Workers' Compensation

Best Practices

Here are some examples of best practices that have facilitated organizational change to a culture of workplace safety. These examples can be put into practice in virtually any nonprofit. One of the most important ways to successfully embed safety into an organization's culture is to have a lead person for safety (safety coordinator) with authority to enforce safety standards or look for ways to share responsibility for safety within the organization. Another important factor is the presence of an active safety committee to conduct a periodic reviews and training.

Collaborating with your insurance provider is important in reducing the cost of workers' compensation claims. Being an active partner with your provider will put both your nonprofit and the insurer on the same page. One of the most important components of this partnership is the timely reporting of claims, using online claims management, if available. Insurance providers need to know as soon as possible if there is even the possibility of a claim.

It is important to manage a workers' compensation claim closely. Stay in touch with those employees who are out on disability and, if possible, institute a flexible return to work or light duty program. Make accident investigation forward-looking rather than punitive. It is much more important to maintain a level of openness and receptivity to determine the root cause of the incident.

The use of an ombudsman can be very important in deflecting workplace violence. The presence of an ombudsman can diffuse difficult situations, and direct the parties involved to either mediation of some form, or to the organization's grievance procedure. Also important is training receptionists to defuse potentially violent situations.

The board of directors needs to include safety as an agenda item at least once a quarter. Board members need to know the progress that is being made in establishing a culture of workplace safety. Board members also need to know how much accidents and injuries are costing the nonprofit on a quarterly and annual basis.

In establishing a safety culture, " near misses" are valuable. It is important to document safety violations by means of a standardized form an analysis of the documented "near misses" can reveal patterns, which will provide clues to larger problems.