Workers’ compensation insurance (workers’ comp) is an integral part of running any business.  In fact, the state of New York requires all employers to have workers’ compensation coverage for all of their employees. Consider this a good thing. Workers’ comp protects you from lawsuits and damages incurred by employee’s work-related injuries and illnesses.

While having insurance protects you from the most immediate and obvious impacts of a workers’ comp claims, it fails to cover everything. You still need to change schedules, find and train replacement employees, and more. In other words, protection from insurance is not all-encompassing. Insurance is the bottom line, but it should not be your first line of defense. Attempting to avert workers’ comp claims should be your first priority.

How to Minimize the Number of Claims Filed

One way restaurants can reduce the number of workers’ comp claims filed is by implementing a safety program. Through safety programs, restaurants can identify workplace hazards so that they may be mitigated or removed to prevent accidents. For instance, you could debrief all employees on knife protocol. Anything from how and where they are stored to protocol for using them should be made clear. Safety programs are also a great way to show employees that you are committed to their safety and wellbeing.

How to Minimize the Cost of a Claim

If an accident does occur in the workplace, a great way to minimize the cost of a workers’ comp claim is through a return-to-work program. The longer a workers’ comp claim is open, the more money it is likely to cost restaurant owners. Return-to-work programs help alleviate this issue by creating a direct path for injured or ill employees to return to work as soon as possible.

One common method of return-to-work programs is “phasing in” employees who have been out on workers’ comp through modified work schedules. For example, some full-time employees may return to work part-time at first, working their way back up to a full-time schedule. Other employees may return to their regular hours performing lighter tasks until they are fully recovered. Return-to-work programs are a good way to balance the medical and physical needs of your employees with the business needs of yourself..

Despite the best preventative efforts, however, accidents can occur and leave ill or injured employees out for weeks. As previously stated, workers’ comp coverage is a restaurant’s best protection from lawsuits, damages, and other related costs. For restaurants in New York, this form of protection is a necessity. Preventative measures, claim cost minimization, and insurance are not mutually exclusive events. They are all critical components of running a business effectively.