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.

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.