Ortholive remote injury care's telemedicine for employers replaces ER visits with virtual medical care

Most employers will admit they could be better at lowering their workers’ compensation costs. While the average cost of a single work comp claim these days is more than $42,000, the indirect costs of even one workplace safety incident is much higher. For every dollar spent on direct workers’ compensation costs, approximately $2.12 is spent on indirect costs such as lost wages and time off work along with the disruptions that typically follow an on-the-job injury. 

So, how can employers bring these costs down? Simple: workplace safety prevention is key to cutting injury costs. 

One study showed that every dollar invested in workplace safety and injury prevention programs generates a $4.41 return on that investment. What are the elements of a good cost control program for workers’ compensation and why are wellness programs so effective at reducing injury, death, OSHA filings, and workers’ compensation premiums?

Let’s find out.

Ortholive remote injury care's telemedicine for employers offers onsite care for worksite injuries.

What Programs Do You Need to Reduce Workplace Injury Costs?

There are several elements of a good workplace safety program:

  • Safety training that begins with employee onboarding
  • Property and equipment maintenance
  • Establishment and enforcement of workplace safety rules
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Injury response protocols to respond fast and avoid the ER when possible

We know that the key to reducing workplace injuries is to prevent them before they occur. Several studies highlight that employers can save between $2 and $6 for every dollar they invest in preventing workplace injuries. In other words, the least expensive accident is the one that never happens.

A good workplace safety program has this prevention-centric strategy at the heart of their effort. For example, safety training that begins during the employee’s first week but continues throughout their tenure can serve to build accountability that keeping safe is everyone’s responsibility. Equipment maintenance usually has the goal of extending the life of the machine or tool to avoid malfunctions. Protective equipment stops the accident from damaging the vulnerable worker. These are all proactive strategies designed to prevent workplace injuries from occurring.

However, these widely-accepted workplace safety initiatives often don’t include an emphasis on employee wellness. These programs can center on ergonomics to prevent repetition injuries, general health to prevent chronic disease, and more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define these health and wellness programs as “designed to encourage the health and safety of all employees.” 

What kind of wellness programs could your company consider to increase workplace safety and cut the high costs of workers’ compensation and occupational health injuries?

Ortholive remote injury care's telemedicine for employers offers onsite care for injured employees

What Wellness Programs Could Increase Workplace Safety?

Ergonomics assessment wellness programs can increase workplace safety by teaching workers how to stretch before working, how to lift properly, and more. Why does this matter to your business?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says sprains and strains caused by lifting and overexertion are the cause of more than 30% of nonfatal occupational injuries with an average recovery period of 12-days. The failure to proactively correct ergonomic issues in the workplace can create the musculoskeletal injuries that lead to OSHA reporting, higher workers’ compensation costs, and lost productivity. Some of the typical ergonomic issues that occur in the typical workplace include:

  • Lower back and neck pain and injury
  • Musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel, strained muscles, or rotator cuff tears
  • Cumulative trauma disorders from repetitive motion and overuse

All of these issues are preventable with an ergonomic assessment wellness program that gets to the heart of the real issue behind the majority of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace. Ergonomics is a scientific approach to adjust the job and workplace to fit the worker by reducing or eliminating the physical stresses that lead to musculoskeletal injuries. A good ergonomics program can help reduce a myriad of conditions, including many musculoskeletal injuries like:

  • Neck strain
  • Wrist or hand tendonitis
  • Tennis elbow or shoulder tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Lower back pain
  • Hernias
  • Sprains and muscle tears
  • Swelling and stiffness

Even a poorly designed computer workstation can cause preventable musculoskeletal disorders. An ergonomic assessment program seeks to analyze the workspace environment along with the employee behaviors that lead to workplace injuries. 

Three key ergonomic areas affect your employee’s safety and well-being:

  • The personal protective equipment (PPE) the employee uses
  • How fast they’re called upon to complete a task
  • Their bodily movements when doing the job

An ergonomic assessment is a real-time analysis of how and what your employee is doing on the job. These assessments evaluate and red flag:

  • Task repetition
  • Lifting or pushing heavy items repeatedly
  • Standing or sitting in one place for a long period of time
  • Repeated use of excessive force 
  • Postures that are uncomfortable
  • Bodily strain
  • Environmental factors such as the temperature of the workspace, the number of breaks, etc.

These assessments should be conducted by a qualified occupational healthcare professional and yield a detailed report on areas the employer can proactively correct to improve workplace conditions and ultimately reduce safety concerns. 

While cutting cost is the number one reason to conduct an ergonomic wellness assessment, some other benefits include:

  • Increased productivity from the individual worker because they are more comfortable
  • Higher quality work from employees who are less frustrated by the physical conditions of the job
  • Improved employee engagement because they know you have their back and are trying to protect their safety
  • A better safety culture where employees have situational awareness into wellness practices 

Musculoskeletal concerns are at the top of the list when it comes to OSHA reportable events. An ergonomic assessment is the first step toward creating a proactive culture where workers perform tasks in a way but employers shouldn’t stop there. 

In the past, pre-employment jobsite screening analysis and ergonomic assessments had to be face-to-face endeavors. Today, technology allows musculoskeletal professionals to conduct these wellness initiatives via telemedicine, often resulting in reduced cost for employers while providing the same benefits of face-to-face meetings.

These telemedicine initiatives also open the possibility of providing custom stretch and flex programs and personalized coaching and exercise routines to help cut down on the number of preventable workplace injuries.

Technology opens new doors and provides new ways for employers to increase workplace safety through ongoing wellness programs. 

To learn more about these programs, talk to an OrthoLive safety specialist today to discover how much your company can save by focusing on workplace safety.