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Healthy workers help minimize workers' compensation costs

Some workers here in New Jersey and around the country may be healthier thanks to their employers' efforts to curb workers' compensation costs. As one risk management executive notes, employers can minimize the number and severity of illnesses and injuries eligible for workers' comp by creating a "healthy and safe work environment." Employees who are fit and healthy are less likely to suffer injuries. They also tend to recover faster.

Healthy employees can save employers money in other ways, too, such as on health insurance costs. Further, it's just common sense that people tend to take fewer sick days and are less likely to have to take disability leave if they are healthy. People who feel better are more likely to be better at their jobs than if they're sick, fatigued or stressed. In fact, one professor recently wrote an opinion piece in "The Wall Street Journal" calling for more companies to hire chief health officers to help them improve the health of their workforce.

Even if businesses don't have room in their budgets for a chief health officer, there are other things they can do to help improve the health (both physical and emotional) and safety of their workers:

-- Develop a corporate wellness program that encourages and rewards people for making healthy lifestyle choices.-- Take care not to emphasize increased productivity at the expense of safety. This can be particularly crucial in factory settings and other jobs where employees are required to meet daily or even hourly quotas.-- For jobs that involve physical labor, have a required few minutes of stretching before workers begin their day. Supervisors should see all employees at the beginning and end of their workdays to help ensure that they aren't ill or injured.

Of course, it's also essential that employers minimize hazards in the workplace as much as possible. It's also crucial that employees have the protective gear, training and necessary tools to do their jobs safely.

Workers who become ill or injured due to their job or their workplace environment have the right to workers' compensation. They also may be able to hold them liable. A workers' compensation attorney can advise you if you have any concerns or questions about your options.

Source: EHS Today, "Drive Down Workers’ Comp Claims by Creating a Healthy Work Environment," Philip Casto and Tom Heebner, HUB International, Jan. 07, 2016

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