From June through September, workers compensation claims at small businesses are at their peak, according to an analysis of Travelers' claims data. Lower back strains and other back-related injuries and injuries from slips, trips and falls are the most common, and workers under 30 years old comprise almost one third of those sustaining on-the-job injuries.
"This year marks the 100th anniversary of workers compensation insurance and Travelers continues to help business owners keep employees safe and healthy by encouraging them to adopt key risk management techniques," said Marc Schmittlein, President and Chief Executive Officer, Travelers Small Commercial. "By taking even small steps, businesses can enhance employee health and manage the costs associated with workers' injuries."
Travelers Risk Control professionals recommend the following risk management tips to help business owners:
• Sound Hiring Practices - Summer is a particularly high traffic time for many businesses and hiring new full- and part-time employees is a common way business owners meet the increased demand. Businesses need to evaluate current hiring practices when recruiting new employees, especially considering that, on average, employees in their first year on the job have a higher incidence of injuries than those with more tenure. Making workplace safety part of the screening process is therefore paramount. Employers should inquire about a prospective employee's attitude toward safety issues during the hiring process.
• Orientation and Training - Regardless of the background or experience of an employee, it is critical that business owners orient and train all employees in safe work practices and procedures. Safety training of any sort should include: a focus on emergency procedures; a review of safe work practices; a reminder about required personal protective equipment; and a review of employee protocol should an accident occur. The formality of the training will vary based on the complexity of the task.
• Active Supervision - Promoting safe work practices through active supervision is a key component of mitigating workers compensation risks. Reinforcing the fact that the safety practices and procedures in place will protect employees is an important responsibility for all small business owners. Remembering to keep feedback upbeat and positive also promotes a productive and safe environment.
• Accident Response - Business owners need to ensure that employees understand that there is a process in place in the event they do get injured on the job. This process allows employees to get the necessary care and attention they need in a prompt fashion from a qualified physician. Doing so will help expedite employees' recovery and minimize the impact an injury has on their family and work life, which ultimately benefits business owners.
Schmittlein continued, "Employees are a small business's most important resource. With the proper risk management and workers compensation coverage, small business owners can help ensure that employees who sustain an injury while working are able to get the proper medical attention they need, getting them back to work faster."