When evaluating risk management and how to control risk, we often focus our efforts on participants. However, as an operator, builder, or vendor in the aerial adventure industry, the greatest asset that we should be worried about protecting is our team members, our employees. Without these awesome and stellar team members, your operations would not be able to function at the level they do or more importantly, provide the ultimate customer experience that we seek to deliver.
Trends and Solutions of Employee Injuries
Prior to deciding how we can reduce the number of employee injuries, it is important to first understand trends in employee injuries. Where are they coming from? What are some common characteristics?
TREND: Twisting of body parts (knees, ankles, backs, etc.). This is by far the most common injury that we see in the aerial adventure industry. Team members in the aerial industry are constantly twisting and turning on uneven surfaces.
SOLUTION: Control the claim. Unfortunately, these claims are hard to prevent or predict. They happen in the weirdest situations and times. This being the case, it is more important to control the injury after it occurs and some of these action items will be discussed in just moments, below.
TREND: Falls from a height. These are the second most frequent incident we see and first when it comes to severity. As you can imagine, a fall from height can be devastating. Whether it be from 6 feet of 40 feet, the results can be life-changing or life-ending. Another trend within falls from height are: 1) They occur from someone who has safety or procedure violations in the past or 2) they occur from tenured staff.
SOLUTION: Create redundancy and take minor violations seriously. With most serious incidents (including falls from heights) there are many “bread crumbs” of minor safety or procedure violations that lead up to this. Take these minor violations seriously and have a protocol for addressing them. What happens on the first violation? What about the second? Make sure these consequences are the same for ALL members of staff, including management. Remember, safety starts with the CEO/President!
TREND: Safety is not seen from the CEO, President, or Management team. Safety starts at the top of the organization. If the CEO of the company is not exhibiting the safety or risk management characteristics that the management team is preaching, the staff will not respect them.
SOLUTION: The CEO, President, and/or Management team should all be held accountable to someone for their safety and risk management actions. Accountability is key here and the management team is not only a part of holding others accountable but being held accountable as well.
TREND: Employees in the aerial adventure industry never want to admit they are injured, until it’s too late. I would imagine that most of your employees are “Rub some dirt on it and walk it off” type of employees. This is a great thing because they are hard workers, however, it is not so great when it comes to a serious injury. It is statistically shown that injuries that are reported 3+ days after the incident develop into 200%+ of injuries report within the first 2 days.
SOLUTION: Require all employee injuries be reported by sunset that day. Make it an operational procedure that all injuries be reported by sunset the day it occurs. Whether it be a section in your Trip Report, Daily Report, etc. it needs to be a question that is asked. Make it a positive thing when they report an injury the day that it occurs and a negative thing when they report it a day or multiple days after the incident.
TREND: Employers do not have a plan of action for employee injury. Employers and even the team members do not know what the plan of action is when a team member is hurt. Many employers fear that team members knowing about workers’ compensation or the procedures for workers’ compensation could lead to more claims. This is a common myth. In actuality, the misunderstanding of what to do when an employee injury happens can drastically increase the long-term cost of the claim and workers’ compensation premiums.
SOLUTION: Cover the proper action steps during the employee hiring process. Workers’ compensation and employee injuries should be covered in your hiring process. For example, what are the expectations if you are injured at work? What is the expectation if you see someone else injured at work? Establish the procedure and expectations from the get-go.
Other Practical Tips:
- Have a “Light Duty Program” for team members who are injured but may not be able to return to their full capacity.
- Have a pre-selected medical provider that is familiar with your company and its objective to get the employee in the “Light Duty Program” as quickly as possible, rather than not working at home.
- Seek out your agent/broker for advice on how to set-up a “Light Duty Program” or select a medical provider. These two action items alone can have significant impacts on your long-term workers’ compensation costs.
The first step to reducing employee injuries and the costs associated with them is to prevent them. However, in my opinion, the industry as a whole does a relatively good job of doing this. Where we can improve is the management or control of the injury after it occurs. Instead of being reactive to the situation, be proactive. Have a set procedure or plan (even published at your operation) of the steps after an employee injury. This should include steps from going to the medical provider the day the injury occurs, all the way through them returning to their position they were at before they were injured. Your team members are your greatest asset. Protect them like your business depends on it! Because it does.
Cameron Annas, Vice President of Granite Insurance, is a national leader in providing risk management and insurance solutions to the Adventure Sport industry. For further questions or inquiries, please contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org or (828) 396-3342.