Safety: The Best Work Comp Policy

by Tim Jackman

Up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities and 47 percent of industrial injuries can be linked
to alcohol consumption.

Employers who have experienced on-the-job injuries with their employees don’t have to be sold on the merits of a workplace safety program. They have seen the tremendous impact injuries have on their businesses and most importantly, employees’ lives. For other employers, there is a valuable lesson worth serious consideration: purchasing a workers compensation insurance policy doesn’t buy you a safe workplace. If you are looking to protect your employees and control the cost of workers compensation insurance, a commitment to safety pays. 

Consider this example:

A manufacturer without a safety program has 29 injuries in a year, with losses totaling $91,000. Without any pricing adjustments from the insurer’s underwriting department, this manufacturer would expect to pay $39,321 in work comp premium—with the expectation that it could go up even further the following year.

Compare this to a similar manufacturer with the same number of employees who has a safety program. This manufactureris able to keep the number of workplace injuries to 23, totaling just more than $11,000 in claim costs. This would result in premium of $23,170—a difference of more than $16,000.

Studies show that an investment in safety is actually a moneymaker. An analysis by a major insurer showed that 95 percent of business executives report that workplace safety has a positive impact on a company’s financial performance. Of these executives, 61 percent believe their companies receive a return on investment of $3 or more for each $1 they invest in improving workplace safety.

Creating a safety program to protect your employees and control costs isn’t as daunting as it might seem. Establishing a safety commitment is the first step. Owners, managers and all employees have to understand that safety is the top priority.

But commitment to safety requires action. Create and implement a comprehensive safety program, then make sure to communicate to and train employees regularly. A program that sits on a shelf might help you feel better, but it’s not really helping create an effective safety culture.

One particular area of emphasis that requires immediate attention in your workplace safety effort is drug and alcohol use. If you do not have a drug and alcohol-free workplace policy in place, stop and develop one now. Up to 40 percent of industrial fatalities and 47 percent of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption.

With staggering statistics like these, you can’t afford to operate another day without protecting yourself and your employees with a drug and alcohol policy.

Employers who know Missouri and Kansas workers compensation law might think the law protects them. In both states, when drug and alcohol use is involved in a workplace injury, work comp benefits are drastically reduced or may even be eliminated. But without a policy in place that everyone is fully aware of, you certainly are not protecting your employees.

“Why bother protecting employees who use drugs and alcohol at work?” For starters, you have an opportunity to help employees who might be struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. It’s also a smart business strategy. In addition to increasing the risk of injuries—which ultimately impacts the cost of your workers compensation insurance—alcohol and drug abuse has been estimated to cost American businesses roughly $81 billion in lost productivity in just one year.

As an employer, you have an obligation to protect the other employees who work with drug and alcohol abusers every day. The real issue in workplace safety is not only minimizing costs, but most importantly minimizing the human suffering that can occur when employees are injured at work. Workplace injuries can be devastating, destroying the lives of not only the employees, but their families as well. Where workplace safety is concerned, can we really afford to do less?


Tim Jackman is vice president of claims for Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance. He can be reached by phone at 1-800-442-0593 or by e-mail at