As published in Insurance Journal
Workers’ compensation claims can significantly impact a business’s productivity and bottom line. Out-of-work employees cause company leaders to deal with the burden of a smaller workforce, training replacement staff, and taking additional measures to ensure employee safety. With the National Council on Compensation Insurance reporting the average cost for a workers’ comp claim at $41,003, the stakes are high. For businesses looking to protect their employees and reduce injuries, emerging technologies play an important role. Independent agents have an opportunity to advise businesses on risk mitigation through partnerships with carriers that are investing in new ways and advanced technology solutions to reduce risk to workers.
Understanding workplace risks
One of the leading workers’ compensation risks is ergonomics-related incidents, such as manual material handling and repetitive upper extremity movements that cause musculoskeletal disorders, strains or sprains. In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 28% of manufacturing injuries were related to strains, sprains and tears. Mitigating these types of injuries helps to protect employees and reduce the need for businesses to use temporary help.
Leveraging AI technology to reduce risk
Emerging technologies, from water sensors to telematics and more, are having a broad, positive impact on insurance coverage risk reduction. Many companies have already seen the advantages of automation powered by AI technology, and can now reap the benefits this technology offers in reducing workplace injuries. Examples of advanced technologies to mitigate risk in the workplace include:
- Ergonomic wearable sensors – These sensors track an employee’s movements throughout a job task, including throughout the day, to record risk. Ergonomic video analysis, using artificial intelligence, enables real-time data to be analyzed as an employee completes a task or series of tasks. By collecting the movement data and assigning a risk score, loss control experts can provide recommendations, best practices, and guidelines to reduce losses. The technology also provides immediate feedback with tips for the employee to modify a task or body position to reduce the potential for injury.
- Video analysis – The use of technologies such as wearable sensors and video analysis have significantly improved the field of ergonomics and workers’ compensation. For decades, loss control experts and ergonomics professionals used time-consuming manual observation methods to complete job evaluations, oftentimes requiring an expert to be on-site to evaluate workers’ risks while performing their job tasks. This creates scheduling challenges for the customer since they must plan to fit with the production schedule or hours of operation of the business. With new technology capabilities, the focus has started to shift from manual observation to analysis through virtual, real-time data collection to reduce onsite worker injury. This technology can help business owners minimize the number of workers’ comp claims related to normal job activities.
- Data collection – Sensors and video are amplifying the data available for businesses to reduce the potential risks. By leveraging technology to collect data, it can be stored, analyzed and then applied to similar situations, enabling insurance carriers to help business owners maintain a safer and healthier work environment, ultimately achieving better outcomes. This can add tremendous value for businesses, helping to prevent common injuries caused by certain movements and tasks.
Agents who stay current on the technology available will continue to deliver more value to their customers. Partnering with a carrier that puts an emphasis on innovation in risk management can help your customers better understand their risks, and put in place proactive loss prevention plans for their organizations. At The Hanover, we invest in solutions for independent agents to help mitigate risks for clients.
Learn more about The Hanover’s risk solutions for workers’ compensation
About the author
Christina Villena joined The Hanover in 2014 and leads the company’s loss control and risk management and mitigation efforts for commercial lines where she has focused on driving innovation throughout the risk solutions department in the assessment and service delivery to the company’s commercial lines, specialty and personal lines policyholders.