An Easy, Simple, Dare We Say Fun Way to Cut North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Costs?

February 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Discussions about how to get North Carolina workers’ compensation costs down are often dire and filled with gloom and doom.

In fact, as soon as we start talking about workmen’s comp, our minds inevitably get drawn toward worst case scenarios:

•    A worker losing a finger in a cutting machine on a factory floor;
•    A loyal secretary developing a wicked case of thoracic outlet syndrome after typing too much on her computer without a break;
•    A delivery worker suffering spinal damage on his way to drop off a bag of Indonesian food, etc.

We also get drawn into speculation about who is to blame for problems with North Carolina workers’ compensation: indulgent employees, careless employers, unsavory insurance companies, inept bureaucrats, bought and paid for legislators, etc. In other words, everyone paints everyone else as the bad guy.

Lost in this blame game is an opportunity to find experiments in workers’ comp cost management that actually pay dividends…and then applying the lessons of those experiments on a broader scale.

For instance, consider a recent, relatively arcane story in the world of plastics manufacturing. According to a blog post on www.plasticsnews.com, employees at Meredith Springfield Associates, Inc. managed to help their company slash accident rates and workers’ comp insurance costs. In 2006, the company paid $100,000 in claims. In 2011, the company paid out just $40,000 in claims. Meredith Springfield is a diverse industrial company that works on extrusion blow molding and engineering for industries as varied as packaging, food, and medical. All told, there are 50 employees in the company.

So, how did this company slashes its workers’ comp costs? Simple.

According to the company’s president, Mel O’Leary: “five years ago, we didn’t have a great safety record…that all changed when we made an investment in specific machine guarding and automation and started a more in depth safety education program.” That program included a cool incentive program to encourage employees to remain accident free. A technician named Scott Hirsch won first prize in this competition – a $10,000 trip to the Bahamas.

You might be tempted to sniff at these “small scale” numbers – the company saved $60,000 on insurance costs in exchange for paying out $10,000 to this employee – but don’t be fooled. Imagine this on a broader scale. In other words, what if we could extract lessons here and create similar incentive programs here in NC? For instance, at a bigger company, maybe you could save $600,000 in exchange for $100,000 of rewards. That’s $500,000 saved. Now imagine if a hundred different companies across North Carolina adopted a similar regime and achieved a similar cost savings. Now you have 100 times 500,000, which equals $50 million in savings. Now, we’re not just talking about pennies. We’re talking about a significant reduction in the burden on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system as a whole. Very interesting.

On a more practical note, if you’ve been struggling to deal effectively with your employer or an insurance company or a state bureaucracy, you might benefit significantly from discussing your matter with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Contest helps hold down workers’ comp costs

Finding experiments in the real-world that work – then applying them on a broader scale

 
 

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