For over 20 years, the Minnesota Workers Compensation Insurance Association (MWCIA) has conducted an annual test audit review, pulling from a sample of employers across the state. Designed to verify the accuracy of the statistics reported to the MWCIA, the test audit program reviews the work of auditors working for or on behalf of insurance carriers.
The result has been an increasing trend in the number of errors or, audits that are flat-out wrong. The latest test audit, released January 25 of this year, reported 67.2% of audits conducted in 2017 had errors. Most errors work in favor of the industry, often resulting in an inflated experience mod and higher cost of work comp insurance for the employer.
After a few uneventful years, incorrect audits in 2015 to an astounding 77.8%. Roughly 4 out of 5 audits were wrong. Incorrect audits held near 70% for 2017.
Audit errors occur for many reasons, but the main reason with a lot of employers is the right questions are not being asked, or the employer does not know the rules.
Why Isn’t More Being Done to Ensure Accuracy?
The MWCIA conducts the test audit, but think of it more as a clearing house: whatever the carrier submits, right or wrong, is what the MWCIA uses to calculate your mod, and consequently, what you pay for insurance.
The insurance carrier is not responsible for checking for these errors, and most brokers simply do not have the time, training, or resources to dedicate to reviewing audits. There is also little incentive for brokers to spend time on audit errors.
Employers are not helpless, however. You can get your mod corrected you just have to know where to look. Review your experience mod and audit worksheet for these common errors:
Look for 000s
When have you ever had a year where your payroll was a flat amount? If you notice 000s for payroll in your summary sheet, then it’s wrong.
Look at What Counts as Payroll
Employers may not know what should be included as payroll and auditors typically do not ask. In the state of Minnesota, there are exceptions, also known as “excluded remuneration.” If you include these exceptions in your payroll count, you’re inflating you own mod and paying more for it.
Look for Incorrect Class Codes
The state rates each class of employee based on their level of risk. A clerical worker who sits at a desk all day is at lower risk for a workplace injury than a factory worker on the plant floor. If your employees are coded incorrectly, it could mean you are paying more for exposures that do not exist.
Just as young children beginning their educational journey, the implementation of a successful safety program as part of your integrative workers comp management practices involves a thorough foundation in the basics of workplace injury prevention. Do you know your workplace injury prevention ABCs?
There are 3 Main Ways to Prevent Workplace Injury
Are you using these building blocks to create a stable foundation within your company?
Developing and implementing proper rules and procedures protects workers. Typically put into effect by owners or supervisors, these include:
- Chemical/cleaning product storage procedures.
- Limits on repetitive motion tasks/job rotation.
- Age limits for dangerous equipment operation.
- Protective equipment requirements (goggles, earplugs).
- Controls for reducing exposure to hazards (time limits for pesticide application, distance for x-rays).
B uilding Barriers
Mechanical controls such as shields or guards are the best way to prevent injuries in the workplace. Circumventing the need to rely on employees to make safe choices every time, these environmental changes make it easier to reliably control/prevent injuries. Examples include:
- Non-slip surfaces.
- Guards (on hot/sharp/dangerous equipment).
- Ventilation to preserve air quality.
- Personal protective equipment (safety clothing, respirators, gloves).
Communication with employees, including proper training, is essential to encouraging a safety culture and ensuring compliance. After all, a worker cannot apply knowledge he himself has not learned, such as the dangers of improperly stored chemicals or exposure to blood. Necessary communication can be implemented many ways:
- Hands-on/In-person training.
- Online training.
- Reminders on bulletin boards, hallways, and break areas.
Now you know your ABCs! Build a strong foundation and achieve workers comp management goals. Learn more with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.
No matter how small your business, it's possible to minimize the health and financial impacts of workplace injuries. This can be accomplished with a team approach to workers comp management geared toward preventing injuries before they occur.
Integrating a Team Approach
What steps should you take to create a safer, more positive work environment for employees?
1. Engage E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E.
The most successful safety programs involve management and employee collaboration. Safety is everyone’s job. Encouraging employees to identify and report hazards and incidents here is key.
2. Ensure a Smooth Transition.
Tasking specific employees and managers with the implementation, maintenance and improvement portions of safety program components.
3. Honestly Assess.
Perform a top-to-bottom evaluation of your business, from equipment to activities, engaging with employees to learn their safety concerns. (And performing an evaluation again each time new operations, equipment or facilities are added.)
4. Take Action.
Identification and awareness are not enough. When hazards are identified, they must be quickly and safely controlled or removed. This includes fixing or replacing broken equipment, as well as adding new safety measures or changing operations – no matter how longstanding. Preventing even a single incident will likely cover associated costs – and then some!
5. Don’t Forego Formal Training.
Go beyond easily ignored reading materials to include live demonstrations, hazard identification and reporting procedures – even first-aid training - to ensure not only immersion and involvement, but also rapid response to incidents.
6. Earn ROI from RRI:
- Review your program regularly.
- Respond quickly to incidents and near-misses.
- Improve programs to correct dangerous situations.
Feeling alone? Join a team that can help you excel at meeting your workers comp management needs. Contact Minnesota Comp Advisor today.