Wellness Programs: The New Defense Against Workers’ Compensation Claims
By Kelley Palmer, Wellness Specialist
Most employers seek a return on their investment from company wellness programs in the form of reduced claims and health care premiums. But did you know that company wellness programs can also lower workers’ compensation and disability-related costs? It’s true. Healthier employees have fewer workers’ compensation claims.
Personal wellness factors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking and poor physical condition often lead to increased injury and/or complicate the recovery process. Consider this:
- Employees who are in poor physical condition are more prone to sprains/strains than those employees that are physically fit.
- A person who is physically fit with strong back muscles can pick up a 50lb object and move it without a problem.
- Moving the same object by a person in poor physical condition can result in a herniated disk if they do not have the back muscles developed to support the spine.
- If that same person is obese, you can add on an additional six months of total disability benefits and doctor’s visits to the claim while they work to lose the required weight needed to have a successful surgical repair1.
Studies show that:
- Workers’ comp claims rise with a worker’s BMI (Body Mass Index), studies reveal that smokers are more likely to have a workplace injury and that
- Diabetics incur five times higher workers’ comp medical costs when injured2.
- A person with uncontrolled diabetes who gets injured on the job could be the result of dizziness or poor concentration related to their condition.
- A smoker with a fracture will take much longer to heal than a non-smoker.
Keeping the workplace safe from hazards and in compliance is just one piece of the puzzle. Managing employee health risk factors can be a very effective tool in driving down workers’ comp costs and keeping employees safer in the workplace2.
Breaking down the silos that may exist between the Human Resources departments that handle wellness programs and the Risk Management departments that handle worker’s compensation claims can often be a challenge. Both may operate independently of each other, but have goals to keep their employees safe and healthy. Signal’s wellness partner, Unify Health Service, is the resource to assist in developing comprehensive employee wellness programs that targets occupational safety while jointly addressing the chronic health conditions that drive up your workers’ compensation costs.
- Stack, Michael. (December 3rd, 2011). The Wellness Program: Proven Methods to Reduce Workers Compensation Claims. http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/the-wellness-program-proven-methods-to-reduce-workers-compensation-claims/
- Perata, Curt. (March 24, 2015). How a Healthy Workforce Makes the Workplace Safer and Lowers Workers’ Comp Costs. http://ohsonline.com/Blogs/The-OHS-Wire/2015/03/Healthy-Workforce.asp