A culture of workplace safety not only helps protect you and your employees from avoidable accidents, it can also benefit your business financially. Costs associated with workers’ compensation rates can add up over time, but preventative measures can help businesses save their hard-earned money.
One place that has seen the benefits of reduced fees is North Carolina. Business Insurance reported that two states announced workers’ compensation rate reductions in 2019, led by a 17.2 percent drop for the Tar Heel State. What could have caused this and how does it affect small business owners? Here’s what you need to know.
What Does the Rate Decrease Mean for Small Businesses Owners in North Carolina?
There’s nothing uniquely different about North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws, so that isn’t the reason why the state’s decrease in rates is markedly higher than others. Instead, the first takeaway from the announced rate decrease is that businesses in North Carolina have focused on better implementations of safety programs and procedures in the past year. As Business Insurance notes, employers are reporting fewer claims overall and that the claims are less severe on average than in the past.
Another potential explanation could involve the growth of non-manual-labor-intensive jobs. These jobs are less prone to workplace injuries, so an increase of employees in these fields relative to other industries naturally lowers the average number of claims.
Of course, the 17.2 percent rate drop doesn’t mean that business owners can simply enjoy the statewide trend and rest on their laurels. Since every business can deal with different insurance carriers, industries, and other factors; that drop likely represents an average decrease and not a guaranteed rate drop. In that case, it’s possible that your business could see an increase in rates despite the statewide trend. To combat this, you’ll want to take some of the same measures that helped North Carolina achieve such notable rate drops.
What Can Small Business Owners Can Do to Lower Their Workers’ Compensation Rates?
There are several ways that you can help protect your business and limit the chances of claims. One of the most notable methods to do this is through safety programs. A successful workplace safety program can help employees avoid dangerous situations, as well as provide some additional benefits for your business. Another way to help lower worker’s compensation rates is to conduct risk assessments. These assessments can identify potential areas where your business is non-compliant with OSHA laws. In addition, they can highlight other areas that are technically fine in terms of safety codes but could still be improved.
Creating a safer work environment isn’t the only way to help lower worker’s compensation claims. You can also take a proactive approach to claim management. If an employee has an incident that results in a back injury, it’s important to go through the proper process to show that your business took all the right steps, such as filing the first report of injury and helping the employee find an appropriate doctor. After that, a good return-to-work plan can help the employee ease back into their responsibilities without negatively affecting their injury.
It’s also important to note that not all worker’s compensation claims are legitimate. Instances of fraudulent claims are uncommon—ABC News notes that worker’s compensation fraud accounts for roughly one or two percent of cases—but the costs associated with them can increase your rates if gone unnoticed. If you think that a claim may be fraudulent, you can work with claims management experts to investigate the situation and make sure that your business is protected in another way.
How a PEO Can Help You Manage Worker’s Compensation Claims
Proper worker’s compensation claim management is important, but it also requires a lot of work in an area that you may not have the time or expertise to properly handle. As a Professional Employer Organization, GMS has experts in locations across the country who can help you take the right measures to help lower your rates and protect your business.
If you own a business in North Carolina, our Charlotte branch can work with you to protect your company and its employees. If you’re not based in the Tar Heel State, don’t worry—we have locations across the country that can assist with risk management, outsourcing payroll, benefits administration, and other key HR functions. Contact GMS today to talk to one of our experts about how we can help your business prepare for the future.