The hiring process can be stressful for employers and applicants alike. That stress often continues and escalates in the first year on the job. According to OSHA, more than 40 percent of injured employees have been on the job less than a year. To minimize the risk of new hire injuries, companies administer physical capacity tests (post-offer employment testing) to candidates after they’re offered the job. Studies show that on average, testing determines that one in ten applicants is not capable of performing a job. This prevents the individual from potential injury, protecting both the employee and the employer. At Missouri Employers Mutual, one in three lost-time claims involves a new employee, with an average claim cost of $54,000.
In 2013, Schatz Underground was experiencing a high number of injuries. The full-service telecommunications company installs telephone, cable and fiber optics, both aerial and underground. Most of Schatz’s incidents were from material handling, machine operation and digging. Accounting for 85 percent of all losses, these activities require employees with specific physical capabilities and can lead to very severe injuries.
A Proactive Solution
After talking through the costs and benefits of capacity testing, Schatz worked with MEM partner SSM Physical Therapy to implement the program. They established baseline testing for all of their Missouri locations. With the help of POET, Schatz improved its loss ratio from 86 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2016. They also reduced their claims cost by over half. This will help reduce their e-mod, the factor that predicts future losses and affects businesses’ work comp premium.
Eliminating a problem before it starts is key to keeping new hires on the job – productive and injury-free. Aaron Kleekamp, MEM Safety and Risk Consultant, visited the company in 2014 and approached leadership about post-offer employment testing (POET). By matching an employee’s functional capabilities with essential job functions, POET helps minimize the risk of injury. In a previous case at Schatz, an employee injured his knee during his first month on the job. The company later learned that he had multiple knee surgeries before being hired. POET qualifies claims like this one that may include prior injuries.
“We’re a perfect example of the difference capacity testing can make,” said Bill Burgess, Safety Director at Schatz.
“This program helps make sure that our employees can safely do the work we expect of them. The money saved is impressive, but the most important change is that I have fewer employees getting hurt. We went from having more than 20 injuries in a year to just a handful.”