To Decrease Fraud, Tie Safety and Honesty Together

Tie Safety & Honesty together

 

As fraudulent claims become a bigger problem in California, companies and organizations must find new strategies to discourage them from ever being filed. All the emphasis today seems to be on finding ways to challenge and combat them; to deny benefits and trust the courts and the insurance companies to do the right thing. It’s a losing strategy.

 

The only effective way to minimize fraudulent claims is to prevent them from ever being filed in the first place. Since we have no way to impose our values, we must find ways to convince our workers to embrace those values; chief among them being honesty.

 

Just as we know that it’s the culture that has the greatest impact on behavior, and ultimately the number of injuries, we should also know that a strong culture can have the same impact on honesty. What we need to do is tie the two together. We can’t have a safety culture that doesn’t have honesty as part of that culture. And we can’t have a culture that values honesty that doesn’t value safe behavior. When we are investigating an injury we need candor and honesty from the person involved and any persons who witnessed the accident, so in every training and every meeting where we engage the workforce in the importance of safe behavior, we also need to reinforce the message that part of safe behavior is honesty. Our goal is to have the workforce take pride in their safety record, and since claims are part of that safety record, fraudulent claims inflict as much harm as legitimate injuries.

 

Every employee wants to know that the company values their safety, and they also want to know that they are working for a company that treats them with honesty and respect, and expects the same back from every worker. By making honesty a key component of the safety culture, you bring out the best in people, and enlist their support in encouraging others to be both safe and honest.

Step Up, Owners!

Whose responsibility is it to control the cost of workers’ compensation? The Safety Manager? The Human Resource Manager? The CFO? Or is it the responsibility of the Owner, General Manager, or CEO?
It’s a missed opportunity if the leader of the organization doesn’t take advantage of his position to impact all the factors that affect the ultimate cost of workers’ compensation to his business. Nobody is in a better position to establish that safety is the highest priority in the company.

There’s another factor at play these days that makes it imperative that the Boss steps up: fraud. Fraudulent claims are particularly expensive, as they are often litigated. Whether the claim happened away from work but is being reported as if it happened at work, or is a phantom injury that never occurred, or is the exaggeration of a small injury, these claims have nothing to do with safety training and OSHA compliance. They have everything to do with the culture of the organization, and no one is in a better position to establish and reinforce the culture than the owner, GM, or CEO. While it may be an uncomfortable talk to give, when the highest ranking officer in the company addresses the issue of fraud with the current workforce, and with every new employee, it establishes that honesty is as important as safety, and when honesty is embraced as a company value, not only do fraudulent claims go down, but the entire culture is stronger. The result is always positive, because a stronger culture produces fewer claims and reduces workers’ compensation costs.

What do you tell a new employee about workers’ compensation?

How much-or how little- should you tell a new employee about workers’ compensation insurance?

Some employers believe that the more an employee understands how workers’ comp works, the more likely they are to realize that fraud is easily perpetrated. The more likely they are to realize that there is an opportunity to turn an injury that happened away from work, where they will have to pay for treatment, into one that happened at work, where they pay nothing.

 

There is an undeniable truth to that. However, ignorance is not bliss, and it is better to provide full information on the workers’ compensation system. Informing workers on why the system exists, and how the system protects them, is an opportunity to promote your commitment to their safety, and to their health and well-being. Explaining how workers’ comp insurance protects them, also allows you the opportunity to cover the importance of honesty, of full disclosure on how an accident happened, and on the importance of reporting an injury immediately, so that medical treatment can be provided expediently.

 

This full discussion also affords you the opportunity to emphasize that workers’ comp fraud will not be tolerated, and that any questionable report of an injury will be investigated. Companies that have the greatest success in deterring fraudulent claims are those that set expectations immediately with every new employee. We recommend that this should be part of the on- boarding process. Discouraging even one fraudulent claim provides the company with a significant financial benefit, and is worth a thoughtful approach to how you cover this challenging subject.

Remember: Safety has Two Parts

Safe Behavior 2017

 

 

As you make plans for a safer year in 2017, remember that safety has two distinct parts. The first part serves as the foundation: comprehensive safety training for every employee, and full OSHA compliance.

 

The second part is the greater determinant of injuries and claims: BEHAVIOR.

 

A company can do everything right in making the workplace safe and ensuring that everyone is well-trained, but still suffer too many injuries. The attitude of the workforce towards safety, honesty, and integrity is what makes the difference. An acceptance of careless accidents, or occasional risk-taking, produces a different result than an attitude where the workforce takes pride in doing their job the right way and staying injury free. To create a sense of pride, find a way to get workers fully engaged in your safety program. Engaging the workforce, and turning it into their safety program creates a sense of ownership, and ownership is the ultimate key to safety.

 

For strategies on engaging workers, creating ownership and reducing injuries and claims, contact us at info@bridgeconsultants.net

In Defense of Safety Incentives

Incentive Definition Magnifier Shows Encouragement Enticing And MotivationOSHA seems to be, once again, determined to limit safety incentive plans. Their basic position is that incentives cause more injuries to go unreported, than injuries prevented. So they are threatening some form of punishment if companies do not agree with them, and instead want to keep their safety incentive plans just as they are.

 

There is obviously no hard data to support OSHA’s claim. In my experience, they are incorrect by a whopping number. It is crystal clear that providing workers with incentives to do their job in the safest possible way, to look out for each other, and to suffer as few injuries as possible, is a very good thing for everyone.

 

If the incentive plan is a winner-take-all, with one huge prize, OSHA has a valid point. But most plans are not structured like this, and can be very effective in raising awareness and reducing the number of injuries. The value of incentives is that they can work extremely well in making safety a higher priority. It isn’t just the money that motivates people; it’s the value that a company or an organization is placing on safety, and more specifically, their personal safety. To have the chance to win awards and rewards for doing the right thing-staying safe-is a motivator to do the right thing. There is no justification for carelessness or risk-taking, so behavior can change when there are reasons to do so. Not everyone is naturally safe, so creating an environment where safety is the highest priority absolutely influences everyone to act more safely.

 

One of the best things about incentives is that it gives the company a chance to provide recognition, but OSHA seems oblivious to this. In fact, the recognition portion of a good safety incentive program is as important as the financial reward. Being on a safe team that is being recognized for their safety record, and where everyone has won $25, is more about the recognition than the money. Feeling appreciated is by itself a positive motivator. However, money, or gift cards, or other reward is important, because it shows that there is a tangible value placed on safety. A hearty handshake is certainly appreciated, but back it up with a reward, and you’ve increased the value of staying safe, and for doing your job the right way.

 

As for the standard argument that everyone should perform their jobs safely without any extra incentive, I agree. However, human nature intrudes, and as with a thousand other jobs, a reward for accomplishing goals -in this case for staying safe- is a win for everyone. For an outline of a successful incentive plan, see here.

 

OSHA dislikes using hard and fast measurements, particularly number of injuries that occur. In my thinking, measuring a company’s improvement is legitimately measured by a reduction in injuries. Of course I want to consider other metrics, but at the end of the day, if we’re not preventing injuries from occurring, we’re not doing our job well.

OSHA’s New Drug Testing Policy is Wrong

just say no to drug testsNot for the first time, OSHA has it absolutely backwards with their new policy on drug testing in the workplace. Their emphasis on reporting injuries supersedes what should be their priority, preventing injuries.
 
OSHA no longer permits mandatory drug testing after an accident. Here’s what OSHA’s commentary on May 12, 2016 says about an employer’s right to have a policy that requires drug testing after a workplace accident:
Although drug testing of employees may be a reasonable workplace policy, it is often perceived as an invasion of privacy. Drug testing policies should limit post incident testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use. Employers who continue to have a policy of mandatory drug testing after an accident will face penalties and additional enforcement scrutiny.
 
OSHA has the legitimate goal of having all incidents and injuries reported. Employers already want to do this because treating an injury as soon as it happens often minimizes the pain and suffering, and can keep a minor injury from getting much worse. Think of treating a cut immediately as opposed to ignoring it and running the risk of an infection. In their zeal to remove all potential deterrents to the reporting of an injury, they have unwittingly opened the door to more injuries.
 
Common sense and experience tell us that when a workforce knows that there is no mandatory drug testing, there is a greater likelihood of drug use. Knowing that the company has a policy of drug testing after every accident acts as a legitimate deterrent, for the good of everyone. A workplace depends on safe behavior, and it is far more likely that unsafe decisions will be made when reasoning and concentration are impaired. A high percentage of accidents happen due to carelessness and workers not paying attention to the tasks at hand. Again, this is far more likely when drugs are involved. Accidents are not limited to the person whose unsafe behavior is the cause; serious accidents often involve more than one person so the safety of others in the workforce is at risk when there is no deterrent to drug use.
 
Here is the bottom line: Instead of protecting employers and the people who work for them, OSHA’s new directive protects drug users. Establishing a policy of mandatory drug testing serves the interest of everyone in the company. Limiting the company’s ability to drug test protects only the offenders, at the expense of everyone else.

Getting Employee Buy-In on Safety

Construction worker repairman thumb up, safety first, health and safety warning signs, vector illustrator

One of the greatest challenges for any business concerned with safety is getting buy-in from the people most likely to suffer injuries. Excellent training and an environment free of hazards are no match for a workforce that doesn’t subscribe to performing their jobs safely. No training can overcome risky behavior or a careless approach to the job.
 
For management, creating buy-in starts with acknowledging that safety cannot be imposed, no matter how much they desire an injury- free workplace. In order to have safe results, it is imperative that the workforce buy in to the notion that it is their behavior – the decisions that they make – that determines the outcome. Criticism, threats, and even discipline are reactions to bad behavior, but are not effective long-term motivators. They don’t change the safety culture, and it’s the culture that needs changing, because it is the culture that determines the safety record.
 
In order to buy in to the company’s safety program, workers must be participants. They must interact and feel like it’s their safety program. That safety is them and by them.

1. Encourage safety suggestions, and don’t let the suggestion box gather cobwebs. Reward meaningful suggestions. Acknowledge every reasonable suggestion. Inform the workforce when action is being taken, or why action is not necessary. Even when the suggestions are not helpful, making them a bigger part of your safety program gets workers thinking about ways they can do their jobs safer and more efficiently, and that helps build the foundation of a safety culture.
 
2. Encourage participation, and don’t let safety meetings be a one-way communication. Find ways to involve workers in demonstrations of the proper way to do a job, or to point out a potential hazard, or to explain a near miss. Solicit suggestions and get input. Every time the workforce is together for a meeting is an opportunity to get greater involvement and greater involvement means greater buy-in.
 
3. Acknowledge, recognize, and show appreciation. For a workforce performing job tasks that are physically demanding, getting recognition and feeling appreciated for doing jobs the right way, breaks down a barrier that often exists between management and workers. When a worker feels appreciated, he is far more likely to want to be a part of the team and the company, and that’s the essence of buy-in.