Binders Don’t Make Employees Safe

I am all for employee safety, but paperwork in a binder doesn’t cushion any accident.  This story may be an example about how worker’s comp is broken.  I am not an expert on worker’s comp nor do I want to spend lots of time figuring it out, but it sure seems like there are lots of inefficiencies and some things don’t connect.Binders Do Not Improve Employee Safety

Here are some facts from an organization I know.  The company pays its worker’s comp insurance company nearly $50,000 per year.  For the last five years, the company has had zero claims.  For the five years before that, I think, there were two claims and the worst one was a sprained wrist.  Each year the insurance service sends an auditor to inspect payroll records; this auditor costs the company’s accounting department many hours while debating in which category each employee should be classified.  Over 10 years that is nearly $500,000 to cover a sprained wrist plus untold hours of bureaucratic talking.  Meanwhile, there continues to be nothing dangerous in this work environment.

Recent Visit from the Insurance Company About Employee Safety

Earlier this year, this company had another visit from the insurance company representative (the insurance company is Republic Indemnity) with demands on what needs to be done in addition to the privilege of paying them $50,000 per year.  Here are quotes from an internal memo after the visit describing the demands of the inspector.  (Anything that has a remote chance of helping an employee or customer in an emergency, this company would do in a heartbeat; yet I think maintaining a “binder” at each location will have zero impact on safety?)  Keep in mind that the most hazardous material at these locations is hot coffee.

We have a bit of work to do to be compliant with the suggestions for an acceptable safety program.

We need a Safety Binder AT EACH LOCATION with 6 tabs to include the following:

  1. Injury and Illness Prevention
    • Program Responsibility
    • Compliance Communication
    • Hazard Assessment
    • Accident/exposure Investigation
    • Hazard Correction
    • Training and Instruction
    • Record Keeping
  2. Emergency Preparedness Plan
    • Alarm System
    • Evacuation Plan
    • Emergency Lighting
    • Employee Training
  3. Hazardous Material Communication Program
    • Inventory of Hazardous Chemicals
    • Plans and Procedures for operations involving their use
    • Material Safety Data Sheets
    • Training – How to Read MSDS, How to use chemical, first aid
    • Records of the above items
  4. Record Keeping of at least annual safety inspection of site
    • 1x per year or more do a safety inspection and record it was done
  5. Record keeping of Safety Training for staff
    • Any time any safety training occurs in any department staff meeting, record it here
  6. Accident Investigation
    • Having Forms readily available for easy documenting any investigation after a report of an incidence


  • We need to keep above records for 5 years on site
  • We need to have an avenue for employees to submit safety suggestions without retaliation.
  • The front of the Safety Binder needs to include a list of hierarchy of managers, their names and titles.

Employee safety is important and setting up a fund to help workers who are hurt is obviously a good idea.  It is just frustrating when a good idea is taken so far and ends up creating costs and nonsense that are not helping anyone.