And even more significant is that what goes on in the workplace has a direct effect on Workers’ Compensation premiums paid by employers. How?
Mistreatment of employees by other employees and management personnel results in more sick days and days off, more workers’ compensation claims and more disability claims according to OSHA the organization charged with researching such trends.
OSHA is the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and according to the data collected for 2010, bullying accounted for 5% of absenteeism. The effect is that more and more employees will be making claims under Workers’ Compensation since that is their only recourse for “injuries” suffered in the workplace. This will invariably drive up the cost of already escalating Workers’ Compensation premiums.
So what can you, as an employer do, to lessen your exposure to risk from bullying?
1. Be aware of employees/managers who insult others;
2. Watch for employees or managers who intimidate others;
3. Be aware of gossiping as it can cause anxiety, stress , depression and even give rise to post traumatic stress disorder in severe cases;
4. Be aware of the effect on your entire team as reports indicate that just watching another employee being mistreated causes much stress and anxiety
5. Educate and train your staff to make them aware of just what constitutes a case of bullying.
An aspect of loss control is identifying industries more prone to bullying, such as social and protective services and healthcare support occupations. It has also been shown that women are more likely to file Workers’ Compensation claims than men when allegations of bullying are concerned. Conversely, architectural, engineering, physical and social science workers, as well as business and financial industries report much lower incidences in claims relating to bullying.
Whatever the industry, unless bullying in the workplace is addressed and strategies are developed to contain this hazard, we can be sure that carriers will soon be on the look-out for claims of this nature and be very discriminating in the policies they are willing to write.
By Karen Skoler, CPCU