Chances are good your business is located in a state where Workers Compensation insurance is required. No matter how small your business is, and whether or not Workers Comp is required, coverage is good for you, your employees and your business.
Workers Comp insurance pays medical expenses and lost wages that result from job-related injury or illness. This helps the employee and could keep him or her from filing a lawsuit against you.
How It Works
When you purchase Workers Comp you pay premiums to an insurance provider or, in some cases, a state-run insurance program. Only four states – Wyoming, Ohio and North Dakota – have completely state-run programs. Many states will provide Workers Comp insurance but also allow private insurance companies to insure employers and employees.
Rules, regulations and coverage requirements vary from state to state, including minimal number of employees, type of employees, and industries that must be covered. Check with your state government to see what is required of you and your business.
How to Reduce Costs
There are ways you can cut down on costs in your business to help keep Workers Compensation costs down.
To avoid employee injuries:
- Help keep employees healthy.
Health and well-being programs can reduce Workers Comp expenses by reducing likelihood of illness or injury.
- Develop a safety program.
A safety program can help you see where you can eliminate hazards. You an also improve safety procedures and make sure employees are properly trained to stay safe.
- Make note of options for light-duty work.
Keep track of any light transitional jobs that might be good for helping employees transition back to regular duties. This can help employees minimize time off without the risk of re-injury.
When an employee has been injured:
- File promptly.
To avoid penalties be sure to report a work-related injury to your state Workers Compensation Board (WCB) within 24 hours. For Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) coverage, reports must be filed within three days. (OWCP programs are: the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation and Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation Program.)
- Pay attention to the doctors’ restrictions.
The injured employee’s doctor will specify work restrictions. As the employer, you must make sure they are followed.
- Provide opportunity for lighter-duty work.
If you can, allow the injured employee to work again but in a temporarily reduced role, you can lower your associated costs.
- Show your concern.
Check in with the injured employee to stay abreast with progress and the estimated return to work date. This will also help the employee feel valued and build loyalty.
To find more helpful tips and information for small and medium businesses, visit the eInsurance Business Journal.