Guest Post: Surviving Worker’s Compensation Claims

Welcome to our friend Marvin Brown for this week’s guest post.  His team at ARCpoint Labs of Murfreesboro is a great resource to reduce your company’s for liability.

What do these cases have in common?images

  • Janet injures her hand while intoxicated.
  • Tom loses his hand with methamphetamines and alcohol in his system
  • Tony experiences 3rd degree burns, but is found to have marijuana in his system.

All of these employees filed workers compensation claims, and were denied …right?  As Lee Corso would say, “Not So Fast…”

These three cases demonstrate not only the need for sound safety practices, but also the importance of strong policies related to drugs and alcohol.  Tennessee, like many other states, has a Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP) that has significant benefits to employers to help them manage risk and improve employee safety within their businesses.

Over the past 5 years, Tennessee has had over 500,000 reports for injuries to the state of Tennessee.  The data shows that on the low side 38% of all Workers’ Compensation claims are related to substance abuse.   Those are BIG numbers that could be positively impacted by administering better workplace programs. 

Did you know that 74% of all drug users are employed?  That means every morning Janet, Tom, and Tony arrive at YOUR place of employment (Well, maybe not every morning, because substance abusers are more than twice* as likely to not show up to work, and tend to be absent more than seven days* a year.), on the days that they do show up, substance abuse workers are shown to be 1/3 as productive.   Would you say that is a problem?  There is more – Healthcare expenses are easily a hot topic for companies, especially small businesses.  Medical costs for substance abusers are 300% higher than your workers who are not substance abusers.  And lastly, there is a higher turnover rate for workers who abuse substances.

Those are sobering numbers to be sure, but how can solid drug policies and testing programs help your company and the aforementioned companies above that employ Janet, Tom, and Tony? Consider the benefits of participating in the Tennessee’s Drug Free Workplace Program:

  • Insurance:  Your Company receives a 5% premium credit.
  • Selection/Rejection: Discharge or discipline of an employee, or refusing to hire a job applicant who is found to be in violation of the covered employer’s Drug Free Workplace Program will be considered done for cause. 
  • Proof Burden:  If an employee suffers a workplace injury and receives a positive confirmed post-accident drug test for illegal use of drugs or alcohol, or refuses to submit to a post-accident drug or alcohol test, the burden of proof is shifted to the employee.

That last point can be huge, and was a big part of how the cases for Janet, Tom, and Tony were decided.  ALL of their workers’ compensation claims were approved.  Surprised?  None of the companies participated in the Drug Free Workplace Program, which ultimately required them to prove that the dominant reason the employees were hurt was due to substance abuse versus, unsafe work conditions.

Where do you go from here?  Awareness and execution are the keys.  Employers have to manage risk, increase productivity, and hopefully save dollars.  Just like the Tennessee’s Drug Free Workplace Program, there are tools and services out there to help create safer workplaces with a positive return of investment. 

Connect with Marvin and his team to learn more about protecting your organization from the hidden costs and liabilities of drug use.

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