Many employers may see their Workers’ Compensation premiums increase for 2012. Fully Effective Employees, employee assistance program can help employers reduce their liability while preventing expensive claims and reducing the amount of time an employee is off work. Prevention is key- offering support to employees and awareness for employers of the causes of increased WC claims will go a long way to reduce costs. Behavioral risk factors including, attendance, performance issues, depression and drug and alcohol abuse are all known to be associated with workplace accidents, injuries and even fatalities.
The first step employers can take is to provide a drug testing program. Research shows that employees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in on the job accidents and 5 times more likely to injure themselves or someone else. They are also five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim.
When employees are impaired, their judgment, response time and reflexes are also impaired. Letting all employees know that your company will be conducting pre-employment, random and post-accident drug testing will discourage drug users from working for you. Over the years, we have found that the companies with the highest compensation rates are the ones that don’t drug test. Obviously, more drug users work for companies that don’t drug test.
Next, employers should use their EAP to help all employees who test positive for drugs. The EAP can assess the client, refer him for treatment if indicated, and monitor his progress in treatment. The EAP will continue to provide support once treatment has been completed when he is at the greatest risk for relapse.
Employers could also refer all employees to the EAP when they are injured. The client can choose to confidentially discuss issues related to the injury, including relationship and communication issues with co-workers and family members. The EAP counselor can assess whether there are pre-existing issues or if the employee is at risk for malingering, depression, or drug abuse due to prescription medication or untreated substance abuse issues that occured prior to the claim. The EAP counselor can assist the employee with a return to work plan, preparing him or her for a change in job function or an adjustment to work as soon as possible. The result of working with the EAP is that injured employees may be more likely to return to work sooner and be less likely to abuse the WC benefits. The EAP would also provide follow up and support to the worker after he has returned to work.
The back to work plan is essential. Supervisors should be encouraged to avoid conflicts with employees via telephone or by email with injured workers. Research has shown that supervisor and co-worker conflicts figure prominently in increased injury recovery times and protracted absenteeism of injured workers. In addition, a zero tolerance policy should be implemented for harassing employees on light duty. If a medical doctor has approved an employee to return to work on light duty, co-workers should not be permitted to guilt, influence or intimidate a recovering worker to participate in unapproved work activities. (www.workexcel.net)
Our staff at Fully Effective Employees will meet with your company safety or human resources manager to discuss the role the EAP can play in helping you to prevent and reduce your WC claims. We can discuss your risk exposure, safety plans, training, and assist with a drug testing program. These services are all part of our program to provide both an employee and employer assistance program. Once you have implemented this plan, you should be able to provide evidence of your program to prevent and reduce WC claims ,which should result in lower rates for the following year. The added bonus is a safer workplace and healthier, happier or more loyal employees.