Workers Comp – Double Whammy Alert

Recently a broker told me how he got a big, new account: at renewal, a large contractor “woke up” to his huge loss experience in workers’ compensation. His experience mod and his premium skyrocketed. He thought his previous broker hadn’t provided adequate service, and he switched. The new broker was delighted to have the new business.

What went unsaid in that conversation was “Can the new broker fix the problem, or is it already too late?” Unfortunately the answer was “too late.”

The ex-mod was well over 1.00, the contractor was now eliminated from the best RFPs and jobsites, and it would take at least three years to get this back under control. This was going to cost big bucks in extra premiums and lost revenue.

The sad part in the story is that the contractor had to wake up.

RiskSmart clients are reminded to be proactive and on their toes at all times. They win because they know the ex-mod issue is more important to them than to anyone else.

Three issues need your attention

  1. Understanding the complexity of workers comp can be rough.
  • Severe losses happen regularly, and they can cost a boatload
  • A high ex-mod (1.25+) can eliminate you from jobsites
  • Back to work options need to be planned in advance
  • A fatality or amputation can bring OSHA inspections, fines, penalties, and even shutdowns
  1. Recordkeeping is key to mitigating your liability after a loss.
  • You need to document everything:
    • Regular toolbox or tailgate training sessions, tool and equipment certifications, and re-certifications
    • All injuries and near-miss stories for prevention lessons
    • Safety committee minutes and inspections
  • Annual postings of injury experience are also required
  1. First Aid can also provide important mitigation.
  • Train workers in First Aid, CPR and consider AED (portable defibrillator) training.
  • Keep First Aid kits updated at all locations and job sites.
  • Make sure all workers have contact information for the clinics closest to their worksite.

Careful and consistent attention to the details will make workers comp more simple, and can help avoid nasty surprises.


  • More details about safety training and recordkeeping – RiskSmart Tip # 89 here.
  • OSHA ( is chock full of information: training, first aid definition, regulations, alerts, newsletters, recordkeeping (, and FAQs.
  • OSHA consultation services are free and offer confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses – completely separate from enforcement.
  • If you voluntarily go to OSHA’s consultation side for help, you may be protected as long as certain criteria are met. That criteria is
  • Some insurance brokers and insurers offer inspection and prevention services.
  • Independent consultants often have expertise to lead and implement projects.

Do you need a sample IIPP or help navigating the OSHA website or consultation services? Do you have questions or more complex circumstances? Don’t hesitate to click reply or give me a call – | 510-685-3883.

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  1. Charles Wilson April 18, 2018 at 1:35 am - Reply

    I’ve just learned from reader friends and colleagues that California has changed its rules for First Aid claims.

    Employers and insurers must now report all costs for any medical care, including first aid treatment, and without regard for who makes the payments.

    These costs will now be included in employers’ experience modification calculations and are expected to allow the WCIRB to come up with more accurate rates.

    I’ve modified the post above and apologize for the inaccuracy. I am pleased to thank to our sharp-eyed readers for helping out!

  2. Charles Wilson April 6, 2018 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    My friend and former colleague, Corri DiBagno, has a wealth of real-life stories to share. Here’s one he just emailed.

    “A very informative RiskSmart Tip.

    “Indeed, WC can be a most complex and difficult class to mitigate when the ex-mod is “out of control”!

    “When I was with CHUBB, we had a large metal working/punch press operation……over 1000 employees on the factory floor. Of course, CHUBB would institute WC risk control meetings constantly. to bring the supervisors up to speed on “best practices” for loss prevention, etc. This type of operation always had “cuts, bruises, burns (metal)” as a typical loss-exposure for their workers. Every possible approach to risk management. was taken……that said, a worker brushed against a hot metal surface and was burned. The plant foreman noted the injury and directed the injured worker to the medical station for treatment … here a simple cleaning, with compression, ointment & gauze would have done the trick, then send the guy home for some R&R. Instead, the medical person on duty told the employee to wash it & place a band-aide on the burn … he could return to duty. Well you guessed it, the guy returns to his station, begins to sweat (hot job) and his burn ultimately becomes infected … a staff infection ensues. Well the poor guy ends up with an arm amputation!! Talk about a self induced wrecked ex-mod!! OSHA was crawling all over the place and this led to a work shut down. Finally the owner of the business was forced to sell because of OSHA compliance issues & lost time and lost customers!! What a shame!! Just clean it, put ointment on it & send the guy home to rest!!

    WC a tough issue that never seems to improve?!?

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