How to lower Workers’ Compensation costs for Florida Contractors (Part 1)

Attention Florida Construction Contractors – here are 18 proven steps to get control of your workers’ compensation costs, meet compliance obligations and improve employee relations. (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Create a good hiring process – Avoid hiring a problem employee by developing a thorough and effective hiring process. Hire the best available talent by looking at skills, past work experience, reasons for leaving – but also a “can do” attitude.  Ask for examples of when they showed initiative and teamwork in the past.  For instance: How will your boss rate you when we call him? What kind of work don’t you like to do? What makes a safe workplace? How do you know you do a good job? What are you most proud of at work?  Also important is checking references for applicants – call previous employers and see what can be confirmed.  Lastly, call your local Florida Career Source Center, http://www.floridajobs.org/onestop/onestopdir/, and have the Business Services team pre-interview and qualify applicants for your company.   It’s a FREE resource.
  2. Use a written 90 day probationary period – Have each newly hired employee sign the following language, your company will not pay unemployment if the employee is terminated for unsatisfactory performance within the first 90 days.  Use the following language: “The employee’s first ninety (90) days of employment with the Company are considered an introductory period. This introductory period will be a time for getting to know fellow employees, managers and the tasks involved in the position, as well as becoming familiar with the Company’s products and services. The supervisor or manager will work closely with each employee to help them understand the needs and processes of their job.  This introductory period is a try-out time for the employee and the Company. During this introductory period, the Company will evaluate employees’ suitability for employment, and employees can evaluate the Company as well. At any time during this first ninety (90) days, employees may resign. If, during this period, employee work habits, attitude, attendance, performance or other relevant factors do not measure up to our standards, the Company may release employment.  Please understand that completion of the introductory period does not alter the at-will employment relationship.  If I am separated from the company during this period, the company may not be charged for unemployment benefits as this is an introductory period recognized under the Florida statutes. “ Florida Statutes  443.131(3)(a)(2)
  1. Use up-to-date New Hire forms – Contractors should use a multi-page Employment Application. It should ask for important information about past work, reasons for leaving jobs, ability to perform job duties, licenses, other skills, criminal convictions and reliable transportation.  Other required new hire forms include: new hire checklist, I9, W4 and the Florida Healthcare Exchange info.  To verify medical capability, a contractor may use a Post Offer Medical Questionnaire or pay for a physical examination for each new hire. A sample form is available to review at  http://www.consultstu.com/humanresourcestopics/samplehrforms.html    Pre-employment physicals can be performed by walk in clinics or occupational medical centers – to test for physical agility and back/lifting evaluation.  Just make sure you test all candidates for a position type, not just some candidates.
  2. Written Safety program – Contractors are eligible for a 2% reduction in workers’ compensation premiums for a written safety program. FL Stat 440.1025 describes the required safety program sections. Download the Employer Certification form at  http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/WC/pdf/safety_credit_app.pdf and submit to your workers compensation carrier.  A Safety Plan template can be created using the FREE resources from the University of South Florida, Safety Consultation Services.  To start, click the following link and create a safety program at https://www.safetyconsultationservices.com/Safetywriter/  or contact Consultstu.
  3. Get OSHA Safety programs – Use OSHA’s Compliance Assistance Quick Start to determine required safety programs https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/quickstarts/construction/index_construction.html The site has English & Spanish compliance assistance resources.  Typical written plans may include: First Aid, Hazard Communication, Lockout, Personal Protective Equipment, Fire Prevention, Electrical Safety, Confined Space and Respiratory Protection.  Put these policies in a binder and maintain at each jobsite or with each superintendent/foreman.  Refer to the programs during employee safety training.
  4. Document Employee Safety Training – A safe workplace culture includes documented employee safety training. Use a written safety training attendance sheet to document all safety training. Include the following language at the bottom of your form: “The above employees participated in the described safety training, had an opportunity to ask questions and are required to follow company’s safety rules and regulations, including the wearing of required safety equipment on the jobsite.”  Maintain the safety training in your safety binder.

Be watching future blog posts for next six steps for how Florida Construction Contractors can lower workers’ compensation costs.

Consultstu LLC provides affordable HR services to Florida Construction Contractors to achieve compliance, minimize workers’ compensation costs and improve employee satisfaction.  We help companies avoid expensive HR mistakes and improve employee relations. Have a question – call us at 727-350-0370, or email at [email protected].

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