August 12, 2020 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis
How Automation Can Mitigate Workers’ Compensation Risk
Worker’s compensation is a vital piece of any employer’s benefits package in the best of times, and it’s become all the more essential in the pandemic era. As employees and new hires look for benefits programs that offer assurances against the expense of getting sick at work, employers look for ways to mitigate the legal and financial risks associated with an outbreak. We’ve seldom seen a more tenuous time for worker’s comp, especially in higher-risk industries such as construction, healthcare, and manufacturing.
Worker’s comp was in a period of rapid change even before the pandemic. Now the shortfalls of outdated practices and the potential of new technology are in starker contrast than ever before. New legal cases are springing up every week, and so far there has been no prevailing consensus from the courts or policymakers. With so much uncertainty in the air, it becomes all the more vital for employers to have a proactive, flexible worker’s compensation strategy in place, including upgraded technology that automates functions such as time-tracking, communicating policies, and wellness checks.
The conversation around automation and worker’s comp often focuses on solutions that can assist or replace workers doing particularly dangerous jobs. While those are certainly considerations, there are also smaller, more affordable ways that automation can make a big difference. For example, something as simple as a time clock that automatically asks employees a set of safety-related questions at the end of their shift. Requiring workers to answer questions such as “Did you follow all safety policies?” or “Were you injured on the job today?” provides a business with an easily referenced system of record. That helps protect your organization against future legal actions and lets you demonstrate compliance with OSHA and other key regulations.
This technology has gained the spotlight recently as more employers and places of business implement COVID-19 questionnaires that must be answered before workers or customers are allowed in their buildings. Integrating these questions into the daily clock-in and clock-out routine via an automated time clock system helps to normalize the exchange of information, building peace of mind for employers and employees alike.
Technology and artificial intelligence are also being incorporated in many other facets of worker’s compensation. Mobile apps can make regular check-ins to inquire about an employee’s mental well-being, an often overlooked health factor that demands more focus in a time of increased isolation and stress. Self-service tools can help educate workers on their benefits options, eliminate tedious paperwork, and reduce human error during the open enrollment process. Digital assistants and automated forms can help speed up the process of filing and processing a worker’s compensation claim. Bluetooth beacon technology can track workers’ physical location within the workspace, helping to enforce social distancing policies, assist in contact tracing in the event of an outbreak, and stay compliant with federal and local guidelines.
These measures can also aid in a legal defense in the event of a COVID-related lawsuit. It’s also worth noting, though, that no employer protections against these lawsuits currently exist. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure that any reopening plan is fully compliant with all local, state, and federal safety guidelines.
As always, open and speedy communication is key to maintaining workplace safety. That may seem like an obvious statement, but research shows that 57% of employees feel they’re not given clear direction in the workplace, while 69% of managers say they’re uncomfortable about communicating directly to employees. Automated solutions can ease those communication difficulties and help ensure that safety messages that can help reduce worker’s comp claims are getting through.
Your mobile app should include a messaging component that provides quick, two-way communications, allowing management to send out policy announcements and safety guidelines while also offering employees a chance to submit questions and feedback. Time and attendance apps with real-time remote reporting allow workers to submit hours and make schedule changes from any location, reducing the risk of spreading disease. Customizable time and attendance hardware like touchless time clocks with automated temperature scans and voice-activated operation can help reduce physical contact and keep sick workers from entering a building.
The coming months and years will be interesting ones for anyone involved with worker’s compensation. As new legislation develops, new technology evolves, and new safety policies become the norm, integrating technology and automated solutions will be more important than ever for consistent, efficient risk mitigation. Find out how Ascentis’s hardware and software solutions can help reduce your risk of costly worker’s compensation claims.