When looking for ways to reduce workers' compensation claims and lost time(days away from work), most safety and risk managementprofessionals look to the obvious: designing and re-designing theworkplace to prevent injuries, injury prevention training, workingwithin OSHA regulations, posting signs and reminders to worksafely, addressing injuries as they occur and putting measures inplace to prevent other injuries.

Yet, with all the prevention measures, lost time claims still occur and they arecostly. Why?

Supervisor's impact

What's often overlooked is the impact that the injured employee's supervisor has on the injuryand claim. Do supervisors know that their response to the employeein pain can determine the length of the employee's disability? In“theory,” of course they know it's important to be nice, but inreality, is this what supervisors practice when their employeescomplain of discomfort, pain or have an injury? Does it matter?

Research shows that it does matter. A National OccupationalResearch Agenda (NORA) Innovative Research Award-winning researchstudy by Shaw, et al., “Supervisor Training to Optimize Response to WorkerInjuries,” showed that just four hours of supervisor trainingon communication skills and respect of injured workers, along withergonomic accommodations for injured workers reduced lost timeclaims by 47 percent. The study also showed an 18 percent reductionin existing claims and an 80 percent reduction in workers' compcosts.

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