Brand Story- SAIF exec outlines action items when the unexpected occurs.
They happen all the time. Cuts, concussions, catastrophes around the workplace. Rickety stairs, a stack of boxes, and boom!
So what’s an employer’s next move?
“They don’t want to be thinking about workers’ comp, but unfortunately, if a workplace injury happens, you need to do that,” says Brigitte Hamilton, vice president of claims for SAIF, a not-for-profit state-chartered business that’s been taking care of injured workers and helping people get back to work since 1914.
“We realize (employers) don’t think about workers’ compensation all day, but we do!”
An employer should act quickly when there’s an incident, according to Hamilton, a 22-year SAIF employee. That way, SAIF can make a decision and determine appropriate benefits, reducing uncertainty for both the worker and the employer.
“The benefit is for the injured worker, so we can begin providing benefits to them, paying for medical care, diagnostics, treatment and — if they are missing work — to help cover lost wages,” Hamilton explains.
“We don’t want injured workers to be burdened with worrying about covering those costs on top of their injury and the resulting impact on their lives. We want to provide appropriate benefits to injured workers as soon as possible,” she adds.
SAIF partners with a host of different managed care organizations that can provide support during what is often a very chaotic and confusing time for everyone involved.
From a policy perspective, Hamilton considers the most important action an employer can take when an injury occurs is to fast-track a claim with SAIF using an 801 form, which can be found on the saif.com homepage.
“Every employer should know how to file a claim,” Hamilton advises. “Get some information into that form and submit it to SAIF.”
After making sure the worker has secured appropriate treatment, SAIF’s focus shifts to returning the employee to work, Hamilton says.
“If they are injured and unable to do their regular job, we have return-to-work consultants who will work with the policyholder and the injured worker.”
Hamilton illustrates an employer’s predicament with a hypothetical scenario involving a roofer falling off the roof and not being able to handle regular roofing responsibilities. SAIF consultants can help the policyholder identify different jobs in the company that don’t require the same physical capabilities.
“If they can’t do the physical part of the job, they can still contribute, and that’s another reason why we want to engage as quickly as possible in the case of a workplace injury.”
In the case of the injured roofer, these duties could include preparing service estimates or phone support.
“This helps the worker, because they’re contributing, and it helps the employer from a cost perspective, for getting them off time-loss benefits,” Hamilton adds.
And the work gets done.
SAIF can also help employers access state-run programs that can further reduce the costs of injury for the employer, including one called the Employer-at-Injury Program.
“What that does, is if an injured worker can’t go back to their regular duties, and they need a modified work role, SAIF will help the policyholder and the worker to find that work and also help them access the program so the policyholder can get reimbursement for wages, 50 percent for up to 66 days.
“An employer isn’t always going to know about programs like that,” Hamilton admits. “SAIF can step in and make sure our workers and policyholders are both set up as best they can be.”
Another compelling reason for partnering with SAIF, Hamilton says, is the reach of its service area. With six offices around the state, SAIF staffers understand the regional differences that exist in Oregon, and their associated industries, because they live and work in those same communities.
“We understand the state and different regions, and the work that happens there,” Hamilton says. “Agriculture, commercial delivery, building, urban and rural.”
SAIF isn’t just focused on helping workers after an injury; they also want to prevent other injuries from happening in the first place. Creating a safe workplace benefits everybody, Hamilton says. Working with her company’s many safety experts can help a busy employer reach that benchmark.
“Our vision is to be the safest and healthiest state in the country to work in,” she says. “We know we’re not going to get to zero accidents across the state. But when we say ‘best outcome’ we mean the best for everyone involved.”
Finally, SAIF is a not-for-profit organization, and that removes many of the financial considerations that are inherent with private insurance groups.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” Hamilton summarizes. “Building long-term relationships with businesses and workers is what we’re chartered by the state to do. Private carriers have stakeholders and multiple lines of insurance and are striving for the most profit.”
“Workers’ compensation is all we do. It’s not one line of insurance, it’s our complete focus.”
Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues. The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.