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  • Controlling Workers' Compensation Costs
    By John M. Hodapp, Senior Vice President, Florists' Mutual Insurance Company

    The Retail Florist

    Workers' compensation is one of the few employment-related costs you can control.

    By learning the factors behind workers' compensation premiums and increasing workplace safety, you can identify ways to save money at your shop.

    Cost-Saving Strategies

    The type of work your employees do is the first important variable.

    Proper classification of employees will ensure that both you and the insurance company are treated fairly. Fortunately, classifications for floral industry employees are well defined. As a result, it is easy to work with your insurance agent to make sure your employees are classified properly.

    Your insurance agent can also help you sort out classification when an employee does more than one type of job. Take, for example, a shop that also does outdoor landscaping. A designer who occasionally helps with landscaping jobs must be classified at the higher landscaping rate for the entire year unless complete personnel and job records are maintained. In that case, the lower "florist" rate could apply except for those pay periods during which the employee actually did landscaping.

    Loss Control Issues

    The best strategy to reduce workers' compensation costs over the long term is to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries. A good safety and loss-control program will help your shop qualify for more favorable insurance rates and considerations.

    Insurance companies offer a variety of cost-saving plans to attract and compete for safety-conscious, quality employers. Conversely, employers with unsafe workplaces and poor safety records are less sought after by insurers and typically have much higher premium costs.

    Getting Started

    Treat your safety and loss-control plan much like you would a retirement savings plan — the sooner you get started, the better off you are going to be. Start by using services that may already be available to you. For example, Florists' Mutual Insurance Company provides an extensive array of loss-control services at no cost to customers, including:

    • Customized safety-training programs
    • A video loan library with instructional tapes on a variety of loss-control topics
    • Defensive driving training
    • Information on the safe use and storage of chemicals
    • Safety signs, posters and pamphlets (with many available in bilingual formats)
    • On-site visits from a loss-control professional
    • Access to expert assistance whenever you need it
    • Your insurance company may provide many of these services, too. Check with your insurance agent to see what is available to you.

    Additional Benefits

    When establishing programs to reduce workers' compensation costs, you may see other benefits as well.

    For example, in today's extremely competitive labor market, it's important to keep your top employees healthy and productive. A good safety program can also show job applicants that you care. You'll attract better candidates, reduce the frequency and seriousness of injuries, and keep your best workers on the job.


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