Jim Mecham, MSIE, OTR/L, CPE |
Owner/Partner, Chief Operations Officer
OSHA first aid early intervention programs are all the buzz these days. Companies throughout the United States are looking for ways to keep their employees healthy, avoid injuries, provide ergonomic improvements, and increase their employee retention rate. Employers are always concerned about their return on investment - will they have an increase in OSHA recordables, and exactly what can and can’t you do within the OHSHA first aid guidelines to minimize medical treatment to avoid them. On the flip side, employers do not want to deny medical treatment or an OSHA recordable when a musculoskeletal incident exceeds the level of a minor incident.
OccuCare Injury Prevention recently looked at our national data to glean the value of these programs for employers and employees. The value employers see is straightforward. Based on national injury prevention data from the last two years, it suggests 35% of incidents are work-related and 65% are non-work related musculoskeletal care. It is clear there is a huge trend in these programs seeing employees for non-work related musculoskeletal care. From an employer benefit perspective, they saved $2,287,160 in direct medical costs on work-related musculoskeletal incidents with an early intervention program, but how does it also help the employees?
Even though at first glance these programs are implemented so the employer can experience significant benefits, which they do, the employees benefit even more from these programs. Here is what our national data shows us.
Reduce Cost and Pain
Over the last two years, 703 employees who were experiencing non-work related aging musculoskeletal symptoms did not need to seek medical care to address the wear and tear on their bodies. This saved $3,308,064 in insurance costs and saved these employees $628,532.16 in out-of-pocket expenses. This was a savings per employee of $894.07 in co-insurance and deductibles. This suggests a huge saving for the average employee in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Over the same time, OccuCare Injury Prevention provided services for 5,457 employees. On average these employees began seeing an onsite, near site, or rapid rehab injury prevention specialist and they experienced discomfort at 3.44 on a 0-10 discomfort scale. These employees were seen for 4.89 visits (on average) in these programs and experienced a 43% reduction in discomfort. Again, a huge value to employees who can experience less discomfort in as little as 4.89 visits.
Increase Retention Rate
The other trend that is apparent with an OSHA first aid musculoskeletal early intervention program is the improvement in retention rate. This is also a value to the employee. When employees know there is care at their employer for an aging ache or pain, they are more likely to go to work and stay employed at that company which provides an ongoing sense of worth and personal value within the workforce. Staying employed has value for both the employer and the employee.
Win-Win for Both
It’s important to think about both sides of the coin when providing early intervention programs. The employer value of fewer recordables, less work comp cost, more productivity, lower DART/Incident/Severity Rates, and higher employee retention are important. And also, perhaps even more important is sending the employee home to their family every day with less discomfort whether it is work-related or not. Plus, less out-of-pocket expenses and they will likely remain working for an employer that demonstrates a great benefit of an injury prevention program.