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2022 Workplace Safety Index: the top 10 causes of disabling injuries - Helmsman

2022 Workplace Safety Index: the top 10 causes of disabling injuries

Today, the top 10 causes of workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $1 billion a week, with total injuries costing more than $58 billion every year. Yet what makes these statistics even more disheartening is that the risk of many workplace injuries can be reduced.

The Workplace Safety Index (WSI) compiles the top 10 causes of the most serious non-fatal workplace injuries – those that caused employees to miss work for more than five days – ranked by direct cost to employers based on medical and lost-wage expenses.

Back injuries and broken bones can occur on any job, not just high-risk industries such as construction and healthcare. By making business owners aware of common scenarios for serious injuries, we can work together to reduce risk and create a safer workplace for tomorrow.
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1. Overexertion involving
outside sources (handling
objects)
Cost per year: $12.63B
1. Overexertion involving outside sources - handling objects
2. Watch for wet floors
2. Falls on the same level
Cost per year: $10.26B
3. Struck by object or
equipment (being hit by
objects)
Cost per year: $5.66B
Watch for unsecured tools, racks, and product
4. Falls to a lower level
4. Falls to a lower level
Cost per year: $5.07B
5. Other exertions and
bodily reactions (awkward
postures)
Cost per year: $4.01B
Watch for stepping down from a vehicle
Watch for distracted drivers
6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle (motor vehicle crashes)
Cost per year: $3.59B
7. Slip or trip without a fall
Cost per year: $2.526B
Watch for slippery or uneven walkways
Watch for moving or rotating machinery
8. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects
Cost per year: $2.19B
9. Struck against object or equipment (person colliding with objects or equipment)
Cost per year: $1.87B
Watch for fixed objects in the workspace
Watch for speed, terrain, and visibility
10. Nonroadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles (off-road vehicle incidents)
Cost per year: $1.39B

A safer workplace helps protect your employees — and your bottom line. Partner with Helmsman Management Services to learn how to identify and control for potential workplace injuries. Every preventive step helps you better mitigate your exposure to risks.

Study Methodology: the annual Workplace Safety Index is based on information from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).¹ BLS nonfatal injury data are analyzed with the Liberty Mutual data to determine which events caused employees to miss more than five days of work, and then to rank those events by workers compensation costs, which are then scaled to the NASI total cost. To capture accurate injury cost data, each index is based on data three years prior. Accordingly, the 2022 index reflects 2019 data. To capture accurate injury cost data, each index is based on data three years prior. Accordingly, the 2022 index reflects 2019 data.

1. Liberty Mutual is grateful for the data collection accomplished by the National Academy of Social Insurance ( https://www.nasi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/2021-Workers-Compensation-Report-2019-Data.pdf), and the customized data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Safety, Health, and Working Conditions.

Claims case handling for when disaster strikes

Business doesn’t stop moving even when a disaster occurs. Whether your business is impacted by a devastating fire, a catastrophic injury, or a brand bashing claim, we are here to help keep your business intact and set things right.

 

Workers compensation claims

Walk through a claims case study to see how we helped a worker with a severely injured hand from a machinery accident recover and return to work. 

 

Liability claims

Watch the claims case study to see how our expert claims team was able to quickly avert a faulty, brand tarnishing claim. 

Property claims

Learn from this claims case study how our property claims team helped a business get back to running quickly after a catastrophic fire. 

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional adviser regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

2021 Workplace Safety Index: the top 10 causes of disabling injuries

From back injuries to broken bones, the top 10 causes of workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $1 billion a week.

Workplace injuries are not limited to high-risk industries such as manufacturing and construction. Disabling injuries can occur on any job, making workplace safety a top concern for employers.

The 2021 Workplace Safety Index (WSI) compiles the 10 causes of the most serious disabling workplace injuries – those that caused employees to miss work for more than five days – and ranks them by direct cost to employers based on medical and lost-wage expenses.

The top 10 causes of
disabling workplace injuries
Disabling workplace injuries cost businesses more than $58 billion every year.
The first step in protecting your business and workforce is knowing how serious injuries happen.
clipboard check list
1. Handling objects | Cost per year $13.30B | Watch for: heavy boxes
1. Handling objects1
Cost per year: $13.30B
Watch for: heavy boxes
2. Falls on same level | Cost per year $10.5B | Watch for: wet floors
2. Falls on the same level
Cost per year: $10.58B
Watch for: wet floors
3. Falls to lower level | Cost per year $6.26B | Watch for: wobbly ladders
3. Falls to lower level
Cost per year: $6.26B
Watch for: wobbly ladders
4. Being hit by objects | Cost per year $5.61B | Watch for: falling objects
4. Being hit by objects2
Cost per year: $5.61B
Watch for: falling objects
5. Awkward postures | Cost per year $4.71B | Watch for: stepping down from a vehicle
5. Awkward postures3
Cost per year: $4.71B
Watch for: stepping down from a vehicle
6. Vehicles crashes | Cost per year $3.16B | Watch for: distracted drivers
6. Vehicle crashes4
Cost per year: $3.16B
Watch for: distracted drivers
7. Slip or trip without fall | Cost per year $2.52B | Watch for: slippery or uneven walkways
7. Slip or trip without fall
Cost per year: $2.52B
Watch for: slippery or uneven walkways
8. Colliding with objects or equipment | Cost per year $2.46B | Watch for: fixed objects in the work or workspace
8. Colliding with
objects or equipment5

Cost per year: $2.46B
Watch for: fixed objects in the work or workspace
9. Colliding with objects | Cost per year $2.0B | Watch for: That concrete pillar
9. Caught in equipment
or machines6

Cost per year: $2.01B
Watch for: moving/rotating machinery parts
10. Repetitive motions involving microtasks  | Cost per year $1.66B | Watch for: hand- and shoulder-intensive work
10. Repetitive motions
involving microtasks

Cost per year: $1.66B
Watch for: hand- and shoulder-intensive work

Make sure to work with a trusted TPA to examine workplace injuries in your own business, and how you can effectively reduce those risks. Because a safer workplace isn’t just good for employees; it’s good for the bottom line.

Study Methodology:
The annual Workplace Safety Index is based on information from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI). BLS non-fatal injury data are analyzed with the Liberty Mutual data to determine which events caused employees to miss more than five days of work, and then to rank those events by workers compensation costs, which are then scaled to the NASI total cost.

To capture accurate injury cost data, each index is based on data three years prior. Accordingly, the 2021 index reflects 2018 data.

1. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Overexertion involving outside sources” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
2. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Struck by object or equipment” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
3. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Other exertions or bodily reactions” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
4. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
5. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Struck against object or equipment” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
6. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.

Reducing safety risks for a returning and deconditioned workforce

With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and expectation of getting “closer to normal” by July 4, 2021, many businesses are considering moving back to regular operations before the end of the year. Despite this progress, it’s clear that the pandemic has made a lasting impact on our workforce—and the safety implications of returning to work need to be carefully considered.

 

The pandemic-era trend toward layoffs and early retirement means today’s workforce has less training and experience than in March 2020. On top of that, a year of being at home has physically changed our bodies, resulting in what experts call a “deconditioned workforce.” Unfortunately, this less trained and deconditioned workforce poses new safety risks for business, particularly in more risk-prone industries such as manufacturing, trucking, and construction. Today, it’s important for businesses to consider the safety risks associated with this trend and what they can do to help reduce workplace injuries as employees return to work. 

Early retirement makes an impact

Because of the pandemic, many older Americans working in heavily impacted industries decided to retire sooner than planned. According to a study by the Schwartz Center, more than 1 million workers left the workforce between August 2020 and January 2021. In the last year, the unemployment rate for older workers has been significantly higher than mid-career workers—a rare occurrence in the job market.

 

For businesses that laid off a large percentage of their workforce during the pandemic, this means that new hires will have significantly less training and experience than their predecessors. Compounding this problem is the fact that many workers are joining new industries due to COVID-19; according to a study by McKinsey, more than 100 million workers globally, or 1 in 16 people, will need to change occupations because of the pandemic.

 

These factors equate to increased risk for companies—especially those in certain sectors. According to David Perez, chief underwriting officer at Helmsman Management Services: “In any job with a high safety risk, like construction, trucking, or manufacturing, untrained workers present tremendous exposure for accidents to occur.” In high-risk industries where training and experience prevent workplace injury, there is now a much more significant burden on employers to help keep untrained employees safe. 

A deconditioned workforce

Even for experienced employees returning to work, there is a greater risk of workplace injury when they come back to their jobs, post-pandemic. This is the result of worker deconditioning, or the degeneration of physical fitness and flexibility from lack of use. Bottom line? After more than a year of being at home, many of us simply aren’t as prepared to do physical labor as we were before the pandemic.

 

How bad is the problem? According to HumanTech, every day that we don’t use our muscles, we lose 1-3% of our strength. Months of sedentary behavior changes our bodies—and we can’t rebuild that strength overnight. Other factors, like reduced cardiovascular fitness and reduced flexibility, also contribute to workplace injury, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries. It will take weeks or even months for workers to regain the strength they had before the pandemic. In the meantime, businesses need to be aware of the increased risk and adjust their insurance policies to reflect that change.

Reduce risk by investing in training

Our workforce and working environment may be different from what it once was—but a commitment to health, safety, and training should remain a key area of focus as companies begin returning to “business as usual.” Companies looking to reduce the risks associated with an untrained and deconditioned workforce should invest in training processes, particularly in the first few months back at work. In addition to these new processes, businesses should also review what their key drivers of loss are when it comes to workplace injuries.

 

“The number one best practice is making sure you have procedures and protocols in place to get your workers trained up appropriately,” says David Perez. “The more hazardous the occupation, the more time you should allow for the hiring and training process to occur.” By investing in your workforce’s knowledge and well-being, your company is better prepared to mitigate costly workers compensation claims, accidents and other liabilities—proving that training is well worth the investment.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional adviser regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

Balance remote-work risks: 6 central areas for businesses to review

For most businesses, remote work makes many parts of the job easier – and less expensive. However, there can be challenges with employees working remotely. You can avoid some of the more common pitfalls of remote work by having the right policies and procedures in place. A good place to start is by consulting with your human resources team (or an employment lawyer, if necessary) to ensure compliance when managing your virtual workplace risks.

The following are six key areas of your business that you should monitor for risks as they relate to employees working remotely.

Tracking employee time

Ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) and establish a process within your teams for work during non-standard business hours and accommodations for time zones and schedule adjustments.

  • Timekeeping tools: Avoid discrepancies in remote-employee claims around required meal periods, rest breaks, and overtime by implementing appropriate timekeeping methods. Monitor the reports and remind non-exempt employees to stay within the agreed parameters.
  • Overtime: Stay ahead of potential overtime deficits by establishing a clear set of guidelines for employees to record and report work beyond their scheduled hours.

Expense reimbursement

Although employees may request reimbursement for expenses incurred while working remotely (use of their personal cell phone, electricity, Internet, and other home office costs), employers are not generally required to reimburse for these expenses. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Under the FLSA, if these expenses affect the salary basis test or minimum wage earnings, employers may be responsible for reimbursement.
  • Relevant laws in some states may require a different strategic plan of action, particularly: California, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Discrimination & harassment

Harassment, bullying, and unfair treatment can still occur with remote work, and you shouldn’t forget your obligation to review employee concerns.

  • Liability laws: In general, companies will be held vicariously liable for unlawful discrimination or harassment by a supervisor, but if the conduct is by a co-worker, the employer is liable only to the extent it was negligent in discovering the behavior and taking action to end it.
  • Training opportunities: All employees can benefit from training on avoiding discriminatory behavior. However, training for those who are supervising others is particularly important. Currently, states such as California, New York, and Connecticut, have mandated sexual harassment training.

Disability accommodations

A remote work policy cannot treat employees differently on the basis of disability. This means that as an employer, you should not ask employees who disclose they have a medical condition to work in the office or to work remotely based on an assumption the person cannot work in the other locale.  Other factors to consider include:

  • As you re-open to allow in-person work, it is important to balance the needs of employees who wish to remain in a remote setting due to pre-existing conditions (e.g., asthma). We recommend reviewing the most up-to-date guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on appropriate accommodations: https://www.eeoc.gov/.
  • For any remote employees seeking assistance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a process should be established within your business to assess and assist a strategic work plan for them.

Worker safety & compensation

Although your employees may be virtual, courts will likely consider remote workers at home to be on the employer’s work premises when determining whether an injury is compensable under workers compensation laws – even though the employer has no direct control over that environment. So, what does this mean for your business?

  • OSHA obligations: Under OSHA, employers are required to provide a safe workplace, even if that isn’t in the normal place of business operations. Review whether employees, especially if they must travel, have safety options such as PPE, paper towels, and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Remote injuries: A recent court case found that injuries resulting from a trip over the family dog while in the middle of a work task could be compensable. It’s hard to control for that sort of situation, but given the obvious risk of ergonomic injury for employees who work on keyboards, consider conducting virtual reviews of an ideal home office set-up for your team.

Workforce management

As we begin the slow recovery process from COVID-19, the impact of virtual workspaces will extend to new hire procedures, protected leave plans, and future furloughs. It’s important to stay informed on the latest Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and federal legislation in these key areas:

  • Hiring: At will offers are key to maintaining flexibility during this time. As an employer, you should be careful not to enter into an employment contract when offering a position. As a general rule of thumb, new employees are obligated to produce proof of citizenship or work authorization in person, unless your workplace is fully remote.
  • Leave of Absence: Remote employees still have the ability to take protected leave under FMLA, the ADA, or state law depending on your business. Employees will also have the right to take paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) until the end of 2020 absent an extension, state law in certain cases, or leave pursuant to a short-term or long-term disability plan.
  • Reduction in Force (RIF): If you are executing a RIF to help minimize costs, remember to consider requirements under the federal WARN Act (which generally requires 60 days’ notice where there are mass layoffs, among other events) or other WARN requirements under certain state laws. Similarly, when making alternate cost-saving measures (such as reduction of hours and furloughs, consider UC and FLSA responsibilities as well as potential WARN issues.

COVID-19 continues to challenge businesses in a number of key areas. As an employer, your best line of defense to mitigate remote-work risks is to stay informed. At Helmsman Management Services, you can count on us to deliver the right resources at the right time to drive the very best outcome for your business.

 

The foregoing is not professional advice nor legal advice, is provided for information only, and is not a substitute for consulting with a professional.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional adviser regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

Understanding employee risks in a virtual workplace

As we slowly recover from COVID-19, many employers are continuing to allow their employees to work remotely. In fact, 66% of employers surveyed said they are planning to allow employees to work from home full-time through 2021, and 73% intend to offer flexible work arrangements once the pandemic is over.[1] However, this shift to a virtual workplace has presented new challenges for some businesses. If your company is continuing to move away from traditional work settings, now is the best time to reassess and mitigate work-related risks to employees working from home.

The following are key ways your business can better prepare for remote risks associated with employees working off premises.   

Conduct a risk assessment

Have your risks changed with virtual workspaces? As you assess and prioritize work-related risks for individual work groups, consider if these new remote-work locations will be short or long-term.

A few top concerns may include:

  • Ergonomics – repetitive stress injuries from desk set-up, cords, and more
  • Same-level fall – slips and trips in employee environment
  • Mental health – stress and isolation from working alone

Revise operational processes

To better understand and address risks, revisit your existing safety programs and strategies. What gaps need to be covered in this new workplace model? If programs don’t currently exist, formalize an approach to assess and help reduce risks to workers. While short vs long-term strategies may look different, it is important to treat your employees consistently.

As you begin your strategic planning:

  • Create an assessment or feedback process for your business
  • Develop a process for making decisions about resources
  • Identify measures of success, e.g. number of touches to online help resources; number of equipment/peripheral purchases

Adjust resources against risk

What can you do to limit risks for your workers? If your business is saving money by having employees working remotely, consider reallocating some of that budget to employee safety. Be sure to include easy access to resources so employees can get the help they need, with a goal of eliminating any possible barriers to the process. Considerations include:

  • Checking and reallocating resources to support your businesses remote-work strategy.
  • Developing a purchase/delivery process for equipment, furniture, and supporting tools, keeping ease of order process in mind.
  • Defining methods to provide training and knowledge sources for workers

In addition, it’s critical to consider the ergonomic and environmental risks associated with employees who are working remotely. Environmental risks can include walking surfaces, stairs, and overuse of power strips and outlets in the home – to name just a few.

At Helmsman Management Services, we understand that we live in challenging times. It’s why our focus remains on supporting our business partners at every stage with a dedicated team and tailored programs designed to fit your needs.

[1] CNBC.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional adviser regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

Delayed claims reporting: the true cost to businesses and injured workers

Workplace injuries that go unreported can keep employees on the sidelines — uncertain about treatment and unclear on what to expect under their state’s WC system. When workplace incidents do happen, prompt claim reporting is a key factor to ensuring injured employees receive the necessary care to feel supported in a successful return — and minimizing business impact.

Businesses appreciate the value of speed. Consider these strategies to accelerate your injury reporting:

 

  • Make the connection. Assigning a point of contact responsible for reporting helps employees know who to talk to.
  • Early education. Familiarize employees with the injury reporting process early and often, so they know what to do if the time comes.
  • Leverage technology. Your insurer may have apps, tools, or data enhancements to streamline your reporting to make it faster and easier.
  • Encourage treatment. Discuss injuries in private, and don’t blame or belittle workers for their injuries. Stress your support for their recovery, and help them find the right provider. You don’t want employees hiding an injury.
  • Rapid reporting has clear benefits — track successes and hold management accountable to reporting targets, with a recommended target of 80 percent of workers compensation claims reported within three days.

Get ahead of reporting lag, and you’re advocating for both your workers and your workers compensation outcomes.

Award-winning portal helps ease the pain of on-the-job injuries for all

New tools empower employees, promoting better healing and healthier businesses.

Problem and solution.
Capabilities that simplify employee recovery
Our website encourages participation and follow-through by making it simple for injured workers to:
claims check icon
Find out when a
check is coming
deposit payment icon
Set up direct
deposit for faster
access to payment
communication icon
Contact
adjusters and
specialists
healthcare icon
Find
medical care
providers
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Get answers to common
questions
Engagement that helps improve return to work outcomes
Providing tools like this shows employees you have their back, which can help:
time icon
Reduce
downtime
book icon
Preserve
institutional
knowledge
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Protect
company culture
injured workers icon
Reduce costs
by improving workers
compensation claim
outcomes
optimize icon
Optimize
production
So much more simple compared to other websites I've used.– Josh H.
Never had an issue getting through to a live person. – Susanna K.
It tells me exactly what I need to see. – Patrick J.

Why it works

Winner of the 2020 Business Insurance Innovation Award, the website was built from the worker’s point of view, using the following four pillars of injured worker advocacy:
Empathy. Put yourself in workers’ shoes to anticipate and meet their needs.
 
Clarity. Use clear, simple language that makes the goals and process easy to understand.
 
Connection. Keep the employer and employee
in the loop.
 
The right care. Keep the employer and
employee in the loop.

Claims technology with people at the core

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has played an important role in helping manage claims and serve customers – safely from a distance. But focusing on technology is only part of the story. In a recent interview, Steve Deane, Helmsman’s chief claims officer, got to the heart of successful technology implementation: people. After all, he says, “technology is only as good as the people who’re responsible for using it.”

Keeping injured workers connected during uncertain times

Many companies have implemented new technologies to keep business going and serve both employees and customers during the COVID era. But, according to Deane, these investments in technology are most effective when the goal is focused on helping people. When businesses start with a people-first mindset, they can make smarter, more impactful decisions around technology implementation that support the overall user experience.

One example is Helmsman’s new injured worker portal, a system that makes the claims process simpler and more transparent for businesses and their employees. Though the technology aspect is “critical” to making the system work – especially during a pandemic – it is second to “putting the injured employee’s well-being first and  identifying ways to reduce stress and anxiety that often comes with a work-related injury, so the worker can focus on recovery.”

 “That mindset — of putting people at ease and focusing on recovery — is enabled by the technology of the portal,” says Deane. “Rather than using highly technical language – essentially claims jargon — in our written and verbal communications, we’re striving to help explain the process in ways that people who aren’t workers comp experts can understand.”

By focusing on its people-first mission when implementing this new portal, Helmsman was able to address common customer pain points and improve overall user experience. People were at the root of this decision; technology was just the right tool for the job.

Using online technology to assess property damage

Helping companies assess property damage during the COVID-19 pandemic is another way that Helmsman is using technology to ensure customers feel connected and supported. Deane explains, “…we introduced a virtual method of assessing property damage where customers can send images to our claims specialists and that speeds our claim estimating and adjustment.” This new method is safer for agents and customers, but it also maintains a people-first culture by ensuring that a live claims specialist stays involved. Rather than replacing personal interactions with a digital interface, Helmsman’s new system makes it easier and safer for agents and customers to connect.

Now more than ever, human contact is the glue that connects us – and technology, while a vital tool, cannot replace that. As Deane puts it, “at a time when there’s so much chaos in the world around us, feeling part of something bigger is more important … than ever.”

What you need to know about the potential impact of COVID-19 on your workers compensation program

It’s hard to overstate the impact of COVID-19 on our communities and the businesses we serve. And while the situation continues to change, and hopefully will improve in time, the impacts to insurance will be felt for many months and years to come. Brokers and risk managers should keep these key areas of focus in mind as we navigate these issues throughout 2021 and beyond.

Key Workers Compensation Impacts of COVID-19

woman in-mask-image

Transmission prevention

Government agency guidance is evolving — monitor and swiftly implement new recommendations, including:
Using cleaning log sheets
Posting signage requiring social distancing and masks
Supplying PPE
Documenting training efforts, incidents of noncompliance, and steps to enforce safety protocols
Maintaining notification procedures, contact tracing, and other actions taken to determine work-relatedness of exposures
Learn more about vaccination from the CDC’s Essential Workers Covid-19 Vaccine Toolkit.
Despite vaccine1 advancements, guidelines2 to minimize the spread will remain in place throughout much of 2021.

Claims issues

Cataloging compliance and preparedness efforts is a key component of navigating COVID-19 claims and helping to minimize additional liability.
Timely claims reporting is critical; delayed claims typically:
focus icon
Are harder to investigate
litigation-icon
Are more likely to involve litigation
cost icon
Cost more overall
injured worker icon
Take longer for injured workers to return
More than 20 states3 have workers compensation presumptions of compensability rules in place. These laws shift the burden to the employer of proving that an employee’s COVID-19 injury was not work related.

Long-term impacts

COVID impacts vary by patient; while many recover fully, some experience relapses and new symptoms for weeks or months.
Longer-term health impacts include:
Shortness of breath
Fatigue
Cognitive issues
Cardiovascular effects
Gastrointestinal issues
Intolerance to physical or mental activity
Low-grade fever
Muscle and joint pain
The long-tail nature of these claims will be felt for years to come, impacting the cost of insurance.
Other workers compensation impacts
Injury creep can occur when injured workers face treatments delays if providers:
healthcare icon
Some facilities may postpone certain elective surgeries based on capacity challenges
appointment-icon-icon
Physical therapy or medical evaluations may be less frequent or be managed virtually by telemedicine
Some businesses have adjusted operations, downsized, or closed temporarily; workers compensation impacts can include:
Reduced WC claims volume for some businesses
Limited light duty or return to work opportunities
Switching costs to train workers on different jobs
All these factors can increase claim durations and create new workplace risks.
Contact your representative today to see how we can help.
computer monitor icon
From risk control guidance to claims handling expertise, we’re here for you.

1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/8-things.html
2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/need-to-know.html
3. https://www.ncci.com/Articles/Pages/COVID-19.aspx

Your safety and well-being are our primary concern. These suggestions are general in nature, so you should ensure that any activities you contemplate comply with all federal, state, and local COVID-19 orders impacting your facilities or operations as well as CDC guidelines for social distancing, hygiene, and other recommended best practices.

Our risk control services are advisory only. We assume no responsibility for: managing or controlling customer safety activities, implementing any recommended corrective measures, or identifying all potential hazards.

No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations. Please refer to the appropriate government authority for interpretation or clarification.

Three long-term impacts of COVID-19 on workers compensation claims

COVID-19 has impacted nearly every industry, and as a result, both employers and employees are facing growing concerns regarding the long-term impact of the virus—and how it is complicating injured worker recoveries.  

For example, according to an article by the University of California Davis, we know that a growing number of people who become ill with the virus will experience mild to moderate symptoms for a prolonged period of time. Referred to as “long COVID-19” or “long-haulers”, these people can exhibit an expanding array of potentially chronic symptoms—including symptoms that may surface at a later date. As an employer, it’s important to not only understand and prepare for the uncertainty surrounding the lingering and long-term effects of a COVID-19 recovery, but also the impact the illness may have on future workers compensation claims. Here’s what you can expect:

 

COVID-19 claims are likely to be unique, not straightforward.

A common denominator of COVID-19 is that it can affect everyone differently. So, while some of your employees may be able to return to work quickly in a more normal timeframe, others can experience relapses that can take several weeks or longer to recover from.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association:

  • Roughly 10 percent of individuals stricken with COVID-19 experience prolonged symptoms.
  • Even among those that experience mild symptoms, more than 33 percent of individuals infected with the virus had not recovered fully two to three weeks after testing positive.
  • In one study, 87 percent of individuals infected reported the persistence of at least one symptom.

Because COVID-19 is a new disease, little is known so far about what’s causing the persistence of symptoms or the appearance of new ones – and what’s hindering full recovery. Among the longer-term health problems associated with COVID-19 are shortness of breath, fatigue, cognitive issues, cardiovascular effects, gastrointestinal issues, low-grade fever, intolerance to physical or mental activity, and muscle and joint pains. What this means is that each COVID-19 occurrence may have distinct consequences – on both your employees and the impact of having a long road to recovery, but also challenging your business’ risk planning efforts.

COVID-19 workers compensation claims may have long tails, with full impact unknown until later.

Like many employers, you may have had to scale back operations at various points during the pandemic with workers logging fewer hours, working remotely, or being furloughed. As a result, your business may have experienced a modest decrease in the number of annual workers compensation claims.  However, there continue to be concerns about the challenging long-tail nature of COVID-19 claims. According to the “2020 State of the Line Guide” by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), there are several aspects that could easily extend active claims. The report highlights COVID-19 claim-duration predictions, among them:

  • Severity of illness will dictate costs – from low-cost medical care to treat mild symptoms, to hospital stays and/or extended rehabilitation for more serious cases.
  • Delayed medical care and physical therapy for other nonacute conditions may contribute to injury creep – extending claim duration and putting upward pressure on costs.
  • Some COVID-19 claims may also involve a mental component and could require temporary or long-term treatment.

The still-evolving long-tail nature of these claims means that lingering symptoms can impact both your recovering employees and future  workers compensation costs. 

COVID-19 experiences pose challenges to return to work norms and employee staffing.

A key part of managing your workers compensation costs is ensuring timely medical care for employees in order to support return to work efforts as quickly and safely as possible after recovery. Due to varying state mandates, many medical facilities have delayed elective procedures and have curtailed the amount of available office appointments – making medical care more difficult to come by for some employees. Also, due to decreased staffing, businesses may have fewer return to work and light-duty opportunities available, which could also prolong the length of a claim.

Conclusion

When assessing the potential longer-term COVID-19 impact, many factors play a role in affecting your business’ claims experience as you continue to navigate risk management. At Helmsman Management Services, we understand the challenges your business is up against because of COVID-19 as you continue to manage workers compensation claims costs. For additional COVID-19 resources, please visit our Coronavirus Guidance page.

 

 

Empowering injured workers throughout their WC management

Injured worker advocacy in action.

At the core of every claim, there’s a person. Advocating for injured workers helps employees heal properly and get back to their lives and jobs. It helps employers keep business humming as they control workers compensation costs. Caring comes first. See how an empathetic claims specialist made a difference for an employee facing COVID-19.

 

3 empathetic approaches to WC claims management during COVID-19

Covering every angle to bring you the best claims experience.

As stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and remote work have become commonplace in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have shifted operations to remain functional and help keep their employees safe. 

But for employees suffering from work-related injuries, in addition to grappling with the normal stressors of recovering from an injury, the pandemic has raised several other pressing concerns:

  • How will I get the care I need?
  • Will I be able to receive needed medication and treatments?
  • Will my benefits be impacted?
  • Will I fully recover from this injury?
  • Will I be able to return to my job at the end of this?

Amid today’s unprecedented circumstances, supporting these employees so they can continue to receive care and focus on recovery is a key part of maintaining productivity and an engaged workforce.

Like our customers, we at Helmsman Management Services also shifted quickly so our claims teams could continue to be effective and injured workers would feel supported. Claims specialists have vital roles in helping to ease feelings of uncertainty, says Carolyn Turpin, vice president and regional manager for the West, Helmsman Management Services.

“It’s critical to recognize that this kind of upheaval has been a highly sensitive area for injured workers,” she says. “In order to ease worries and help workers through, it’s imperative to emphasize that recovery is more than return-to-work – it’s about their emotional well-being, too.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of a robust injured-worker advocacy approach to workers compensation claims management. Here are three ways our advocacy efforts help drive positive outcomes for injured workers and customers.

1. Foster engagement and anticipate needs

In the beginning of the pandemic when there was a shift to working remotely, some injured workers worried about how interactions with claims specialists might change their experiences.

For example, most injured workers typically receive their claims payments by mail – a practice that could be disrupted due to the pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, our claims specialists mitigated concerns by contacting injured workers to check-in, validate their circumstances, and present options available to them if needed, such as activating electronic payments or home prescription delivery, Turpin explains. That proactive outreach gave employees peace of mind that they could quickly receive their benefits without delay, while also helping them feel more positive toward their employers.

“Even if we weren’t in the office, we wanted injured workers to know that they could get in touch with us and that necessary resources and options were available to them,” Turpin says.

2. Prioritize worker well-being

Thinking outside the box about what might help an injured worker – both physically and emotionally – also takes on new meaning in today’s situation.

As a result of COVID-19, many injured workers are managing more than their injuries and recoveries. “Some families are struggling to balance childcare and work. Others are home schooling or caring for ill loved ones,” explains Turpin.

With the pandemic leaving more people feeling isolated and stressed, it’s never been more critical to approach workplace injury-related absences with an empathetic point of view, Turpin says.

For claims specialists, this approach means putting workers’ well-being first — by helping to curb feelings of unrest brought on by added stressors, simplifying procedures, and engaging in ways that are most convenient. Beyond phone calls and emails, web portals, educational videos, and other tools can help explain and expedite the process – and are available at the worker’s own time and pace.

The takeaway: Every outreach should reassure injured workers that their claims and clinical teams are working in their best interests to prioritize their care and recovery, Turpin says.

3. Navigate care solutions

With many physicians, therapists, outpatient centers and hospitals limiting the number of patients they can see for routine appointments and non-emergency treatments, injured employees may face access-to-care issues. In lieu of in-person care, the use of telemedicine and tele-rehabilitation services is proving to be a valuable alternative to treat minor injuries and provide virtual physical therapy.  

While such technologies aren’t new to workers compensation, the during the shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic dramatically spurred their use as a claims-management strategy. Our data shows, for example, that telemedicine visits increased 5,000% between March and May of this year.

“As part of the claims management process, it’s vital for injured workers to continue their care and work towards recovery,” says Turpin. “And telemedicine kept these critical services going during the pandemic.”

Moving forward together

Investing the time and resources to promote injured worker advocacy gave our claims team the framework to continue to provide excellent care and deliver positive outcomes under tough circumstances. “We believe and see that when you treat injured workers with compassion and humanity, better results are achieved for the worker and the employer,” Turpin said. The outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic show that the injured worker advocacy strategy works and will continue to show results. To learn more, contact us today.

Ergonomics for working from home

Consider these ergonomic tips that help keep your remote workforce safer at home.

How is working from home working for you? 

Extended work from home has become the “new normal” for many companies. Families and individuals are navigating blurred boundaries between work and home, with unanticipated challenges and opportunities. This new reality necessitates new ergonomic tips that can help keep the remote workforce safer at home.

Ergonomics is a study of how humans interact of their surroundings, looking at full body posture, adjustability, and desk layout.

Are you setting up your home office? Check this resource for suggestions that will make your work environment comfortable and productive.

Neutral, relaxed body positions encourage low-force, low-repetition and minimal physical exertion while reducing strain on the body. Exaggerated positions may cause injuries and unnecessary exertion. 

Posture myths. 

Slouching only makes me look bad; it won’t cause long-term damage.

For every inch that the head moves forward in posture, the weight of the head on the neck is increased by roughly 10 pounds, leading to muscle strain and possible spinal injuries.

Sitting up straight helps decrease pain.

Getting up at regular intervals is more important than perfect posture. We recommend that you take a break and move every hour while working at your desk.

What does good look like? 

  • Follow the 90/90/90 rule: have your knees, elbows and hips at 90-degree angles
  • Keep your computer monitor at arm’s length
  • Position your keyboard so you would bend your wrists minimally or not at all
  • Keep your elbows and arms relaxed by your sides

As the current pandemic rapidly spread, many employees were not prepared to immediately switch to working from home. You may not have the perfect set-up, ergonomic furniture, or other resources that are readily available at the office. A few tips can help:

  • Take active breaks, stretch, go for a walk (try setting an alarm on your phone or work calendar)
  • Consider connecting your laptop to an external monitor or a TV
  • Adjust blinds and curtains in the room to help reduce screen glare
  • Use a hands-free headset when talking on the phone; avoid holding the phone between your ear and shoulder
  • Move your most used items to within arm’s reach
  • Substitute pillows for seat cushions
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • If possible, create a dedicated workspace and routine, and follow a similar schedule on workdays
  • Stay hydrated

To remind yourself to take an active break, follow these simple tips while working at your desk:

  • Pull your shoulder blades together.
  • Chin tucks will help release neck tension.
  • To ease the strain on your eyes, follow the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes look up from your screen at an object 20 (or more) feet away, for 20 seconds.

Additionally, the CDC has created the Physical Activity Breaks for Workplace Resource Guide. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise routine.

Ergonomic principles can make working remotely more manageable as you and your employees are able to stay on task while being comfortable and reducing the risk of injuries.

2020 workplace safety index: the top 10 causes of disabling workplace injuries

Explore our infographic to learn more about the ten most common causes of disabling workplace injuries and their costs.

The 2020 Workplace Safety Index (WSI) shows that the total cost of serious workplace injuries has exceeded $59 billion per year, or more than $1 billion per week.

The good news is, the vast majority of workplace injuries could be reduced or prevented through thoughtful, proactive risk control measures. And the first step is understanding how these accidents happen. That’s where Helmsman Management Services can help.

Created from research by Liberty Mutual Insurance, our 2020 WSI identifies the top 10 causes of serious workplace injuries — those that cause employees to miss work for at least five days. In addition, we’ve ranked them according to their direct cost to businesses, based on medical and lost-wage expenses.

The workplace safety index at a glance
Disabling workplace injuries cost businesses more than
$59 billion
per year.

Here are the facts:

$59 billion: total cost of disabling workplace injuries

$53 billion: total cost of the top 10 disabling workplace injuries
You can learn to protect your business — and your employees — by understanding how injuries happen.
Work with experienced professionals to help mitigate these risks.

The top 10 causes of workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses over $1 billion per week. Check out the top 10 causes of workplace injuries below.

The top 10 causes of disabling workplace injuries:

1. Handling objects | Cost per year $13.98B | Watch for: Those heavy boxes
2. Falls on same level | Cost per year $10.84B | Watch for: That wet floor
3. Being hit by objects | Cost per year $6.12B | Watch for: The falling object
4. Falls to lower level | Cost per year $5.71B | Watch for: That wobbly ladder
5. Awkward postures | Cost per year $4.69B | Watch for: That first step
6. Vehicles crashes | Cost per year $3.56B | Watch for: The distracted driver
7. Slip or trip without fall | Cost per year $2.06B | Watch for: Those slippery/uneven walkways
8. Repetitive motions involving microtasks | Cost per year $2.05B | Watch for: Hand-intensive work
9. Colliding with objects | Cost per year $2.0B | Watch for: That concrete pillar
10. Running equipment or machines | Cost per year $1.92B | Watch for: The moving machinery

Make sure to work with a trusted TPA to examine workplace injuries in your own business, and how you can effectively reduce those risks. Because a safer workplace isn’t just good for employees; it’s good for the bottom line.

1. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Overexertion involving outside sources” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
2. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Struck by object or equipment” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
3. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Other exertions or bodily reactions” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
4. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
5. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Struck against object or equipment” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.
6. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for “Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects” See BLS definitions manual for further detail.

Study Methodology:
The annual Workplace Safety Index is based on information from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Liberty Mutual and BLS injury data are analyzed to determine which events caused employees to miss five or more days of work. The index then ranks those events by total workers compensation costs, which include medical and lost-wage payments.

To capture accurate injury cost data, each index is based on data three years prior. Accordingly, the 2020 index reflects 2017 data.

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

How telemedicine can support injured workers and add value in workers compensation

With one in 10 workers compensation claims being suited for telemedicine, learn more about how this technology can benefit injured workers in their recovery. 1

Today, many companies’ group health programs offer telemedicine as an alternative way for employees to access medical services. And in the current environment where pandemics, severe weather, and other disruptions can limit access to in-person care, this technology is becoming even more important and prevalent. In the workers compensation claims management space, telemedicine is an option for helping injured workers receive treatment so they can recover and return to work.

The benefits of telemedicine for injured workers include:

  • Convenience: injured employees can get treatment for minor injuries that do not require an in-person physical exam, such as contusions and sprains, and can also receive rehabilitation services. In addition, treatment can be available at any time, including holidays, weekends, and late nights.
  • Efficiency: with telemedicine, employees have rapid access to the care they need, from home or in the workplace, which translates to no traveling and less waiting. On average, wait times can be reduced from two days to hours with telemedicine.2
  • Easy to use:  employees can access services using familiar technology that they already know and understand, via phone, laptop, or desktop. 

If your business is considering the use of telemedicine, you and your employees can feel secure knowing that their information is protected. Telemedicine visits comply with the same high patient privacy standards as ordinary medical visits and personal information is transmitted securely.

Offering care via telemedicine is part of our approach to advocacy and reducing the anxiety employees may feel after suffering workplace injuries. Because at Helmsman Management Services, we believe that a better experience translates into better outcomes for employees and employers.

Contact Helmsman Management Services to learn more about our solutions and services and download the PDF below for information to help injured workers become more comfortable with using telemedicine.

Download PDF

1 Helmsman Management Services internal data, 2019

2 Helmsman Management Services Medical Data Analytics, 2016-2019

This document is a general description of services offered. See your contract for actual terms and conditions. No duty or undertaking is intended or assumed by Liberty Mutual Insurance by this publication, as it is informational in purpose. 

Advocacy with action: cutting opioid use among injured workers by 40%¹

Helmsman’s long history of injured worker advocacy includes tackling the impact of opioids in workers compensation. This is reflected in how we work to build trust with injured workers and the use of data to create actionable insights.

Protecting workers, improving outcomes

expertise icon
workers comp icon
injured workers icon

 

Action equals progress!1

40%

fewer workers have received opioids

42%

fewer opioid prescriptions

39%

fewer opioid scripts in the first 90 days

43%

lower morphine equivalent dosage of opioids

Download PDF

1 Managed Care Analytics team, July 2019

4 Ways to Add Empathy and Advocacy to Workers Comp

A workplace injury does harm, not just to a person’s body, but to their fundamental sense of security. Injured and out of work, an employee’s suffering may be compounded by anxiety, one that may be unintentionally amplified by our traditionally opaque and task-oriented workers comp model. 

“Claims begin with an investigation, which right off the bat sets a negative tone,” said Wesley Hyatt, Senior Vice President, Workers Compensation Claims, Helmsman Management Services. “In the traditional model where only the compensable injury matters, injured workers can often feel as though no one truly cares about their well-being.”  

But there is a meaningful alternative: replacing antagonism with advocacy, rooted in genuine empathy for the injured. Although we may think of empathy as a subjective feeling, it can and should be a management objective achieved through deliberate action. 

Advocating for Empathy 

“We strongly believe that taking a more holistic and human approach produces better claim outcomes for both injured workers and their employers,” said David Dwortz, President, Helmsman Management Services. 

Fulfilling a more empathetic approach, however, demands a different kind of management mindset“The training can’t just be about the technical and medical components. We must train people on how to build that empathetic connection. Developing those soft skills is an ongoing process,” Hyatt said.  

In practice, a successful advocacy process begins with these four steps: 

Engage employers and employees.

Empathy, by definition, is personal, intimate, and direct. Employers can mitigate worker anxiety with manager compassion, beginning with the managers employees know best – the ones they directly work for and with.  

“Advocating for injured workers works best when the employer shares that same mission. For an injured worker, there’s nothing quite like having their manager express their support and a desire to have them back to work as soon as possible,” Dwortz said.  

Seek multiple ways to express empathy, from informal acts of kindness – such as “get-well-soon” cards – to formal recovery initiatives, such as counseling services and/or innovative opportunities: as an example of the latter, Helmsman sponsors volunteer efforts at local nonprofits as part of its return-to-work program. 

Go beyond tasks to anticipate needs.

Of course there are a number of procedures that must be fulfilled to streamline recovery. But when employers look beyond immediate need to anticipate looming concerns, they demonstrate a “pro-worker” attitude that is so much more than proforma. 

For example, when the Helmsman claims team learned that eight tornadoes had landed in May, 2019, they anticipated the consequences of the storms and helped workers in the tornadoes’ paths access medicines, clinical care, and claims payments.  

“Our people took that initiative on their own—and that demonstrates a real shift in mindset. The focus first and foremost is on helping people. Most of the people we contacted were surprised and touched by the effort taken to make sure they were okay,” said Hyatt. 

Prioritize convenience.

Calls, appointments, forms: these and many more procedural necessities can be experienced as bureaucratic nightmares by the very workers they are intended to help. 

“To make the claims experience as easy as possible for injured workers, we need to engage with them in ways that are most convenient for them. That means incorporating technologies that they want to use,” said Dwortz. 

For Helmsman, that means explaining the complete workers comp process, “soup to nuts,” with a personalized video message sent to each injured worker, available at their own time and pace.  

“We’re also piloting a ride-sharing program to help injured workers get to their medical appointments,” said Hyatt.  “They order the ride through an app on their smart phone just as they would for any other occasion and we cover the payment. Since the injured worker is using a familiar service, it’s one less thing for them to worry about.”

Speak their language. 

Workers comp has evolved a language of its own, one that may make perfect sense to risk professionals, but that can actually delay recovery by confusing workers.  

“Getting injured already adds a lot of stress to a person’s life, and the workers comp process often makes it worse because it’s so confusing to navigate. It’s our obligation to make it as simple as possible, and we decided to start by explaining things in a way that injured workers can more easily understand,” Hyatt said.  

After reviewing conversations between claims specialists and injured workers, Helmsman realized it could build worker confidence by simplifying claims vocabulary to be both more familiar and less intimidating. In Helmsman’s model, claims rhetoric is replaced with “real” language, such as:  

  • “compensable” to “covered” 
  • “electronic funds transfer” to “direct deposit” 
  • “lost time” to “recovery” 
  • “investigation” to “review” 
  • “closed” to “resolved”

Be an Advocate For Advocacy 

In an environment where retaining skilled workers is at a premium, worker advocacy has never been more important.  

“There is a fight for talent. For businesses, there is strategic advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, and that includes those who have been injured on the job. Helping injured workers recover and return to work is more important than ever,” said Dwortz.  

Today, advocacy remains a core Helmsman practice. “Advocacy has always been in our DNA, and now we’re taking it to the next level,” said Dwortz. “We are shifting the mindset from ‘How do I get this claim closed?’ to ‘How do I help this person?’ It’s a rewarding journey for everyone involved in the process.” 

 

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional adviser regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

Tech with a Personalized Touch

Five ways that technology can help deliver a more compassionate workers comp claims management process. 

5 Ways to Humanize the Workers Comp Claim Experience with Technology 

Consider the worker behind a workers compensation claim. Too often, physical injuries may be compounded by emotional anxiety and even confusion as workers do their best to manage their way through a potentially long and stressful process. 

Few occasions demand more of a personal touch. Emerging technology enabled by today’s widespread broadband connectivity may be the most promising way to deliver a more compassionate claims management process. 

“A newly sharpened focus on the injured worker and the increasing use of technology to identify trends and to simplify and expedite certain elements of the claims process are having a major impact on the management of workers compensation claims,” says Wesley Hyatt, Senior Vice President, Workers Compensation Claims, Helmsman Management Services. 

Consider the following five ways that recent technological advances can help us address a familiar issue: accelerating recovery by careful attention to worker needs. 

Begin with bots. 

To the injured party, “waiting” means “worry.” Anything the claims management team can do to accelerate and streamline the intake process automatically removes much of the initial anxiety that comes with claim submissions. 

Today, web robots or “bots” can reduce work for all parties involved, initiating the claims process digitally once a workers compensation claim is filed. Bot automation not only reduces intake time from hours to minutes, it liberates claim professionals from repetitive administrative tasks so that they can focus on more important, more personal interactions with injured workers. 

Reduce confusion with better communications. 

For most injured workers, the claims process is unwelcome – a new and unfamiliar world with few or no road maps for guidance. 

Adjusters can now provide guidance for the claims road ahead. Helmsman has developed SmartVideo, a program that creates a brief, personalized video for injured workers that explains: 

  • What to expect during the claims process 
  • How to contact their claims professional 
  • Claim-specific details, such as their claim number, claims status, and payment information 
  • Available resources, including pharmacy program information and how to look up medical providers

By communicating more effectively at the initiation of the claims professional-worker relationship, both parties can proceed on a common ground of knowledge and confidence. 

Make connections to coordinate care.

Once the relationship between the injured worker and the claims professional has been established, a variety of other parties – including doctors, facilities, pharmacies, and other care givers – must be integrated into the care coordination plan. 

Network coordination is always important, but during a crisis, such as a loss of power or transportation disruption, which can impede access to care, coordination becomes critical. By electronically connecting all parties, managers can build flexibility into recovery. Should access be denied in one area, coordination on a digital network can reassign treatments to available resources, or fulfill prescriptions from unaffected pharmacies, allowing progress to continue with minimal disruption. 

Fulfilling claim payments consistently.

A catastrophic event, such as a weather-related disaster, can not only interrupt the continuity of care, but delay or prohibit the distribution of compensation checks – exactly when the intended recipients need them the most. 

That’s why some third-party administrators (TPAs) such as Helmsman are supplementing the usual delivery of checks by mail with electronic funds transfer (EFT). When a mail interruption is anticipated, administrators can switch from mail to EFT, allowing employees to receive the funds they urgently need without delay. “It’s important,” says Hyatt, “to partner with a TPA who works collaboratively with their individual legal teams to break down the barriers that could prevent employees from receiving their workers compensation checks – including on-boarding technology to know when to move individuals on EFT in a crisis.” 

Preventing opioid abuse.

Although the healthcare industry has become more adept at intercepting potential opioid abuse, addiction remains a challenging concern. To address the problem, many TPAs are incorporating the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines into their claims management programs. 

Technology complements claims professional training by automatically “flagging” behaviors that could indicate a contradiction to the CDC guidelines; an unsuitable prescription, for example, would trigger an alert, encouraging providers to discuss the situation in-depth and suggest more appropriate treatment alternatives. “Since implementing CDC guidelines,” Hyatt says, “we have experienced a 9% reduction in patients being prescribed with opioids.” 

It’s About Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time

Technology is not a substitute for personal communications, but an important supplement that can save time, reduce anxiety, and accelerate recovery. Hyatt summarizes technology’s role succinctly: “When it comes down to it, it’s really about doing the right thing for the injured worker.” 

 

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional adviser regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.

 

2019 Top 10 Threats to Workplace Safety

No one would deny the importance of workplace safety. In fact, the 2019 Workplace Safety Index concludes that the total cost of the most disabling injuries (leading to five or more days of missed work) came to $55.43 billion, or more than $1 billion per week.

But are we paying attention to the most important threats? The Index ranks risks by direct costs to employers in medical and lost-wage payments, through the analysis of eight industries that account for the greatest proportion of workplace injuries.

  • $55.43 billion: Total cost of the most disabling workplace injuries
  • $46.93 billion: Combined cost of the top 10 most disabling injuries

The Index targets the root causes of injury that employers, risk managers, safety professionals – and employees themselves – must understand to effectively mitigate the suffering and expense of workplace incidents. Through education on the leading threats, all parties can work together to identify and fulfill the training, equipment, and work designs necessary to address root causes and reduce harm.

2019 Top 10 Threats In Order of Impact:

Study Methodology: 

The annual Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index is based on information from Liberty Mutual Insurance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance. Liberty Mutual and BLS injury data are analyzed to determine which events caused employees to miss more than 5 days of work. The Index then ranks those events by total workers compensation costs, which include medical and lost-wage payments.  

To capture accurate injury cost data, each Index is based on data three years prior. Accordingly, the 2019 Index reflects 2016 data. 

 

This website is general in nature, and is provided as a courtesy to you. Information is accurate to the best of Helmsman’s knowledge, but companies and individuals should not rely on it to prevent and mitigate all risks or as an explanation of coverage or benefits under an insurance policy. Consult your professional advisor regarding your particular facts and circumstance. By citing external authorities or linking to other websites, Helmsman is not endorsing them.