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8/4/2014 4:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: Workers’ Comp Strategies for Trucking

This Opinion piece appears in the Aug. 4 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

By Corey Lile

Founder and CEO

OccuSure Workers’ Compensation Specialists

It seems no good deed goes unpunished for the trucking industry. After climbing out of the bottom of the recession, demand for transporting goods is finally on the rise, and the industry is as steady as it has been in years. While this is encouraging, the rise in demand brings its own set of problems.

With trucking companies vying for qualified drivers to keep increased business moving — literally — companies are aggressively competing for willing workers, which means higher wages and more benefits. All the while, workers’ compensation is meddling in the fray, compounding the financial strain on the industry.

Workers’ comp is already a significant problem for trucking. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the industry has more on-the-job injuries and illnesses than the construction, mining and manufacturing industries. This fact alone makes workers’ comp premiums costly for carriers.

But as fleets grow, companies will have more employees who can get hurt on the job, raising the risk of having to pay even more money in already high workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Also, working conditions will intensify for drivers as they move more product. This will increase the risk for on-the-job injuries and, again, contribute to a rise in premiums.

But for trucking companies, there is hope for controlling the cost of premiums. Though the insurance market remains strong, workers’ compensation can actually contribute to cutting costs — if approached correctly. Where fuel and distribution fees are external and largely out of a carrier’s control, there is internal power to leverage with workers’ comp. By viewing the issue with long-term claims reduction in mind, companies have the power to lower their own premiums — no matter the current state of the insurance market.

But the road to a robust strategy is not as obvious as enforcing stricter safety education and procedures. This is an important step in lowering the number of claims, but injuries on the job are inevitable. For trucking companies, savings will occur in two ways: choosing the right insurance provider and getting injured employees back to work.

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