Controlling workers’ compensation costs is not as difficult as you may think. The secret is a three-step approach that is firmly grounded in common sense: avoid injury claims, use proper industry classification codes for your employees, and find an insurance agent with experience in workers’ compensation coverage.

It sounds like a cliché to say that avoiding claims is a way to control costs. It’s such a simple concept, but it is actually made up of several complex components. The first is properly training new employees to perform their jobs safely. This requires developing a written program that is presented to all new hires during their initial orientation. This can be a difficult process, especially if you don’t have someone who is trained to design and implement training.

If you need help to develop a program, you can find it through OSHA’s Outreach Training Program. This is a voluntary train-the-trainer program through which OSHA develops trainers who are authorized to teach construction and general industry occupational safety and health standards and policy. For information regarding trainer certification requirements for the construction industry, course guidelines, training tips etc., visit You can also find information about locations offering this certification training.

Once you have conducted the initial training, it’s important to maintain safety awareness. You need to continually remind your employees to practice safety by posting reminders in common areas and holding meetings to discuss the specific issues affecting workers. These meetings are a good way to discover emerging problems and to brainstorm possible solutions. Employees who are part of the solution development process are more likely to buy into the process.

The other element you need to incorporate into a program that will successfully lower the number of on-site accidents is responsibility. Safety is the job of every employee, regardless of job title. Keep in mind that in the majority of states, workers’ compensation is “no fault.” Injuries that occur in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation insurance no matter what caused the accident, including employee negligence. It is essential that you continually create an environment where employees take ownership for maintaining a safe workplace. A good way to encourage this is to provide incentives like raises or extra time off for employees who make it a habit to work safely.

The second step in the three-step program is to properly classify your employees. There are more than 600 job classification codes and each one is associated with the level of risk necessary to perform that job. Never use one code for all of your employees and always use the most recent edition of the classification codebook for your state. If you don’t take the time to properly classify your employees, you may actually increase your workers’ compensation rates by assigning codes that have more risk than your employees face.

The last step in the strategy is to find an insurance agent that specializes in property and casualty insurance, particularly workers’ compensation. This person will be able to design a program that not only meets state mandaes, but also offers you the best value for your premium dollar.

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