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May 14, 2019

Careful Hiring Practices: An Essential Step in Reducing the Incidence of Workers’ Compensation Claims

The home health industry needs workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase of 1,208,800 new home health aide and personal care aide positions between 2016 and 2026.  Finding workers to fill those positions may be difficult, leading to worries of a major worker shortage. But despite the need for workers, there’s also a need for smart hiring practices. To keep workers’ compensation claims down, employers must take precautions.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Home health workers face risks that can lead to injuries, and these injuries can lead to workers’ compensation claims. These risks include:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries, often the result of lifting or maneuvering patients
  • Automobile crashes, which can occur when workers drive from one patient’s home to another
  • Assaults, which can occur if patients or others become violent
  • Other accidents, such as tripping and falling, which can occur because workers are constantly visiting different homes with unique layouts and risks

These risks can be made worse if workers are not physically capable of performing essential duties, such as lifting or maneuvering patients, or if they use poor techniques when doing heavy lifting. Dangerous driving habits and criminal tendencies – including filing fraudulent claims – can also result in expensive workers’ compensation claims.

Although these risks cannot be eliminated entirely, careful hiring practices can reduce them.

Careful Hiring Practices

Even with a low unemployment rate, it’s important to keep high hiring standards.

Establish your company as a positive place to work. The goal is to create a strong work environment with proactive policies that help employees be happy and healthy – and to discourage any bad apples from applying.

  • Present applicants with a handbook that gives an overview of your company and its strong company culture. This will help set the right tone from the very start.
  • Conduct post-offer drug testing. Abuse of controlled substances could put the employees, the patients and company at risk. Include a consent form in the application process. 
  • Conduct post-offer criminal background screening. If employees have criminal backgrounds that are relevant to the position they’re applying for, you want to know this. Additionally, state law may require background checks for your workers. Once again, include a consent form in the application process.

Make sure that applicants are able to perform essential job functions safely.

  • Provide a clear description of essential job functions, including any physical requirements, such as the ability to lift a minimum amount of weight. Have applicants complete an ADA-compliant form that lists statements of acceptance regarding essential job functions.
  • Provide a post-offer medical questionnaire. This will help identify candidates who need a post-offer, pre-hire physical so they can undergo a physical stress test.

Continue best practices during the onboarding process and beyond.

  • Provide written copies of all policies and procedures for employees to read and sign.
  • Create a personnel file for every employee and include copies of policy forms there.
  • Maintain a strong company culture and enforce company policies.
  • Provide safety training and tips. OSHA has good resources for home care workers.

Count on Heffernan Insurance Brokers for Guidance

Need assistance? Heffernan Insurance Brokers offers a pre-hire training webinar to help safeguard your home health company against the risk of employment and workers’ compensation exposures. Our team can also help you assess and manage coverage for other potential liabilities such as Directors & Officers, Cyber & Identity Theft, Sexual Abuse, Medical billing, Crime and more. Learn more about insurance for home care businesses.


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