As OSHA makes changes to its injury reporting policies, workers compensation insurers may be affected.
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OSHA injury reporting changes may affect workers comp insurers

As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration makes changes to its workplace injury and illness reporting guidelines, workers compensation insurers may have to reconsider their internal risk management and accident prevention policies.

OSHA's Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule will require employers in high-hazard industries to meet electronic recordkeeping guidelines for reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. In addition, they must make these records publicly available as data to be posted on OSHA's website. According to a report in Business Insurance, this should provide an additional incentive to workers compensation insurers to prevent workplace safety incidents, as this information is used by OSHA to publicly shame repeated violators and their workers comp insurers.

"OSHA has made a habit of naming both employers and their workers comp insurers in news releases about citations."

Speaking at a National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety & Health, David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said the agency has previously made a habit of naming both employers and their workers comp insurers in news releases about citations and fines issued for violations of safety regulations.

"These are cases in which the employer's actions really were egregious, one or more workers were hurt very seriously and the actions taken by employers should have been stopped long before the workers got hurt," Michaels said. "I had a discussion with one executive at one [insurance] carrier saying, 'Why did you list us on the press release, we had nothing to do with this. I said, 'That's exactly right. The workers compensation carriers should play a role in this.'"

Collaboration between insurer and client crucial 
Business Insurance had previously reported that OSHA has begun naming both cited employers and their workers compensation insurers in instances where citations and fines were above $40,000.

"For some companies, the damage to their corporate image may be more of a deterrent than the fines OSHA may issue," the agency said in a statement released to Business Insurance. "Likewise, we recognize that workers compensation insurers can have a role in influencing companies to implement safety and health management systems and reduce the risk to employees."

Many states require workers comp insurers to provide accident prevention services to employers. However, even if this is not required by law, insurers are encouraged to offer these programs. As PropertyCasuatly 360 reported,  a properly run workers' compensation insurance program is the property and casualty coverage where a business has the most opportunity to reduce its claims and cost.

PC360 recommended that workers comp insurers work with employers to implement the most current methodologies for evaluating and tracking the performance of the workers' compensation program, including determining what areas of the company have the highest risk for injury. Insurers should also make sure the company's executives understand the cost of a workplace injury beyond immediate compensation, especially as OSHA changes may present public relations challenges. Businesses can also use this information to evaluate their insurer and grade its performance in helping the organization to mitigate its risks.