Work performed by contractors is among the most dangerous in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 5,190 fatal work injuries reported in 2021, 951 happened in construction and extraction occupations.
Workers file claims because of hazardous working conditions, the possibility for a long-term disability, and the high risk of occupational diseases caused by prolonged exposure to certain materials used. As a result, it’s no surprise that the industry reports numerous workers’ compensation claims annually.
Companies must create a safe environment to minimize potential risks and encourage employee well-being at every level. Here are four measures organizations can take to reduce work-related injuries and workers’ compensation claims:
For contractors, the nature of the work often poses the greatest risks for workers’ compensation claims. As such, employers should train and properly equip their employees to safely carry out their duties.
Establishing clear and concise work rules is essential for reducing the likelihood of work-related injuries. Education and training should be provided for all new employees to ensure they understand how to complete tasks in a safe manner. Implementing post-hire training sessions that emphasize safety protocols and regulations also helps a company stay compliant with relevant labor laws.
In addition, employers should provide employees with all the necessary tools and equipment needed to complete tasks. Do not fall into the trap of using potentially dangerous improvised methods.
For construction jobs that are especially prone to creating injuries, employers should establish a daily check-in routine so workers can report any potential safety issues or hazards they come across while carrying out their duties. This will help identify and address any areas of risk before an incident occurs. In addition, this allows a firm to adjust any safety protocols or procedures if needed to protect its workers from harm.
Ultimately, implementing regular check-ins encourages open communication between managers and staff, fostering trust among personnel.
Institute pre-hire screenings
Implementation of pre-hire screenings is one of the most effective ways for construction companies to reduce workers’ compensation claims. Pre-hire screenings allow employers to assess a prospective employee’s physical abilities to determine if the person can perform the job. Assessing an employee’s strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, endurance and agility prior to offering a job also helps eliminate any unforeseen risks associated with certain duties.
Hire a third-party professional to implement pre-hire employee physicals and functional capacity evaluations for help in identifying and managing potential risks. These screenings provide employers with an understanding of an individual’s medical history and highlight any underlying health issues that could impact a person’s ability to perform certain tasks.
Create a safe work environment
A safe workspace improves employee productivity and can decrease workers’ compensation claims. Inspecting worksites on a regular basis can help identify potential safety hazards and any other potential risks, which then can be promptly addressed.
While accidents do happen, ergonomic injuries – including musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive motion strains – account for a third of worker injuries. They cost employers about $50 billion annually.
Employers also can take additional steps to promote employee wellness and safety while working. Since many contractors work in excessive heat, ensuring employees stay hydrated and wear sunscreen also can help prevent injury.
Ensure supervisors know the signs of heatstroke and schedule mandatory breaks for outdoor workers’ rest and hydration when work is performed in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure break areas are shaded, and that workers are not punished for taking necessary rest.
Foster physical and emotional well-being
The chances of injury and illness can be exacerbated because of stress and anxiety. Establishing formal wellness initiatives could help improve employees’ physical health and reduce fatigue-related injuries.
Employers can do one or more of the following when implementing a wellness initiative:
- Offer stress management classes and seminars.
- Provide access to mental health care providers or counselors for employees who need help coping with anxiety or depression.
- Encourage regular breaks throughout the day.
- Offer incentives for participation in fitness activities, such as discounts on gym memberships or reimbursements for exercise classes.
Employers also should focus on fostering a sense of emotional well-being among staff. To create an atmosphere of trust within the workplace that promotes communication and understanding among all levels of staff, businesses can encourage an open dialogue between supervisors and employees.
Additionally, employers should provide resources for employees who may be dealing with personal issues outside of work. This includes grief counseling services or budgeting advice from financial advisors.
The preceding measures not only show support for people who are struggling but also demonstrate that a company cares about its workers beyond their job performance alone.
Contractors that take the initiative to foster employee health and well-being will go a long way in diminishing work-related injuries and workers’ compensation claims.
Jeff Cecchini is a licensed agent for global insurance brokerage HUB International.