Employee Training: The Key to Controlling Workers Compensation Cost

The following article has been submitted by franchisEssentials Guest Author, Margaret Spence, CWC, RMPE – President/CEO of Douglas Claims & Risk Consultants, Inc. and WorkCompSeminars.com. Margaret is a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Consultant, Speaker and Trainer who ranks among the experts in the field of injury management and return to work implementation. For more than two decades, she has managed workers’ compensation claims for Fortune 500 Corporations, Public Entities and small businesses. She is an expert at showing companies how to slash their workers’ compensation cost by implementing strategies that drastically reduce injury rates, increase productivity and energize employees to work safely. She also is the author of – From Workers’ Comp Claimant to Valued Employee. Margaret pioneered adding National Return to Work Week to the 2009 US calendar – this week highlights the importance of implementing Return-to-Work or Stay-at-Work Programs. To learn more about Margaret please visit her website at www.cdouglasrms.com.

Employee Training: The Key to Controlling Your Workers Compensation Cost

Imagine if you could hire the right candidate, keep them safe and retain them for years to come? As your company grapples with layoffs, budget shortages and declining profits – is this realistic? Can you balance employee retention, injury prevention and economic sustainability? The answer is easy – in tough economic times businesses can not afford to overlook retention and injury prevention. Training is the key to sustaining profits, decreasing workers’ compensation cost and retaining employees.

How would you rate your company’s training program? (a) Exceptional – (b) Great – (c) Adequate – (d) Needs Improvement

Most employers rate their training programs as Great to Adequate; in reality most programs need drastic improvement.

Insurance cartoonThe typical employer describes their training program in the following manner: “Well, we have new employees come in to the HR Department to complete the hire package, then we go over their benefits, we show them a safety video and then we send them to their department for job-specific training.” What the employer is actually saying – new employees are put into a buddy situation, you are asking their co-workers to train them to do the job. Guess what —this is not training! That is passing the torch from Employee A to Employee B.

With this scenario, you are hoping that Employee A, your superstar employee, will pass down all of the requirements for the job. In reality, Employee A is frustrated because she has to train all of the new employees without additional pay, and she passes down her bad habits, her frustrations and what I like to call her accumulated employee baggage to Employee B. Before Employee B has a chance to get her feet wet, she is already forming a negative opinion of your company. Before long, you are totally surprised when Employee B is injured and out on workers’ compensation. What went wrong? You failed to provide the employee with adequate training to prevent the injury – you created a “tribal training program”.

As employers, you have to stop passing the torch – or doing what I call “tribal training”. In the olden days information was passed down from generation to generation using verbal queues, thousands of years later, employers are still doing this every day when they hire new employees. Employers have to recognize that “tribal training” is not training at all – job specific, formal, documented training is what prevents injuries. Like a cookie cutter, every employee in the same job should have the same training – Consistency.

Where should you start?

a. Determine the specifics tasks required to do the job.
b. Determine the essential functions and demands of the jobs.
c. Write a clear job description that addresses the minimum requirements to do the job safely.
d. Determine the safety rules that should apply to the job or work areas.
e. Determine the minimum competency required to do the job safely.

Use this information to create a Training Matrix that charts the job task, minimum competency required to do the job, the safety requirements and a time table for the employee to achieve competency in the position. Then use this information to develop your training classes and start training your employees – Simple.

Do not accept experience for training, even if employees come to your job site with impressive amounts of experience. The previous employer may have done things the right way, but they may not have; the employee may have been adequately trained to perform the job, but he or she may not have been. It is up to you to provide training specific to your work environment and the job tasks you are asking your employees to perform.

Remember training should be an ongoing initiative, not a one shot deal. It should be Simple, Specific and Consistent. As the Employer you must recognize that bad hiring decisions and improper training programs can increase the likelihood that an employee will be injured. Spend the money to train your employees correctly—from the beginning. If you evaluate the overall cost of one workers’ compensation claim—including: the loss of manpower, the administrative cost to manage an injured employee, the workers’ compensation premium cost and the overtime to cover jobs that would have been done by the injured worker—you will see the cost benefits of integrating an effective training program that emphasizes safety into your workplace.

osha messageThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), mandates that you provide training to your employees. In today economic climate, most employers are asking their employees to do more with less staffing, it is imperative that your employees are highly trained and remain injury free. The most cost effective scenario is preventing injuries not managing them. In this economy, you can not afford to continue the training scenarios of the past. Job specific training will ensure that your company moves from one that is trying to survive, to one that is looking for new ways to thrive.

One thought on “Employee Training: The Key to Controlling Workers Compensation Cost

  1. Hi Paul,

    This is good stuff. The article made me go back to when I worked at a retail store in a mall and was training for a sales associate job… You are right, the frustrations really were passed down from management all the way down to me!

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