A workers’ compensation consultant interviews business executives, lawyers, and others to show employers how to boost worker safety and the bottom line.
Friedlander (How to $ave Big on Workers’ Compensation, 2011), a workers’ comp expert who runs a consulting business in Purchase, New York, interviews corporate and insurance executives as well as attorneys and consultants about safety on the job and about the workers’ compensation system in general. He presents seven interviews in question-and-answer format with brief biographies of their interviewees. Paul O’Neill, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary and former CEO of Alcoa, whom Friedlander credits with vastly improving worker safety there, says that such protection from danger should be paramount in any business. Bill O’Rourke, another former Alcoa executive, describes how he improved conditions at a giant plant he headed in Russia. Stephen Newell, a consultant, discusses the difficulty of measuring and even defining job safety and says that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have “the faintest idea about the accuracy or inaccuracy of the OSHA data.” Although many companies view worker safety measures as costly overhead, Newell says, they should instead regard them not only as the right thing to do, but as a way to cut losses from workers’ comp claims and increase profits. In fact, one lawyer points out, workers’ compensation originated as a way to save companies money, because it protected them from costly lawsuits by injured workers. Interviewees discuss fraud by employees who fake injuries to collect payments and the problem of companies that underreport injuries or just pay “lip service” to safety. This book will be most useful to corporate executives and business owners, as it looks at workers’ compensation mainly from their perspectives. This isn’t a primer for those new to the field; for example, it doesn’t explain such concepts as nurse triage and self-insurance. Although Friedlander asks thoughtful questions, he sometimes could have probed further; for instance, he could have asked one interviewee, Jeffrey R. Fenster of AmTrust Financial Services, to explain the “pretty significant technology” that he predicts will change workers’ comp in New York state. This brief book necessarily covers only generalities given the broad range of injuries possible in different fields. Still, Friedlander’s overall thesis is sound: “The solution is for leaders to put people’s safety first.”
A book that will be useful for employers who are truly interested in improving worker productivity and company profits.