“What are workers compensation rates and where do they actually come from?” is a question we often hear when assisting start-up breweries. Even established brewery owners and managers ask this question. Let’s face it, your job is to make fantastic beer not to understand the nuances of insurance.
Breweries may not know or remember how these costs can be managed or perhaps even decreased to improve profitability. Here are four important steps you can take to lower your workers compensation premiums.
1. Safety is crucial.
Having a brewery safety plan or employee safety training manual is important. Keeping your employees safe and minimizing injuries leads to cost savings over time. Breweries with past employee injuries and claims end up paying higher premiums in subsequent years. There are plenty of resources available to you to make this simple. While OSHA is always a good stop, as are fellow breweries, here is a favorite: www.brewersassociation.org/category/safety/
2. Have a return to work program.
No employee should be forced to come back to work prematurely after an injury, but if your brewery has a formal method for having injured workers get the treatment they need to get better, the sooner they can get back on the job. The sooner your employee returns to work the smaller their workers comp claim ends up. We support employees receiving the medical attention and recovery time they need. But a return to work program for your brewery will help you help your employee return in a safe and timely manner.
3. Check what class codes your employees are working under.
If you have employees that do multiple jobs—such as an assistant brewer that also tends bar (I’m guessing you might!), you may be eligible for Labor Distribution, which allows the multi-tasking employee to have their hours at each specific job to be properly attributed. This is essential because a brewer’s workers comp rate is typically triple that of a bartender. You may be overpaying premium based on a small oversight.
4. Ask for pricing help!
If you have been in business for a few years and have little or no losses on your workers’ compensation policy, ask your agent to see what he/she can do to get you a better deal.
Most importantly, we encourage you and your staff to remember the all for one, one for all supportive and typically collaborative nature of the brewing industry. Safer breweries mean fewer work comp claims. Fewer claims means lower rates… for everyone.