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How Businesses Can Mitigate the Risks of Employee Injuries

How Businesses Can Mitigate the Risks of Employee Injuries

Nov. 6, 2023
The Travelers Injury Impact report found that an employee’s time spent in a particular role was a driving factor in injury frequency and age was a driving factor in the cost of claims.

A recent report, The 2023 Travelers Injury Impact Report, analyzed more than 1.2 million workers compensation claims submitted from 2016 through 2020.The data is based on lost time claims from those accident years.

Rich Ives, Travelers' vice president of workers compensation claims, and Chris Hayes, assistant vice president for workers compensation and transportation for Travelers, discuss the findings:

What are the conclusions of the report?

Ives: In the 2023 Travelers Injury Impact Report, we analyzed five years of our workers compensation claim data to identify trends that could help businesses better understand and mitigate workplace safety risks. We found that an employee’s time spent in a particular role was a driving factor in injury frequency and that an employee’s age was a driving factor in the cost of claims. For instance, our data showed that more than one-third (34%) of all workers compensation claims analyzed involved injured employees in their first year on the job.

This is especially important as we continue to see an increase in workplace turnover across industries, because businesses are regularly onboarding new employees who could be at greater risk for injury. Also, the workforce continues to be multigenerational, with the number of older employees growing as a percentage of the workforce. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of people in the workforce 65 and older will account for more than 60% of the growth in the labor force by 2030 

The Injury Impact Report also looked at some of the most common causes of injury, with overexertion taking the top spot (29% of claims analyzed), which could include strains or injuries resulting from twisting, reaching, lifting or jumping. The second most frequent were slips, trips and falls (23%), followed by being struck by an object (13%), motor vehicle accidents (5%), and caught-in or caught-between hazards (5%).

We found the most common resulting injuries were:

strains and sprains (38%), fractures (13%), contusions (8%), dislocations (7%), and inflammation (7%). The lower back was the most frequently injured body part (13%), followed by shoulders (12%), knees (10%), fingers (6%), and wrists (6%).

What can businesses do to help reduce the likelihood of workplace injuries?

Hayes: We tell our customers that preventing workplace injuries starts with attracting and hiring qualified job candidates. Interviews can help you establish whether the candidate has the appropriate experience and training for the position. During the conversation, ask safety-related questions to help determine if the prospective employee shares your company’s safety values.

Once a new employee has accepted a position, onboarding and training programs can play a crucial role in helping them work safely and effectively. Make sure that these programs clearly define objectives, such as following safe job procedures and recognizing unsafe conditions, and reinforce those objectives through leading by example.

Next, review your programs periodically to see if these strategies have kept employees safe. Look at the accidents that have occurred to identify root causes, risks and exposures. Seek input from employees, especially those who have been with the organization for a long time. Ask them what they’ve observed, if there are issues that stand out or things they’d want to change, and what they think could help make the workplace safer. Then, develop a plan to help eliminate or minimize these risks.

Are there best practices to keep in mind once an employee is injured?

Hayes: One of the most important things an organization can do is create a systemic and positive approach to handling employee injuries. At Travelers, our post-injury management process is a carefully structured sequence of activities called the Corridor of Care, designed to take care of the employee from the moment of injury through return to full duty.

The Corridor of Care includes five strategies: responding to an injury immediately and in a caring and nonjudgmental way; establishing a relationship with a medical provider who understands your company; assigning transitional duties, which can help build morale and keep injured employees connected to the workforce while they recover; providing attentive case management; and measuring process performance, which can help identify trends for further risk and loss reduction strategies.

We find that having a plan in place before something goes wrong can help injured employees feel supported and engaged when they’re recovering and return to work as soon as they are medically able.

Ives: As Chris suggests, making sure that your injured employee knows you care is an important part of their recovery. There’s been a lot of focus on mental health and well-being over the past few years and that can certainly factor in here. We’ve seen firsthand that overlooking mental health can lengthen recovery time and increase workers compensation costs. That’s why Travelers focuses on treating the injured employee with a comprehensive approach. We identify any psychosocial barriers, such as catastrophic thinking or fear of losing a job, that can contribute to a delayed recovery and help provide solutions to address them.

Can technology play a role here and in helping businesses protect employees and enhance workplace safety in general?

Hayes: Technology help businesses further improve safety and prevent injuries in the workplace. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is that technology does not replace traditional safety management systems. Second, what works for one company might not work for another. To help decide what technology could be worth the investment, start by looking at the problem you are trying to solve, such as reducing the frequency of struck-by injuries or falls from height.

Ives: Additionally, we offer many tools to our customers and their injured employees to help them through their recovery. One example is our  Wysa for Return to Work app, which helps injured employees build mental resilience skills that can assist in overcoming the psychosocial barriers to their recovery.

Rich Ives is vice president of Business Insurance Claim and Chris Hayes is the assistant vice president of Transportation and Workers Compensation Risk Control for Travelers. 

About the Author

Chris Hayes

Chris Hayes is Assistant Vice President of Transportation and Workers Compensation Risk Control, Travelers. He oversees risk assessment approaches, development of service strategies for customers and training of staff on the essentials of safety and risk assessment.

About the Author

Rich Ives

Rich Ives is Vice President of Business Insurance Claim, Travelers. He is responsible for leading Travelers’ Workers Compensation Claim and Travelers’ Medical Center of Excellence, and he is the Claim business lead for Small Commercial, National Accounts and Constitution State Services.

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