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Employer Solutions | 16 days ago

The Changing Face of Workers' Compensation

On-the-job injuries can happen in any number of scenarios. First and foremost, there’s the human element to consider. Speaking financially, company leadership must provide this assistance while also keeping an eye on the bottom line.

By Lawrence Raymond, MD, medical director, Carolinas HealthCare System HEALTHWORKS

An employee catches their toe on the carpet while walking between meetings and falls, spraining their wrist when they hit the ground. A delivery driver slips on a patch of ice, cracking his tailbone on the cement. A cafeteria employee doesn’t realize a pan is fresh from the oven and burns their hand when they try to pick it up.

On-the-job injuries can happen in any number of scenarios. From minor muscle tweaks to serious accidents, any incident presents two immediate challenges for an employer. First and foremost, there’s the human element to consider. Companies employ real people and are managed by real people. As a result, the initial instinct on a purely human level should be to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that the team member is brought back to full health with as little stress as possible. However, there’s also a business perspective to consider. Speaking financially, company leadership must provide this assistance while also keeping an eye on the bottom line.

This balance is just one of the factors that makes managing workers’ compensation claims so challenging.

Hazardous Workplace

Today’s modern office environments are considered far safer than those of times past - but  that doesn’t make them completely safe. Data shows that more than 900,000 employees suffer injuries that lead to some level of disability each year, and more than 4,500 of those are fatal. [BA2] The truly startling statistic is that experts believe the disabling injury figure is not accurate. In fact, they believe about twice as many employees are seriously hurt on the job each year, but many injuries are not properly reported.

While rules and regulations can vary by state, employers have a legal obligation to address and report any significant injury that occurs in the workplace. Every HR representative should arm employees with workers’ compensation guidelines as soon as they’re hired. In addition to training employees in proper safety techniques and operations, every employee should know what to do in the event a team member is hurt on the job and how to appropriately file a report on the subject.

Changes Coming

Whether an established company or an emerging startup, employers must be aware that the workers’ compensation system is constantly evolving. For example, North Carolina will move to a formulary system in 2018 which will impact approvals of certain medications. The goal of this is to help curtail abuse of certain medications, such as opioids, that can be addictive and harmful if left unchecked. North Carolina employers may also see new guidelines introduced for evaluating and managing workers’ compensation cases.

Estimates suggest this will save the state of North Carolina about $3 million annually and will likely be adopted by other states across the country in the coming years. Of course this means that employers must prepare for the new policies should an employee need assistance. Now is an ideal time to review the proposed changes, consult with your leadership team to identify how these shifts will impact your specific company and begin to assemble resources so you can assist employees who are in need of care.

In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at how employers can help mitigate workers’ comp scenarios and some best practices for working with an injured employee. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter (@HEALTHWORKS) and LinkedIn for the latest news and information regarding workplace health and wellness.