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3 New-Age Options to Prevent Workplace Injuries

Carriers and agents are playing a key role in the increased use of technology to manage workplace safety risks.
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3 new-age options to prevent workplace injuries

More than one-third (34%) of workplace injuries occur during employees' first year on the job, regardless of age or industry experience, according to the “2023 Injury Impact Report" from Travelers. These first-year injuries also made up 34% of all workers compensation costs, according to the report.

In addition, there has been a notable rise in severity for 2022, with medical claim severity increasing approximately 5% and indemnity claim severity rising approximately 6% year over year, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).

Exposure to workers comp claims can be a significant burden on an organization. Over the past number of years, many companies have invested in technology to improve workplace safety and make processes more efficient and less susceptible to human error, potentially leading to fewer workplace injuries.

Both carriers and agents are playing a key role in the increased use of safety technology to manage workplace safety risk, allowing for the development of a tech-driven workers comp policy that is preventative rather than transactional. 

“Technology and innovation have been part of workplace safety for many years," says Bill Traver, vice president, business insurance product, Travelers. “For instance, we've seen increased automation of high-hazard activities, the implementation of heavy machinery safeguards, ergonomics advancements and automobile safety improvements, to name a few." 

For their part, agents can work with clients to ensure they are utilizing technological innovations, like sensors and connectivity, to help keep workers safe. There is “no question that technology is offering increasing opportunities for carriers, agents and insureds to partner to prevent incidents," says Mort Large, director of workers compensation strategy at Nationwide. “Telematics capabilities have been around for a while and are often thought of as an auto loss prevention tool—yet motor vehicle losses are a key driver of claims severity in workers comp, so there is the benefit with this technology in reducing losses to injured workers as well." 

Here are three safety options carriers offer that agents can present to clients to help reduce injuries, lower premium costs, and lower the number of days lost to injury: 

1) Wearables and ergonomic assessments. Innovation in wearable technology has led to enhanced employee safety and this is set to continue. Its adoption leads to increased productivity and an improved overall work experience, which results in better employee retention.

The “utilization of wearables—devices meant to monitor movements likely to cause an injury—is likely to become more commonplace, particularly in certain industries," Large says. “Some companies also offer loss control services in multiple formats—including virtual building tours—to meet the needs and schedules of their clients." The tours “focus on maximizing safety, prevention of injury and reducing costs associated with lost time before those injuries occur."

Additionally, “many of the largest workers comp claims that we see involve strains and sprains, and many times those claims are caused by body movements that, if done differently, would greatly reduce the chance of injury," says Jeff Cole, assistant vice president of national accounts, Sentry Insurance. “Using technology to improve the ergonomics of your employees' actions is a great example of how insurance companies can help prevent claims from happening in the first place."

2) Telemedicine. Some carriers offer a telemedicine service and, when available, agents should “make sure the client knows how to contact them in the event of an employee injury," says Justin Dorman, national product manager, workers compensation, Burns & Wilcox. “This saves time and money for all parties involved. Additionally, most carriers offer online safety videos and a myriad of safety resources that are readily accessible 24/7."

3) Tracking. New tracking technologies allow employees working alone to be monitored and located by first responders in the event of an emergency. Other technologies, such as cameras within safety goggles, allow support staff to see what the worker sees to assess a situation. Such devices can also alert a worker of a hidden danger through radio frequency identification (RFID).

“These technological advancements are likely to gain wider acceptance in the market," says Kirk Aguilera, managing partner and National Complex Workers Compensation Practice Group leader at The Liberty Company Insurance Brokers. “Analytics are also becoming increasingly important. As more information becomes available, it plays a vital role in risk evaluation and understanding how safety affects the company's frequency of loss."

 Olivia Overman is IA content editor.

Monday, July 24, 2023
Workers Comp
Big I Markets