Best Practices for Managing Workers’ Compensation in High-Risk Industries

high-risk industries

Workers’ compensation insurance is a critical safety net for employers, providing financial support to employees in the event of a work-related injury. This is particularly important for high-risk industries with an elevated likelihood of injury. Though this policy is necessary, it can often be expensive, as workers’ compensation costs are rising. As businesses seek to create safer work environments and minimize expenses, effectively managing workers’ compensation is critical in mitigating risks, safeguarding employees, and ensuring organizational resilience. This article explores the best practices for managing workers’ compensation in high-risk industries, depicting strategies that address workplace injuries and prioritize prevention. Organizations can confidently and cost-effectively navigate workers’ compensation by understanding high-risk industries and implementing proactive safety measures.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation in High-Risk Industries

Though employees in all industries experience risks and hazards in the workplace, some industries are more prone to injury due to the nature of the work. According to the National Safety Council, some of these high-risk industries include:

  • Construction.
  • Education and Health Services.
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting.
  • Transportation and warehousing.

The nature of these sectors often involves frequent exposure to heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and physically demanding tasks, heightening the risk of accidents. This increased risk of injury also increases a company’s insurance risk, resulting in higher workers’ compensation premiums and costs. This necessary safety net is more than just a reactive process. Rather, its effective management shows a proactive commitment to creating a safe and secure work environment. 

Strategies for Managing Workers’ Compensation Before Injuries Occur

Managing workers’ compensation in high-risk injuries requires a focus on prevention and proactive interventions. These interventions and protocols minimize employees’ risk of injury and reduce the likelihood of workers’ compensation utilization.

Identifying, Assessing, and Mitigating Risks

In high-risk industries, organizations must take a proactive stance on risk identification, assessment, and mitigation. A risk assessment is a thorough process that entails identifying potential hazards in the workplace and evaluating the likelihood and severity of incidents. Organizations in high-risk industries should consider factors such as machinery operation, chemical exposure, ergonomics, and the unique challenges associated with their sector. Identifying risky activities in the workplace can help organizations tailor safety protocols and potentially remove unnecessary hazards. Organizations should also examine historical data on workplace accidents. This data provides insight into patterns in types of injury and root causes, showing where preventative measures can be put in place or fortified. This reduces the likelihood of workplace incidents and ensures that, in the event of an accident, the organization is well-prepared to provide swift and appropriate workers’ compensation support.

Safety training programs, utilizing personal protective equipment, and modifying the work environment are some examples of standard preventative measures used in high-risk industries to mitigate hazards in the workplace. Many organizations utilize a robust safety training program to educate employees about potential hazards and safe work practices. This training often includes a segment on proper selection and fit of personal protective equipment. Through risk assessment, organizations can identify and remove unnecessary hazards from the workplace. If a hazard cannot be removed, the organization may minimize employee risk by changing the work environment. For example, if the air quality is poor, an organization may replace the ventilation system to improve the air quality. By focusing on preventative measures, organizations can contribute to a more straightforward workers’ compensation process and the reduction of injury in the workplace.

Developing a Comprehensive Workers’ Compensation Policy

Organizations in high-risk industries also need to have a comprehensive workers’ compensation policy in place in the event of an injury. This policy should include reporting procedures for injuries and accidents, documentation protocols, and other pertinent information to the workers’ compensation process. This policy should be communicated to employees through employee handbooks, training sessions, and other accessible communication channels. This ensures that all employees are on the same page and understand the steps to take in case of an incident.

The reporting procedures should encourage employees to promptly report injuries, contributing to the timely and appropriate support of the injured employee. The procedure should describe the proper reporting channels and should also discuss the expected standards for record keeping. A comprehensive workers’ compensation policy fosters a culture of safety and responsibility in the workplace, ensuring that all employees know what to do in case of an accident. 

With preventative measures in place and a clear workers’ compensation policy, organizations in high-risk industries set the foundation for effective workers’ compensation management.

Strategies for Managing Workers’ Compensation After an Injury

Organizations in high-risk industries can also contribute to effectively managing workers’ compensation once the process has started. By communicating with medical and insurance providers and investing in a return-to-work program, organizations can ensure the timely delivery of workers’ compensation funds and a swift return to work for injured employees.

Communicating with Medical Providers and Insurance Providers

After an injury has occurred and has been reported, organizations are responsible for delivering information about the injury and necessary medical treatment to their insurance provider. This requires constant communication with the injured employee and their healthcare provider. Following a work-related injury, employers should regularly check in with their injured employees. The injured employee’s medical provider can provide more in-depth information about necessary medical treatments and recovery. This information is critical for the insurance provider to deliver the workers’ compensation payout promptly.

Return-to-Work Programs

A well-structured return-to-work program is pivotal for the employee’s recovery and the organization’s operational continuity. These programs seek to help injured employees reintegrate into the workforce. These programs often utilize the expertise of occupational health providers to coordinate with human resources, healthcare professionals, and injured employees. This expertise helps develop a personalized reintegration plan. The plan should consider the injured employee’s medical and functional restrictions, modifying tasks as necessary. These programs help employees transition back to work and minimize workplace injuries’ long-term impact on individuals and organizations.

Effectively managing workers’ compensation in high-risk industries involves attention to minimizing risk and supporting employee rehabilitation. Working with an occupational health provider, like Work Health Solutions, can help organizations reduce workers’ compensation spending and foster employee well-being. 

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Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
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Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
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Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

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 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

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Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

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