility in implementing them. [more]

Employer communications - an increasing credibility gap?
A Towers Perrin report entitled “Is It Time to Take the SPIN Out of Employee Communication?" reveals that in a survey of 1,000 working Americans, only 51 percent believe that their company generally tells the truth in its communications to employees, and one in five employees believes that their employer generally does not tell the truth. Maintaining the credibility of management and your corporate communications programs should be part of your overall risk management program. [more]

Workers compensation jurisdiction: injury in one state, employment in another
If a worker is employed in one state but suffers an on-the-job injury in another state, under which state would benefits be paid? This is a question that frequently surfaces, particularly with today's often-mobile work force. As with many things in workers comp, it can be confusing for employers and injured workers alike, and the difference in benefits from state to state can be significant. [more]

Heart attacks on the job: are they covered by workers compensation?
Is a heart attack that occurs in the workplace is a compensable event? Not everything that occurs in the workplace is deemed compensable and that is particularly true of illnesses. Generally, a heart attack in and of itself would not be a compensable event. The acid test for compensability would revolve around whether it can be determined that the heart attack is an event that has arisen out of and in the course of employment. [more]

Early reporting: the cost of lag time
Reporting workplace injuries promptly can save a great deal of money. We report on studies that show the high cost of late reporting. Even a matter of a few days can be a significant cost.[more]

Performance measurement, part 1: the cost of losses per Full Time Equivalent Employees (FTE)
The single best economic indicator of the effectiveness of a workers’ compensation cost control program is cost of losses per FTE, an economically sound snapshot of program success at any given time. Learn why and how you should incorporate this measure you’re your benchmarking program. [more]

Performance measurement, part 2: the severity rate
The severity rate measures lost time, and is the single best non-economic indicator of the overall effectiveness of a company’s workers’ comp program. Learn more about the severity rate and how to calculate your rate. [more]

Safety: When workers die
In December, the N.Y. Times issued a 5-part series about workplace deaths. This prompted us to post a series of links to articles and resources about workplace deaths, particularly with tools on the topic of trenching and excavation. (The original articles are still accessible from the New York Times for a small fee.) [more]

Safety: When disaster strikes
When disaster happens, every decision made by management is scrutinized. After a recent oil tanker crash, which killed four people, investigators opened the books on the company's safety record and reviewed the employee's driving and health history. Are you prepared to withstand such scrutiny if disaster struck? Learn key steps that management should take. Substance abuse: [more]

When work turns deadly
The deadly crash of a New York ferry in October 2003 points to the need for substance abuse policies, and in some cases, drug and alcohol testing programs. The D.O.T. requires that employees with “safety-sensitive” jobs be subject to random testing. Find resources for establishing drug and alcohol free workplaces, and for establishing DOT compliance programs.[more]

Terminations: Seating the 800 Pound Gorilla
How do you terminate people? Termination is full of risk. It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. Indeed, it is tempting to overlook poor performance, in the vain hope that the problem will go away. All too often, the problem simply migrates to a company’s comp loss run. [more]

Maximizing recovery: Second injury funds
Second injury funds were designed to encourage employers to hire employees with disabilities and pre-existing conditions by offering a mechanism for cost relief should the employee experience an injury that aggravates the existing condition. Many employers and insurers can recoup claim expenditures through these second injury funds. [more]

Giving employees what they want
Many large companies that would do anything possible to outperform competitors may be overlooking a surefire path to success: having motivated, enthusiastic employees who are committed partners in achieving the company's goals. [more]

The Aging Workforce - Iceberg, Dead Ahead
Older workers have been doing their jobs for a long time; they’re good at them, and they have experience that just can't be found in their younger colleagues. On the other hand, although younger workers have more injuries, those injuries are substantially less costly than their older mentors. Is the workers’ compensation system prepared for risks posed by the aging work force? [more]

Alcoholism and Work: The Devil's Brew
Under the ADA, recovered alcoholics are considered individuals with a disability and as such are protected from discrimination. However, the ADA draws the line at active drinking. Once employees "fall off the wagon," they are no longer protected by the ADA. When employees have a drinking problem, employers are faced with a lot of uncertainty -- up to a point. As soon as the drinking endangers the employee and or others, employers are expected to take decisive action. [more]