Overall medical workers’ compensation costs are costing companies around $70 billion in claims and labor lost, according to Liz Griggs, CEO of WorkWell Prevention and Care (WWPC). And for the trucking industry, which is struggling with a driver shortage and an aging workforce, the risk for increased workers’ comp claims has the potential to escalate drastically.
Griggs, who specializes in workers’ compensation prevention, has been in the business for the past 25 years. Her goal is to help the companies she works with – including various trucking companies – avoid inheriting claims, particularly when it comes to workers’ comp fraud.
And she shared with Fleet Owner her top five tips for reducing those claims.
1. Prescreening to weed out people who can’t do the job
2. Electrodiagnostic Functional Assessment (EFA) Test
3. Functional based job descriptions
4. Onsite ergonomics solutions to ensure workers are doing the job the right way
5. Prompt reporting to fix a problem
WorkWell, which has been providing prevention and onsite services to its clients for the past 23 years, is a pioneer in pre-work screening to ensure that potential employees are actually able to perform the job, Griggs said.
When it comes to its trucking industry clients, Griggs said the organization’s teams of clinicians, physical therapists and doctors educate fleets on how to do a pre-work screen. And every year, those pre-work screening processes are updated, she said.
Griggs also suggests conducting pre-employment tests to identify whether an applicant is able to perform the physical demands of a specific job. WorkWell uses an EFA test to diagnose and identify soft tissue injuries. Griggs said test results are hidden and kept on file, and only revealed if a worker reports an injury and/or files a claim. Results will show if the injury pre-existed or was truly incurred on the job, she said, adding that it ensures companies don’t “inherit a claim.”
“For me as a CEO, this is so exciting,” Griggs said of the test. “When you have that recipe and you know how to help companies, it’s exciting. We are on the cutting edge of development of diagnosing soft tissue injuries. These are cutting edge tools that people need and don’t have. A lot of people don’t know these things exist, so all they’re doing is reacting on how to solve the problem. It’s our job to go out there and help.”
The EFA test came out eight years ago, Griggs said.
“A company can’t not hire someone based on a pre-existing injury,” she explained. “But if there’s a claim later, we compare the two.”
In 2011, Crete Carrier Corporation, a privately owned trucking company, received a complaint from an applicant who failed a pre-employment physical abilities test, alleging the test was discriminatory, according to WorkWell. The carrier contacted WorkWell, and the company said through technical, analytical and legal steps taken, the matter ended up being resolved amicably.
WorkWell also suggests providing drug screening to get workers tested and screened at point of hire. Griggs said clients have requested drug screenings a lot more lately because of opiate addictions, which could turn into escalated costs for the employer.
Functional based job descriptions
Griggs suggests evaluating and empirically measuring the demands of the job within the job descriptions. She said this involves assessing the employee, the work and the worksite.
Griggs said this is essential for working with clients and their employees to keep everyone on the same page and to help provide an injury-free environment. In an effort to prevent injuries, WorkWell physical therapists work with employees, supervisors and management to understand workflow and all the job requirements to minimize musculoskeletal injuries.
Upon developing functional job descriptions, Griggs suggests companies provide onsite work services, for instance, showing employees the proper way to lift, pull, tug and carry heavier items.
WorkWell conducts a work fit for its clients, which Griggs said educates employees about how they should work on the job. This, she said, helps owners create an environment not conducive to claims.
“The majority of the diagnostic tests we do are from pulling, carrying and lifting,” Griggs said. “We work all over the country and worldwide, and we work in the plants in these large companies.”
“We need to reduce claims,” she said. “We don’t always want to be reacting; we want employees to return to work.”
Fix problems quickly
Griggs stressed that owners and managers must react quickly if something does happen on the job in order to reduce claims and the potential for worker’s comp fraud.
Griggs said she has seen workers’ medical compensation costs rise to $30 billion nationwide. And, she said, lost time associated with workers’ comp has become a $35 billion cost to companies.
With trucking, she mentioned that an ongoing problem is the driver shortage and the aging population of current drivers, which is why she urges owners and managers to incorporate wellness programs from within.
“We’ve got to keep the workers well on site,” Griggs said. “If you have a shortage, you want to keep them well. And if they’re getting older you want to keep them well and working within an injury-free environment.”