For employers, workers’ compensation is something of a mixed blessing. Because it protects them from being sued by their injured workers, it both lowers their overall costs and provide a relatively fixed cost from year to year. But employers, perhaps spoiled by more than a century in Wisconsin of that protection, would like to lower their costs even more.
They often want to do that through the political process, by forcing a reduction in the benefits workers’ compensation insurance pays to injured workers. Of course, workers and their advocates have fought this initiative. They know that lowering the amount of money they receive for their injuries will in no way lessen the severity of their injuries and it will make life more difficult for their families.
Ironically, employers already have a powerful means of reducing their workers’ compensation insurance expenses. It really is as simple as creating a safe workplace. Now, creating a safe workplace is often not a simple task, but having the commitment to ensure a safe workplace for your employees is essential.
You do need a plan, trained people to carry out the plan and a willingness to spend some money, as a poorly designed and executed plan that is underfunded is probably worse than no plan at all. It sends a message to your employees that you truly do not care about their health or safety and are attempting to protect them with platitudes and marketing slogans.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce provides information employers can use and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a great deal of information for setting up safety programs and providing training for your employees.
You can also work with workers’ compensation attorneys who can advise businesses on creating successful safety programs. A well-organized and adequately funded program can help to lower your overall costs and demonstrate to your workers that they are valued.