Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Safety
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2015.
Workplace injuries take a toll on employers and employees alike. Texas experiences over 50,000 workplace injuries a year that results in several days away from work for injured employees and lost productivity for employers. Most of the workplace injuries could have been prevented if the injured employees had received proper safety training and/or the employer had an effective accident prevention plan in place.
Who is Responsible for Workplace Safety?
Providing for a safe workplace environment is the responsibility of employers, employees and the employers’ workers’ compensation insurance company. An effective workplace safety program is beneficial to employers and employees alike.
According to the National Safety Council:
Each prevented lost-time injury or illness saves $37,000, and each avoided occupational fatality saves $1,390,000.
Over 60% of employers have reported that each $1 invested in injury prevention returned $2 or more, and over 40% said productivity was the greatest benefit of an effective workplace safety program.
Workplace accidents play out across all positions and responsibilities, e.g. the normal and efficient flow of business is disrupted, work is not taking place as the injured employee is off work being treated and recovering from the injury, and the employer must find a temporary replacement worker and train them. This all costs the employer money.
The business advantage to preventing workplace injuries and illnesses is clear. It saves money and protects an employer’s work force.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies Have Workplace Safety Resources Available to Their Policyholders
Insurance companies that underwrite workers' compensation policies in Texas are required by law to provide their policyholders with certain accident prevention services, including surveys, recommendations, training programs, consultations, analysis of accident causes, industrial hygiene, and industrial health services. Employers that carry workers' compensation insurance can request and receive assistance with their safety and health programs directly from their insurance company's loss control division. Insurance companies must also provide participating policyholders with return-to work coordination services, including job analysis, job modification and restructuring assessments, and medical or vocational case management.
The contact information for your insurance company's loss control division can be found on the front of your workers' compensation policy.
Workplace Safety Resources
Texas Department of Insurance’s Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC)
The DWC provides workplace safety resources to employers, employees, and other entities that support the Texas workforce to eliminate the occurrence of occupational injuries and hazardous exposures. Through its Workplace Safety Programs, DWC helps employers, employees, insurance carriers that underwrite workers compensation insurance and the policyholders of such carriers insurance with workplace safety and health issues.
The DWC’s workplace safety resources are available here.
National Safety Council (NSC)
The NSC also has workplace safety resources available on its website.
The NSC has workplace safety training that can be customized to fit the needs of an employer. Additionally, the NSC has driving training for employees who operate company vehicles and machinery.
NSC and Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Alliance
The NSC and OSHA have entered into an alliance agreement which aims to prevent workplace injuries, deaths and illnesses. Information about the NSC-OSHA Alliance and their combined efforts to promote workplace safety can be found at http://www.nsc.org/act/Pages/nsc-osha-alliance.aspx.