One of the most important factors in reducing workers’ compensation claims and in turn policy rate is your hiring process. The people you hire, their background, and their contribution to risk in your business, are hugely important, and yet fewer employers than ever before are conducting the types of credit and criminal background checks that could catch these risks before someone is on staff.
Injuries can happen almost immediately when the wrong person is hired for the job without proper screening. For this reason alone, spending extensive time investigating, screening, and evaluating job candidates can decrease the chances of a workers’ compensation claim due to someone who is either unqualified or inexperienced in the field.
WHAT YOU CAN DO DURING THE HIRING PROCESS
Part of the reason many employers hesitate to perform deeper background checks and prescreening is concern about what they are allowed to do. There are a number of state and federal laws that restrict the types of questions you can ask and factors you can evaluate when hiring. You should certainly consult an attorney before adjusting your hiring guidelines, but here are some of the areas in which you can expand your evaluation to reduce risk in the workplace:
- Job Interviews – The first line of defense if a good job interview. Ask a series of open ended questions to determine how someone would act in a certain situation. Ask them how they would perform the basic functions of the job – a good way to determine safety mindset and experience. Hold multiple job interviews with different members of your team to evaluate consistency in your answers as well.
- Ask About Past Absence – Get a sense of the employee’s work ethic with specific questions about sick leave taken in the past, frequency of tardiness, and whether they have filed any workers’ compensation claims. You can also get general information about these factors from past employers. Be careful not to ask about specific illnesses or situations that would cross the lines of what is acceptable in these conversations.
- Perform a Background Check – Background checks should be mandatory for all qualified job candidates. This should include criminal record check, work history check, substance abuse test, education verification, DMV report if applicable, and tests specific to your company based on specific job duties or culture. This is very time consuming, but it can save you even more time (and money) by weeding out potential risks in advance.
The goal here is not to make it harder for someone to work for you, but to ensure it is a good fit for both parties. It can help candidates as well, exposing them to your company culture, work ethic expectations, and general guidelines before committing to the job.
WHAT TO ASK YOUR CANDIDATES
There are several questions you can ask your job candidates to help streamline the process and ensure that you get the information you need during an interview:
- What do you feel are the most common injuries in the industry? How do you recommend employers reduce these injuries?
- Have you participated in past workplace safety activities and training? Are you interested in doing so again?
- Do you feel all workplace injuries can be prevented? If not, which injuries are unpreventable and why?
- Have you experienced a potential safety risk before that you helped to resolve through evaluation or reporting?
The goal here is to get a sense of their safety mindset. If these issues are not top of mind, especially in a risk-heavy industry like manufacturing or construction, you should seriously consider if they will fit your company culture.