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It’s “What’s Up? Wednesday”. Time to talk about HR’s role in preventing Workers’ Comp claims

By January 30, 2013July 23rd, 2018Human Resources

You asked:  “We are a small company that has been hit hard by Workers’ Compensation claims made by ‘repeat claimants’. How can we protect ourselves from future claims?

The answer:

The obvious answer is to take a serious look at your safety program. Without a robust safety program in place, with full participation at all levels of the company, you are sure to be putting your employees (and your bottom line) at risk. But this is an HR blog. So I have an all-too-frequently overlooked hiring practice that goes a long way to reducing your risks. It all starts with the notion that your best defense is a good offense.

With the right pre-employment screening, you can eliminate candidates who may be your greatest risk of injuries and claims. Many such hiring resources are ignored by employers because they are either unfamiliar with them or because they are unsure what is legally acceptable.

Functional capacity evaluations (FCEs) are one of those tools that is frequently overlooked, but every employer should consider. A traditional FCE will strengthen your hiring process by:

  1. Most important . . . by helping to ensure an employee’s health and safety in job placement and/or returning to work after an injury; and
  2. An FCE can also serve as critical evidence in a litigated workers’ compensation case.

Rest assured, these pre-employment exams are legal if administered correctly. The American’s with Disabilities Act allows employers who have extended an offer of employment to make disability-related inquires and conduct medical examinations — as long as they do so for all entering employees in a particular job category.

In order to properly administer an FCE, you will need:

  1. An offer letter that explains the examinations that will be required, the timeframe for completing them, and instructions for where to have them done.  This must be given to the individual BEFORE they start working.
  2. Detailed job descriptions that include the physical demands and repetitive motion analysis for each position that will require an FCE.
  3. A medical provider who is familiar with the job requirements and functions.

A properly administered FCE will ensure you are hiring an employee who is fully capable of performing all the required job functions and is, therefore, a lot less likely to become your next “claim”.

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