Case Study

How SiteSafe360 is saving one company $182,000

In this case study we will show how a company had rapid growth and managed to reduce its expenses over many years of diligent work only to be afflicted with a workplace incident pushing their workers compensation premiums up by nearly 57 percent. After recovering over the next five years, they were then left in an almost unsustainable financial position due to a further 3 incidents. The below is a true account of a construction sub-contractors battle to survive. For reasons of anonymity the company name has been omitted.

Report

Note: This graph is a true account of the company studied and the correlation between incidents and the rise and fall of insurance premiums.

After starting a subcontracting business in the mid 90’s with a team under 10 employees it was a hard yet rewarding struggle. Insurance premiums were extreme, particularly for workers compensation. The company was paying 21% of it wages in workers compensation premiums. The company was growing and towards the end of the 90’s they had 24 employees, an annual wage bill of $1.3 million and an insurance bill of more than $250k. It was at this time an aggressive strategy to lower their risk and thus lower premiums was to be implemented.

The company employed a safety manager with a mandate to reduce risk to employees in a measurable method so it could be demonstrated to an insurer that they should be paying a lower premium.

Almost immediately there was a difference. There was daily prestart meeting, weekly toolbox talks. Vehicle and equipment checks. Team moral went up along with productivity. It was always thought safety would cost the company money, but quite the contrary. The company was making more and spending less. They had consistently reduced their premium every year. Even a small margin would allow extra funds for capital purchases.

Every year leading up to insurance renewals the safety manager would prepare a detailed analysis of the safety performance of the company. And every year the premiums would decrease. However, over time apathy creeped in, the company was still doing all the things the safety manager had implemented but they were just going through the motions. “Listen here, sign this, do that”. It had become methodical routine.

Circa 2013 complacency could be seen within the team although not obvious to the company itself.Now grown to 42 employees with a wage bill of over $2.5 million. As fortune would have it the company hadn’t suffered any reportable incidents in many years and were now bosting an insurance premium of 10.2%, still a large chunk of cash at a little over $250K.  And things were looking promising for another premium cut in 2014. Until a simple accident on a wet piece of plywood where a long-term employee slipped resulting in a hyper extended knee. There was some swelling and severe pain. The injured person was taken to hospital to be diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament tear. There was surgery followed by a rest, recovery and rehabilitation period of 22 weeks. The employee had a return to work program that lasted a further 6 weeks, eventually making a full recovery and returning to his preinjury duties.

For the company this meant finding a replacement employee and a claim against their workers compensation policy for lost wages, medical expenses and rehabilitation totalling $96,152. Their 2014 review wasn’t looking so favourable. Upon seeking a policy renewal, the company was shocked to find they had jumped from 9.1% to 16.0%.

Again, the company raised its safety awareness and over the next 5 years managed to lower the premium close to their previous bestto 9.8%. But complacency again crept in, new staff were employed, and turnover was at an all time high. Focus transitioned from safety to productivity without anybody noticing. The company had grown and had 63 employees. The wage bill was now at $5.2 million, when the unthinkable happened.

Within the space of 4 months 3 serious accidents occurred. A broken ankle, a severed limb and twisted knee. All required long term medical attention. All required extended time off work and all required rehabilitation.

The broken ankle had a total cost of $135,000

The severed limb totalled $112, 000

And the twisted knee at last count was $74,000 and climbing

These are expected to have a negative effect on the company’s insurance premiums. Early estimates would indicate a rise to the vicinity of the 18% percent mark although the insurer remains non committal at this point.

A worker’s compensation premium of 18% at this time of the company’s life is an almost untenable position to be in. It is estimated that it will take 5 years to return to the pre incident position of 2019. As the company explores additional methods of ensuring safety best practice, they looked towards SiteSafe360 for some answers.

With a goal to make every employee a safety advocate and give them a clear voice and the company looked SiteSafe360. Not just for the team leaders but for every employee. SiteSafe has empowered everyone to report and act on matters of safety.

The company is now refocused on safety, implemented a Target Zero Policy. Applied a KPI on hazard reporting to maximising reporting and minimising hazards. It is the goal of the company to cut their recovery of 5 years to 4 years saving them $182,000 in the next5 years as demonstrated in the chart below.

Note: These are projections only and are subject to change with staff numbers fluctuating.
The rise in wages and salaries has not been calculated into the final estimates so there is a high probability the actual savings would be greater than indicated.

Summary

Despite the company taking positive action with safety, their systems and policies were non-inclusive of the all staff. Interviews with the employees revealed they felta disconnectfrom management, others felt the pressure of productivity over safety, and some felt their concerns weren’t supported by their supervisors.

It was evident that something had to change. The goal was to enhance existing systems and procedures rather than reinventing them. The Site Safe program will give every employee a clear voice. Action will be taken to avoid escalation. Safety will improve.

Previously the company had one Safety Manager and two Health and Safety Representatives. They also had 7 Supervisors that would juggle their time between productivity and safety, with productivity often winning. With the new Site Safe program, they now have 62 individual safety sensors. 62 people reporting on hazards and avoiding incidents.

There is a positive attitude amongst the safe and the management team are already reporting an increase in productivity.

With the insurer buying in to the new program the future of the company looks secure and the projected savings of $182,000 will allow the company to purchase more advanced equipment to promote safety even further.

Key points

  • Investment in safety will protect a company’s future.
  • Give employees ownership of their workplace safety.
  • Refresh your safety procedures so they don’t become mundane.