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Here’s the good news: trucking companies are reporting fewer workers’ comp claims than previous years. What’s the not-so-good news? The average cost of those claims is considerably more than in other industries. With more on-the-job injuries, higher medical expenses, and loss compensation, costs can quickly soar. Industry-specific health issues plague many truckers and greatly impact workers' comp expenses. As drivers strive to meet the demands of their job and tight schedules, health can take the backseat—bad habits are bound to spring up. So problems such as smoking, poor diet, low physical activity, and lack of sleep are all too common. As a result, drivers are more at risk for developing serious conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and muscular and spinal injuries. Dr. Frank—a local chiropractor in Broadview Heights, Ohio—says that the majority of his patients are truckers seeking treatment for neck and back pain. Because of the negative effects that trucking can have on health, more and more drivers are sinking into the workers’ comp system—only to feed the driver shortage. Workers’ comp rates are mainly determined by the number of drivers and their salaries, but rates vary a great deal from state to state. In Mississippi, for example, workers’ comp could cost around $250 per driver per month, while you could drop a whopping $625 in California. While that may sound like a decent chunk of change, it’s nothing compared to the dollars you could dish out if a major catastrophe strikes. In the face of a crisis, workers’ comp turns out to be a wise investment.

Let’s look into some practical ways to cut costs:

  • Create an employee safety plan, along with a safety management program that addresses common driver injuries and how to prevent them.

  • Watch for misclassification of employees, which can seriously increase the cost of workers’ comp. Make sure that your insurance agent reviews the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) codes to avoid overpaying.

  • Understand how your company’s Experience Modification Factor (EMF) is calculated and what you can do to lower it. The more losses your company faces, the higher your EMF will be, and the more you’ll have to pay for those losses as a result.

  • Create and encourage participation in wellness and weight-loss programs that address health problems common to truck drivers. Zinc’s trucking specialist Josh Freet recommends investing in pool memberships for truckers, which often offer discounted group rates.

  • Close claims as soon as possible and immediately report them to the governing agent. The fewer open claims, the better.

Your Safest Bet

Due to a high risk of on-the-job injury, trucking companies often shoulder the weight of costly workers’ compensation claims. Health conditions common to a sedentary but stressful lifestyle also pose a serious threat, both to drivers and employers—medical expenses stack up quickly. And workers’ comp rates can skyrocket from one state to another, something that’s beyond your control. How can you meet these challenges? Make safety and good health your focus. Enforcing a clear safety plan will help prevent driver injuries, and providing wellness programs for drivers will encourage healthier habits. When you take these practical steps, you can give your employees the support they need while keeping your company strong.

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