Five Resolutions You’ll Want to Keep in the New Year

‘Tis the season to make resolutions. Ways to cut waste and improve your business likely figure highly on the list. But if you’re wondering where to start, we’ve got five suggestions on how you can kick the New Year off with safety, wellness and loss prevention in clear sight.

Trust us, these are resolutions you can keep.

1. Battle the bulge in the workplace 

More worrisome than that extra five pounds you may have gained over the holidays, about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, says a recent article in Risk & Insurance. That translates to medical costs that are more than five times higher in severely obese workers than those with a normal body mass index (BMI), according to new studies by NCCI.

And while many employers offer incentive or wellness programs in the workplace, those that work share these characteristics:

“Experts at WELCOA (Wellness Councils of America) point to seven benchmarks of successful, results-oriented employer wellness programs:

  • Capture CEO support.
  • Create cohesive wellness teams.
  • Collect data to drive health efforts.
  • Craft an operating plan.
  • Choose appropriate interventions.
  • Create a supportive environment.
  • Carefully evaluate outcomes.

Tackling an effective plan isn’t an overnight process, but if you need motivation to get started, consider this: recent studies indicate that medical claim costs per 100 workers were more than $51,000 for the severely obese and more than $23,300 for the moderately obese, compared to $7,500 for “normal” BMI and more than $13,300 for those categorized as “overweight.”

2. Lift and bend the right way – and save

According to numbers extrapolated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about $1 of every $3 of workers compensation costs can be attributed to occupational musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back injuries, muscle strain or tendinitis. Additionally, U.S. employers pay about $15-20 billion a year in workers’ comp costs for lost workdays.

The good news is that with a little bit of planning and training, injury can be prevented. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) suggests putting in place an ergonomic process with elements that include strong management support, worker involvement in workplace assessments and solution development; regular ergonomic training; early identification of problems and encouragement of early reporting can help to minimize injury and claims.

3. Make sure return-to-work isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan

In years past, temporary positions for workers returning from injury were built around available positions, instead of working out an approach that keeps the returning worker top of mind. But flexibility in combining position functions, or even customizing a temporary position around the needs of the returning employee have big potential benefits.

Among the biggest bennies of a flexible return-to-work program is the potential to prevent a medical-only claim from turning into a lost time claim, a more expensive prospect. Other benefits to programs include maintaining close communication with the employee, improving morale and keeping productivity moving along at a steady clip.
You can read more about how to structure effective return-to-work programs here.

4. Dust off your safety plan, and use it year round

Preventing some injuries (and premium dollars besides), means exercising your safety plan. Making regular safety reviews a regular part of your work and training schedule not only communicates that sticking to safe practices is important to you, but gives you a regular opportunity to learn of any potential hazards or problems early on, or of new ideas to improve safety in the workplace.

According to a recent study by Howard Mavity, a labor lawyer and partner at Fisher & Phillips, employers oftentimes did not learn about unsafe behavior until a post-injury investigation, after a claim had already been filed.

You can read more about ways you can incorporate safety training throughout the work year here. 

5. Get advice from the pros

Not sure where to begin? Schedule an annual safety audit to find out where the hazards lie and how to fix them. Spotting and correcting potential danger not only allows you to breathe easy when MI-OSHA comes calling, but also is an easy way to avoid some of the top causes of workplace injuries, including overexertion, slip-and-fall accidents and being hit by falling objects.

According to research by the Liberty Mutual Group, the top five workplace injuries are responsible for nearly three-quarters of workers compensation costs.

A little professional advice could go a long way towards racking up savings in the New Year – a resolution everyone can get behind.