All employers are expected to provide a reasonably safe work environment for their employees, but no business can prevent all accidents from happening. This is why the government mandates that businesses also provide some form of workers compensation insurance.
Worker compensation laws require businesses to maintain an insurance policy that covers the medical expenses and lost wages for employees who may experience a work-related injury or illness. Worker compensation insurance will cover the costs regardless of who specifically caused the injury, however it will not pay if the employee was injured due to intoxication, illegal drug use or some other misconduct.
Since worker compensation programs are state-regulated, individual states will have different laws. Most of the differences between states deal with which types of businesses need to provide coverage, or a minimum number of employees, etc. It’s critical to familiarize yourself with the applicable laws of your state.
Worker Compensation in the Restaurant Industry
With more than 13 million workers—roughly 10% of the U.S. workforce—restaurants are one of the largest employers in the country and also one of the biggest sectors where work-related injuries occur.
Restaurants are typically fast-paced work environments that have many potential hazards. Some common injuries can occur when an employee slips and falls on a wet or greasy floor, or gets cut on broken glass or by sharp utensils. Other common injuries include severe burns from stoves, grills or hot liquids. Additionally, collisions can occur around swinging doors and blind corners. Restaurants that deliver food or provide catering services also have risks associated with travel.
Restaurant injuries can have serious consequences including absenteeism and restricted job duties that can negatively impact scheduling, operations and service.
Restaurant owners are wise to invest in preventative measures like ongoing cross-training, safety signage, and convex mirrors at high-traffic corners and doors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also published a training manual specifically for restaurant safety.
Worker Compensation in the Manufacturing Industry
With a combination of heavy machinery and a noisy work environment, the manufacturing sector is another high-risk industry. Each year, more than 100,000 workplace injuries occur in manufacturing plants across the U.S. These injuries typically break down into five main categories:
40% Contact with harmful objects
24% Employee overexertion
19% Slips and falls
8% Repetitive motion
6% Contact with harmful substances/chemicals
Injuries in a factory incur obvious direct expenses such as medical bills, but there are also significant indirect costs to the business as well.
In the manufacturing industry, even one employee being on extended leave due to injury, can significantly disrupt the entire operation. An employee with specialized skills or system knowledge cannot be easily replaced. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) has estimated that the indirect costs of an injured worker can be up to 20 times greater than the direct costs.
Indirect costs can include having to hire temporary or replacement workers on short notice. If the injured employee has specialized skills or is particularly productive, temporary labor costs could well exceed the injured employee’s normal salary.
You could experience loss of productivity. Your manufacturing operation may suffer some downtime because of even one injury. That means fewer products being manufactured and ultimately, fewer sales.
You could experience low morale. Employees who have to perform extra tasks to cover for an injured coworker can quickly become disgruntled, while at the same time be concerned about their own safety.
You could experience extra administrative costs. Managing worker compensation claims also means increased paperwork for your HR team and legal departments as well as the possibility of having to hire outside consultants or legal assistance.
It’s easy to see how quickly these extra costs can add up.
Be Proactive in the Workplace
Considering the staffing shortages that already face the restaurant and manufacturing industries, work-place injuries will only compound their problems. The key for HR managers in these sectors is being proactive. This means stepping up training and other actions to support workplace safety and accident prevention. It also means being prepared and knowledgeable about your company’s workers compensation insurance policies along with the specific rules in your state.
Paycor’s Payroll, Onboarding and Learning Management tools can help you manage and process your insurance and legal paperwork, as well as recruit, hire and train temporary workers to fill in for injured employees. When it comes to work-related injuries, nothing beats being prepared.