ONE OF an employer’s biggest shocks is to find out that a workplace incident aggravated a pre-existing injury that was sustained at the worker’s prior job.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take if you don’t want to inherit a claim that someone incurred at another employer, or an injury that they may risk aggravating while working for you.

Here are five ways to reduce the chances of incurring such claims to begin with:

Pre-work screenings

Pre-work screenings can weed out applicants who physically cannot perform a job. You can subject them to a test to gauge their ability to perform specific physical demands of the job for which they are applying.

Screenings should especially be used for high-risk jobs, those which cost your business the most in workers’ comp costs. There are two types of pre-employment screenings:

  •  Pre-offer. This screening identifies applicants who are physically able to safely complete the essential job functions of the position for which they are applying.
  • Post-offer. This screening measures the same functions, but you can also require a medical examination at this stage. This can help you identify any disability, including if they are under orders from a doctor to limit certain types of physical activity.

Drug tests/background checks

Drug tests can determine if there is a history of drug use, and, if so, indicate the types of drugs in the system.

Background checks probe the criminal and financial records of an applicant.

If an applicant shows negative incidents on a drug or background check, he or she could be a candidate for future fraudulent activity.

On-site ergonomic solutions

Utilize physical therapists or ergonomists before injuries occur, to work with employees, supervisors and management to understand workflow and all job task requirements.

Those specialists can recommend optimum positions, ergonomic strategies and proper physical movements required at workstations to reduce the chances of employees sustaining musculoskeletal injuries.

Employee education

Educate employees on how to use workers’ comp legitimately, and the consequences of using it illegitimately.

Explain the damage to the employer from malingering and fraud by illustrating how claims affect the premium employers pay.

Information also should be shared about penalties and fines that could be incurred with fraudulent claims.

Educating employees regularly can reduce the chances of fraud.

Prompt injury reporting

Train employees to report any health concerns as soon as they notice any discomfort.

Injuries can develop over time in many jobs when they are executed using improper or ergonomically incorrect motions.

If an employee raises concerns about discomfort to a supervisor, it should be given serious attention.

That way the supervisor, the worker and inside or outside specialists can address the issue.

This can be done through observations and evaluations of the work pattern of the worker, and in comparison to those of others in the department.

The worker should also be sent for medical diagnosis or medical care to treat the discomfort before it becomes a bigger problem.

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