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“The Value of Safety Plans for Claims Management,” Risk Management

December 5, 2018

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In an article published in the December 2018 edition of Risk Management magazine, Jeff Stinson advises employers on the value of creating and implementing a comprehensive safety program to prevent the potential for liability in workers’ compensation claims.

Because most federal and state workers’ compensation programs are no-fault systems, employees are generally going to be entitled to recovery through workers’ compensation under most circumstances regardless how reckless or ill-conceived their actions were. “However, most states provide a defense to employers and insurers if the employee is found to have violated a safety rule or neglected to use a safety device,” Stinson says.

This “willful misconduct” defense can protect employers and insurers in certain cases where safety policies prohibit the action that led to injury, but simply having a safety plan in place is not enough. “Courts are not going to punish an injured worker if an employer has a safety plan in name only,” Stinson warns.

Employers must fully and effectively implement the safety plans they lay out for employees, including following these three steps:

  1. Create a comprehensive safety program – In addition to listing in writing the protocols and procedures of the facility, the safety program should engage the employees through a tour of the jobsite and hands-on opportunities to practice safety procedures.
  2. Enforce the program – Failing to enforce a safety plan can lead to accidents, but it also erases any leverage employers may have when defending a claim based on employee failure to comply.
  3. Conduct regular safety meetings and training – Having a safety committee or regular safety meetings to discuss company policy will keep the information fresh and the employees accountable. Take attendance with a sign in sheet with the topics discussed included at the top.

To view the full article online, click here.

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