Improving your company's experience modifier, better known as your "mod rate," is a critical factor in controlling workers' compensation expenses, which, given the steep rise in those costs in recent years, is essential to increasing profitability. Reducing the number of reportable on-the-job injuries – and the workers' comp claims they initiate – is the key to keeping your mod rate favorable and your workers' comp premiums reasonable.
Slips, trips and falls are among the most frequent causes of injuries that lead to claims. In fact, these types of incidents, along with strains, sprains, and overexertion injuries, account for 67 percent of the top 10 disabling workplace injuries. For the greatest impact on safety and that mod rate, a plan for preventing workplace injuries should begin by targeting these common causes.
Exertion = 37% + Slips, trips, falls = 30% Total = 67%
Source: www.libertymutualgroup.com/researchinstitute; 2014, Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index
Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls
When asked by policyholders what they should do to reduce workplace injuries, insurance companies generally recommend ergonomics and wellness training first. Chances are you've already launched these programs in your workplace. You're probably doing all you can to police your workplace for slip, trip and fall hazards too. So what more can be done to bring injury numbers down to levels that will earn your company a better mod rate? Pre employment physical abilities testing (PAT) can provide the edge you need in preventing workplace injuries -- including slips, trips and falls.
A pre hire physical abilities testing program can help you hire employees who are less likely to be injured on the job. By passing a well-designed PAT, new hires will have proven themselves physically capable of safely and effectively performing the essential functions of the specific jobs in your workplace. In the case of slip, trip and fall injuries – commonly suffered by workers in housekeeping, health care, construction and food processing – PAT screening can evaluate physical factors that may affect balance and agility, ensuring that your employees are capable of navigating the unavoidable workplace hazards they may face.
Does that mean that preventing workplace injuries would require investing resources in testing all job applicants? It does not. Physical abilities testing is done in the post offer phase of the hiring cycle, only after a conditional offer of employment has been extended. As with background checks or drug testing, employers can rescind conditional employment offers if the candidate cannot pass the PAT. The chief reason for this timing is EEOC compliance, since a safe, effective PAT will include components that are considered a medical exam under EEOC guidelines, and medical exams are prohibited until after an offer has been made. Post offer testing also conserves resources, ensuring that only serious candidates – ones who have been deemed otherwise suitable for employment – are tested.
In addition, just because you test one position, you don’t have to test all of your positions. Before initiating a PAT, examine your injury data. Which jobs are creating most of the injuries? You may want to select the top 10-20 percent of the jobs that are creating the majority of the injuries or the highest injury expense, for implementation of the screening program.
So how much difference can a good physical abilities testing make in workplace injury rates? According to a meta-analysis published in the journal "Work," quite a bit. After examining data from PAT validation studies, researchers found that new hires who passed PAT tests had a 47 percent lower rate of workers' compensation injuries, and analysis of data from 175 pre/post implementation studies indicated a 41 percent reduction. Results like that could certainly do good things for your company's mod rate.