“The Value of Safety Plans for Claims Management"

Risk Management

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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