The safety committee's primary purpose is to ensure that the workplace is safe for employees and that plant safety
Keys to Success
The safety committee should conduct periodic meetings to report findings and activities, and make recommendations
It is important for the committee to communicate its findings and recommendations to management on a routine
Safety Committee Questions and Answers
Q. How are safety committee members chosen?
Q. Should the safety committee have the authority to punish safety violations and set company safety policy?
Q. How long should committee members serve?
Q. Do safety committee members need specialized training?
A. Training can be done in-house through the safety manager, the safety department, or an outside consulting firm.
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Can You Afford a Workplace Accident?
Workplace accidents not only threaten the health and safety of employees, they can also have a significant financial impact on your company in terms of lost productivity and lower profits. According to the National Safety Council, in 2003 there were over 3.4 million workplace injuries, with a total estimated cost to industry of $156.2 billion. That is an average cost of nearly $46,000 for each workplace injury. If these figures seem surprising, take a closer look at the ways an accident can impact your operations due to indirect costs.
The Impact of Direct and Indirect Costs
Workplace accidents are more expensive than most companies realize. Direct costs are workers' compensation claims that include payments to injured workers and their medical care providers. These expenses, while significant, are often seen as the cost of doing business by many companies. Direct costs, however, are just the tip of the iceberg when calculating the total financial impact of workplace accidents. Often, the many indirect costs far exceed the cost of medical claims. The most common indirect costs of workplace accidents include the following:
The ratio of indirect costs to direct cost varies widely and ranges from 20:1 to nearly 1:1, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Studies indicate that the lower the direct or medical cost of an accident, the higher the indirect cost.
These costs are not always apparent immediately. It often takes time for the effects to fully manifest themselves, so many companies have little understanding of how these hidden costs can impact their bottom line. Indirect costs vary widely from company to company and are typically difficult to track. They are less predictable than direct costs and difficult to control. However, they are ultimately paid for out of a company's profits and their potential impact can be devastating.
To avoid the cost of accidents and improve your bottom line, take a serious look at each step of your operation. Discover where accidents are likely to occur and take corrective action where necessary. Train employees on all safety measures related to their job and educate them on the benefits of constant vigilance. Institute a safety program and appoint a team of dedicated individuals to carry it out. A well-maintained safety program is an excellent way to increase awareness of employee safety and prevent accidents from occurring.
For more information about workplace safety programs, see OSHA's Safety and Health Programs Website.
If you would like to obtain a complimentary set of the most recent state and federal workplace posters, submit your request by clicking on Tools You Can Use in the menu bar. Click on Workplace Posters and complete the online request form.
Reduce the Impact of Accident Costs on Your Business
Key pointsSource: www.sxc.hu
Having an effective health and safety program in place at your company can have a tremendous impact throughout operations. Benefits include lower accident-related costs, reduced absenteeism, lower employee turnover, higher productivity, and improved employee morale. According to OSHA, the direct costs of accidents, including workers' compensation claims, can be outweighed by less obvious indirect costs by a 20-to-1 margin. Indirect costs include training replacement workers and repairing property damage, as well as the costs associated with accident investigations.
Safety Programs: More than a Slogan
How can you reduce the impact of accident costs on your business? Safety and health programs reduce the risk of costly workers' compensation expenses and OSHA fines by minimizing workplace hazards and ensuring that your company is compliant with OSHA regulations. To be effective, however, a safety program must be instituted at every level of the organization, and it must be more than just a Safety First slogan.
The following strategic map outlines the key steps in bringing a change process to your organization—the necessary implementation strategy for establishing a successful safety program.
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week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed the top 10 most cited
violations in fiscal year 2010, according to EHS Today. This year's list did not deviate significantly from
the top 10 violations in recent years.
Thomas Galassi, director of OSHA's directorate of enforcement programs, shared the following top 10 list
of the most cited violations for FY 2010 NSC attendees, according to Occupational Health & Safety:
Scaffolding - General (8,371 violations)
violations represented about 49 percent of all infractions.
A safe work environment reduces employee turnover.
Safety Committees—Prevention and Awareness
The goal of safety committees is prevention and awareness. Appoint a safety committee to review and update safety procedures, train employees, and conduct routine safety assessments. These safety assessments can be as simple as a walk-through to identify potential hazards. Have your safety committee review the incidents that occur and determine ways to prevent future accidents; addressing preventive measures through updated procedures and/or training.
Another effective—and essentially free—safety program is to offer your employees a chance to report safety issues anonymously. The issues can be anything from near misses to new concerns. Often, the employees who are carrying out specific tasks are the most aware of the dangers and pitfalls of doing that job. Allowing employees to express their concerns anonymously improves safety and morale. Have your safety committee review anonymous submissions and act on them as needed.
Reevaluate Old Safety Systems
Take a fresh look at the safety systems and procedures you have in place. For instance, a warehouse of flammable liquids or plastics needs to have a stronger sprinkler system than a warehouse full of metal tools. Make sure your sprinkler system is strong enough to extinguish the items you are storing. This may seem
Employee Retention—A Hidden Savings of Safety
While the adage safety pays certainly applies—it might be time to start thinking of it
Distracted Driving - A Growing Problem
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association, at any point during daylight
hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone. Some
of these vehicles are being driven by employees conducting business while behind the wheel.
If they cause an accident, their employer could be responsible not just for workers' compensation
and disability claims, but also for liability judgments and for fines associated with criminal
As their insurance advisor, you can help your technology and life science save lives and money
by making them aware of the risk they face when employees use cell phones while
driving on company business. The Hartford's Distracted Driving - A Growing Problem provides
you and your clients with information and resources to help develop their own distracted driving
TOP 40 RED FLAGS WHICH MAY INDICATE WORKERS’ COMP FRAUD
By Scott B. Fulmer, August 6, 2010
Claims adjusters look for the presence of red flags in workers’ compensation (WC)
claims to determine whether or not a claim is legitimate. Red flags consist of
particular conditions or behaviors commonly found in fraudulent claims. While the
primary responsibility of recognizing red flags lies with both employers and claims
adjusters. Private investigators should at least be familiar with them. Seeing one or
two red flags does not necessarily indicate fraud however it should, at the very least,
alert the adjuster to the possibility of fraud.
The fact is workers do get injured on the job. According to Jody Ball in The Bible on
Worker’s Comp Investigations , “While most insurance claims are legitimate, fraud is
wide-spread, involving approximately 30% of all claims.” Of those that aren’t, some
are outright intentional fraud while others consist of exaggerated claims or
malingering. Claimants who malinger are those who more than likely began with a
legitimate claim and injury but have since recovered. However, they continue to
pretend they are incapacitated to avoid having to return to work.
Upon receiving a new WC assignment investigators should discuss with the adjuster
the specific red flags that were observed. Being aware of the particular red flags that
led an adjuster to consider fraud as a possibility will help investigators conduct a
more cost-effective and successful investigation. For example, if the adjuster states
that the claimant’s home address on file appears to be a family or friends address the
investigator will know that the first step will be to research and locate the claimant’s
Let’s take a look at the top 40 most common red flags associated with WC claims.
We will consider what these red flags mean and what adjusters and investigators can
do about them.
1. There are no witnesses to the injury or the only witnesses are the claimant’s “close”
co-workers Yet another reason to advise employers to install security cameras in the
workplace. John J. Fay in The Encyclopedia of Security Management states that
cameras can be used to “…identify unsafe practices…” and “…to prevent
accidents…” In fact, the installation of cameras can decrease the number of
fraudulent WC claims.
2. The claimant and witness statements offer conflicting information Do the
statements seem rehearsed or even identical? Do they both contain the same
misspelled words? Perhaps it’s not a coincidence.
3. The report of the injury is not timely Both adjusters and investigators should advise
employers to have clear and specific guidelines for reporting work-related injuries.
Supervisors should be trained to bring accidents to the attention of management
4. The accident report, statements and other documents contain numerous
cross-outs, white out, erasures or are incomplete
5. The claimant cannot recall specific details about the accident Along with a
selective memory loss many claimants change details of their statement after
inconsistencies have been pointed out. Employers and adjusters should continue to
question them on specifics to arrive at what actually happened.
6. The injured worker is a new employee David Wylie with Texas Mutual Insurance
Company stated in Fraud No Small Matter for Small Business, “Statistically the newer
the employee is, the more likely the claim is fraudulent, especially if other red flags
7. The claimant has a poor attendance record at work Poor attendance records
have a funny way of becoming WC claims. Advise employers to have a clear and
specific attendance policy.
8. The claimant has a history of discipline issues Along with poor attendance,
employees who have discipline problems can become disgruntled employees. A
disgruntled employee, as Wylie pointed out “…has a motive to fabricate the claim.”
9. The accident occurs immediately before or after a vacation Employees can
become disgruntled when their request for vacation is denied. Many claimants view
time off for a WC injury as a “vacation.”
10. The accident occurs immediately prior to an employee’s retirement Often the
employee will take an early retirement and may even be moving out of the city or
state. If the employer or adjuster knows the claimant is moving this information should
be relayed to the investigator immediately. I recently had a similar case. The
claimant took an early retirement but not before filing a WC claim. Of course I was
there the day the moving truck arrived. Although the claimant had hired professional
movers I was able to videotape him loading his own truck with personal belongings.
Needless to say, his physical activities that day were well outside the scope of his
11. The employee is injured prior to a strike, company layoff, termination or the
employer closing or relocating the business
12. The employee is injured after giving notice Nothing says thank you more than an
employee who leaves the job and is “injured” during his last few days. This often
happens with employees performing seasonal or temporary work.
13. The employee is injured after receiving a disciplinary action, demotion, being
passed over for promotion or being placed on probation The common denominator
is that the claimant is disgruntled. Again, disgruntled employees are more likely to file
fraudulent WC claims.
14. The claimant has problems with workplace relationships
15. The claimant leaves the country for medical treatment I once had a clinic in
Nuevo Laredo, Mexico billing an adjuster for medical treatment the claimant was
supposedly undergoing. I was able to provide evidence that the claimant was
shopping and running errands in Laredo at the same time the clinic says he was
being treated in Mexico.
16. The claimant has a history of reporting subjective claims or has more than one
claim at a time
17. The claimant’s job history reflects a series of jobs held for relatively short periods
of time This alone, should alert employers to potential problems. Advise employers
to put an end to fraudulent WC claims before they get a chance to start through careful
hiring practices. Investigators can conduct background investigations and verify
references and help employers avoid costly hiring mistakes.
18. The claimant’s alleged injury relates to a pre-existing health problem
19. The claimant is involved in hobbies or sports Claimants injured playing sports
over the weekend often attempt to blame it on a work-related injury early Monday
morning. When adjusters have claimants that are active in sports this information
should be passed on to the investigator.
20. The claimant is involved in home improvement or auto repair activities
21. The claimant has a part-time job that is labor intensive, i.e. building outdoor
decks, installing tile, etc. Many claimants view WC as a vacation of sorts and an
opportunity to get some real work accomplished.
22. The injury occurs on a Friday but is not reported until the following Monday, or the
injury happens early Monday morning or at the beginning of a weekly shift Probably
one of the most common red flags. This could indicate the claimant was injured over
23. The incident report and the medical evaluation offer conflicting information
24. The claimant refuses or delays treatment to diagnose the injury
25. The claimant won’t come to the telephone, is sleeping and can’t be disturbed or
is never home Again, one of the most common red flags. Begin surveillance early at
this claimant’s address. More than likely he is very active.
26. The claimant misses physical therapy, occupational therapy or other medical
27. The claimant provides a telephone number but doesn’t live at the address
associated with it A variation of this is the “message phone,” where the message
taker is evasive or ambiguous when asked about the claimant. Investigators should
ask adjusters for every telephone number associated with the claimant. Reverse the
telephone numbers for the actual addresses.
28. The claimant provides his friends, parents or other family members address or a
hotel or post office box In other words the claimant is hiding. Check proprietary
databases and follow him from an appointment or when he picks up his WC check
from his employer.
29. The claimant’s family doesn’t know anything about the claim or they are extremely
helpful to the point of the information sounding rehearsed
30. The claimant is going through a divorce
31. The claimant is going through a child custody battle
32. The claimant is having financial difficulties A fraudulent WC claim may be the
least of your worries. This type of claimant is prone to stealing from his employer.
33. Tips or anonymous information from co-workers, relatives or neighbors suggest
that the claimant’s injuries are exaggerated or not legitimate Yet another reason to
suggest to clients that the investigator perform an activity check or neighborhood
canvass or survey. I once had a liability case where the claimants (a mother and
daughter) had been involved in an automobile accident with a truck from a large utility
company. In discussing the accident with a neighbor the mother remarked that she
was going to take the utility company for every penny. Unbeknownst to the mother,
the neighbor did not care much for her or her daughter. The neighbor telephoned the
utility company and advised them that the daughter was on her high school volleyball
team and that her mother was her biggest fan. At the next game I sat in the bleachers
and videotaped the daughter’s very physical volleyball game and her mother jumping
up and down and cheering from the opposite bleacher.
34. The claimant’s lifestyle is incompatible with his known income These types of
claimants have their fingers in all kinds of pies and are usually very active.
Surveillance is a must.
35. The claimant’s family members are on workers’ comp or have a history of claims
or lawsuits A family that “claims” together stays together. Use discretion when
conducting surveillance and especially when making neighborhood inquiries.
36. The claimant’s injuries are subjective This involves soft-tissue injuries, phantom
pain, emotional injuries, etc. This is very common and difficult to prove otherwise.
The best course of action is surveillance of an active claimant over several days.
37. The claimant changes physicians frequently This occurs when the physician
releases the claimant to return to work or when his diagnoses is at odds with the
38. The claimant is healthy, tanned or sunburned The claimant is obviously involved
in outside activities. People are creatures of habit. Men begin shaving on the same
side of their face every morning. Regardless of how careful claimants with
exaggerated or fraudulent claims are, they eventually will go back to their routines.
39. The claimant and other workers from the same employer use the same attorney,
doctor, chiropractor or clinic I once had a case where 10 claimants from the same
company were all being treated by the same clinic. This is a definite red flag. Many
of these clinics are set up to do nothing more than make money. I cannot tell you how
many times I have conducted surveillance on different claimants for different clients
and found them all going to the same doctor or the same chiropractor. Use caution
when conducting surveillance at these locations. These people do not want anything
disrupting their cash cow.
40. The claimant is familiar with claims-handling procedures or workers’ comp rules
At the very least this could indicate that the claimant has filed a previous claim. It
also means the claimant may be expecting surveillance. Use discretion and be
When it comes to fraudulent WC claims, claimants use a myriad of methods to
exaggerate and file false claims. These claims end up costing money and a loss of
productivity for the employer which, unfortunately is passed on to the consumer.
When it comes to WC fraud, everyone pays. Investigators, adjusters and employers
working together can not only recognize and react to the red flags that point to
fraudulent WC claims but also conduct comprehensive investigations that reduce the
number of false or exaggerated claims.