Workers’ compensation insurance costs are an expensive reality for every employer. In the healthcare industry, in particular, insurance premiums are increasing, workplace violence in healthcare is on the rise, and employee turnover and absenteeism stand at an all-time high. In no other industry do institutions rely more heavily on the health of their workforce than in healthcare. So how do organizations protect their employees while minimizing costs? Implementing a robust workplace safety plan creates a safer workplace and mitigates the costs associated with workers’ compensation insurance. By preventing injuries and workplace violence in healthcare, an effective workplace safety plan contributes to a culture of safety that facilitates employee retention and job satisfaction.
The High Cost of Employee Injury
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers in the US pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. The direct costs of workplace injury include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, and costs for legal services. The cost of workers’ compensation insurance varies among industries. The factors used to calculate premiums include:
- Payroll: how many employees work at the organization?
- Industry: how likely is injury or workplace violence to occur?
- Type of work: do specific tasks make employees more susceptible to injury or workplace violence?
- Claims history: what is the employer record of past workers’ compensation claims?
The greater the number of employees, the higher the likelihood of injury or incident. Hospital systems and other caregiving institutions with large numbers of employees, therefore, pay large premiums. The general safety of an industry is also taken into account when calculating insurance premiums. Unfortunately, rising incidents of workplace violence in healthcare make hospitals and other clinical settings increasingly dangerous places to work. And the intensive physical requirements of nursing and related healthcare jobs have always placed employees at some risk of injury. According to the Washington Post, in many states, “being a nurse is more dangerous than being a police officer or a prison guard. It’s a profession with a stunning amount of violence.”
An institution’s claims history also plays a large role in determining its workers’ compensation costs. In many states, insurers use an experience modification number or rating. This workers’ compensation insurance rating is based on an organization’s claims history. Institutions with a minimal number of workers’ compensation claims may have an experience modification number below 1.00. A number greater than 1.00 means the organization has a history of claims. The higher the number, the greater the cost to the employer.
Risky Workplaces Have Indirect Costs
Healthcare organizations are well aware of the direct costs associated with workers’ compensation and insurance premiums. But on-the-job accidents and injuries, including incidents of workplace violence, also have high indirect costs. When employees are injured or experience an incidence of workplace violence, the organization may have to:
- Train replacement employees
- Adjust employee schedules
- Investigate accidents and create injury reports
- Repair or replace damaged equipment or property
- Implement corrective measures
Injuries and incidents of workplace violence often negatively impact productivity. Lowered employee morale and absenteeism are also common. Given these realities, the indirect costs of incidents and injury are a substantial threat to the effectiveness of any healthcare organization. Worker injury and workplace violence impede caregivers’ ability to provide high-quality patient care.
Keeping Employees Safe Lowers Costs
To lower workers’ compensation costs, employers should begin with employee safety. They should seek to make their institutions as safe as possible to minimize the chances of injury and workplace violence in healthcare. Having a policy in place can save organizations significant money in the long run, making it easier to manage profits and losses by reducing out-of-pocket financial liability in the event of an employee injury. In the healthcare industry, “injury” refers to physical injury but also, increasingly, the adverse mental health effects resulting from incidents of workplace violence in healthcare.
Employers can start by creating a workplace safety plan. According to workplace safety experts, this safety plan should:
- Make health and safety a priority.
- Get workers involved in shaping your workplace safety program.
- Prioritize training staff members in safety protocols.
- Encourage workers to report hazards.
- Work to eliminate hazards.
- Include periodic reassessment.
- Inform everyone, including contractors, of safety standards.
- Be enacted by staff at all levels, including administration.
A robust safety program includes not only concrete efforts to minimize injury, but also training, open lines of communication, and organizational self-reflection. To create a culture of safety, employers must go beyond mere policy changes.
Doing so can result in huge cost savings! Beyond preventing accidents, employers must create sound safety procedures designed to facilitate continual improvement. A robust OSHA-compliant safety program can reduce injuries, illnesses, and workplace violence in healthcare. As a result, a safety program saves organizations workers’ compensation dollars.
Tips for Creating a Workplace Safety Plan
According to occupational health experts, a workplace safety plan is fundamental to keeping employees safe. An effective plan also includes:
- Education for employees and management staff
- Research on safety vulnerabilities
- Personal protection equipment
- Adequate staffing levels
- Ongoing monitoring of safety measures
To keep healthcare workers safe, safety policies must be accompanied not only by employee training but also by rigorous ongoing research and monitoring of safety policies and systems.
CENTEGIX CrisisAlert Offers Robust Safety Protections
The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert system features wearable emergency buttons employees can use to call for help at any time, from anywhere on a hospital or clinic campus. When an employee activates their wearable emergency button, CrisisAlert displays the data associated with the alert on an easily accessible dashboard. This detailed information gives administrators a clear picture of where, when, and why injuries or incidents of workplace violence in healthcare occur. This can inform subsequent decisions about where to provide further training and support. CrisisAlert is a valuable resource for monitoring and refining an institution’s safety protocols.
CENTEGIX CrisisAlert can be installed with minimal disruptions to an organization’s infrastructure and daily work environment. At healthcare facilities where patient care is ongoing, infrastructure changes aren’t always feasible and can take months to complete. CrisisAlert can be installed with no alterations to an institution’s physical structure or electrical wiring and minimal disruption to patient care.
Employees who know their safety is a priority are more likely to stay for the long term, enjoy high job satisfaction, and provide effective patient care. CENTEGIX CrisisAlert, by giving employees wearable access to help in any emergency, creates a climate of employee safety. In doing so, it nurtures a positive work environment while minimizing the indirect costs of workers’ compensation insurance. By aiding administrators in making proactive safety decisions and giving employees instant access to help in emergencies, CrisisAlert helps create a culture where people feel empowered in the moments that matter.
CENTEGIX is the leader in incident response solutions. Our CrisisAlert platform is the fastest and easiest way for staff to call for help in any emergency, from the everyday to the extreme. CENTEGIX creates safer spaces by innovating technology to empower and protect people, and leaders nationwide trust our safety solutions to provide peace of mind. To learn more about CENTEGIX, visit www.centegix.com.