Workers’ Compensation 2015: Creating Safer Workplaces and Reducing Costs Through Predictive Analytics and Technology
Predictive analytics, risk assessments, wearable technology, and other tools have a variety of applications in workers’ compensation, including injury prevention, employee wellness, and insurance program management.
Analytics is not a new concept in insurance, but it’s often been underused. Employers can use data, analytics, and technology tools to drive improvements in their workers’ compensation programs, including preventing injuries and encouraging employee wellness, according to a panel of experts who spoke during a recent Marsh workers’ compensation webcast.
Predictive Risk Assessments
Panelists discussed how data and analytics can be employed in ergonomics. Predictive risk assessments can provide a forward-looking view of potential injuries based on the presence of known workplace risks. For example, the degree or amount that a joint is stressed during daily job tasks.
“Through a detailed analysis of data, this assessment can look at the presence of these and other risk factors in a workplace and deliver a score or rating that can tell you if your employees have a low, moderate, or high risk of injury going forward,” said Joyce Long, Workforce Strategies Practice leader in Marsh Risk Consulting. “And having that view gives employers the information they need to take corrective action.”
Panelists also explored how wearable technology can help keep employees safe and healthy. Wearable devices such as sensors in clothing and equipment can track and record employee movements in the workplace. Supervisors can warn employees when they are in physical danger, and use motion capture technology to identify poor work habits, such as improper bending and lifting.
“We think there’s a big future in wearables,” said Adam Bellin, director of business development at Human Condition Safety. “Most safety-related data going forward will be real-time and mobile, provisioned through wearable sensors. And for the most progressive companies, we predict that real-time, onsite data will be critical to success.”
Wearables are also becoming more integral to employee wellness programs. Fitness wrist bands, for example, can help companies record how many steps employees take each day, along with their nutritional and sleep habits; with this data, employers can offer incentives to employees that reach certain goals, or promote fitness and health through employee competition.
Last, panelists discussed the role of data in the underwriting process. Providing more accurate and complete data about workforce characteristics and loss prevention efforts can help employers secure more favorable insurance rates and other terms and conditions. But employers should look at the issue more holistically.
“Yes, you can save money on your workers’ compensation premiums through data, but it isn’t just about making underwriters happy,” said David Heppen, a managing director in Marsh Global Analytics. “There’s a lot that you can do to help improve the health and fitness of your workforce. And if you take that approach, the numbers — from an insurance standpoint — should follow.”