Workers’ compensation coverage helps protect your seasonal staff

Added July 8, 2021

Seasonal workers can be an invaluable asset to your business. However, you also need to be aware of the additional risks you face when you employ them.

Let's review ways you can help keep your seasonal workers safe on the job and why offering these individuals workers' compensation coverage—if you're not already required to do so—can help protect them and your business.

How you can help your seasonal workers

More than 1.3 million workers' compensation claims in Ohio were examined in a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Results showed that temporary workers—particularly those who are younger and less experienced—have a higher overall injury rate than permanent workers.

In general, seasonal and temporary workers often work longer hours and are subject to fatigue that can lead to injuries or mistakes. It's important you train these workers properly. Make sure you have a proactive safety culture in place that includes education, supervision, and suitable time off. Conduct training sessions before seasonal workers start performing their assigned duties and continue to monitor and train these workers throughout their employment.

In addition, when hiring seasonal workers:

  • Conduct background checks: If available, these checks provide you with a work history and can help you identify potential red flags

  • Ask for referrals: Some of your best workers might come via recommendations from those who have previously worked with them in the industry

  • Post clear job descriptions: This helps potential candidates get an understanding of their work duties

  • Educate workers on your injury reporting policy: Emphasize the importance of reporting and communication

  • Allow only qualified, trained employees to operate equipment: This includes any type of machinery and vehicles they may operate at the workplace and jobsite

How workers' compensation coverage can help you

The average cost of a workers' compensation claim in 2017–2018 was $41,003, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). The average workers' compensation claim cost for slips and falls—a common risk in the horticultural and floral industries—was $47,516.

Workers' compensation coverage is an affordable insurance option that helps you pay for medical expenses and lost wages when a worker is injured or becomes ill in the scope of their employment. In some states, you're required to offer this coverage to your employees. In California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania, you can suffer severe penalties if you don't provide workers' compensation coverage.

Understand what's required for your business when it comes to workers' compensation. Talk with your insurance carrier and make sure you're properly covered.

A misconception among some business owners is that they're immune from workers' compensation claims for temporary employees if these workers are provided with a 1099 form. That's not accurate. There are nuances you need to understand, as Denise Grandame, an underwriting supervisor with Hortica, explains.

“Just because a temporary worker is paid with a 1099 doesn't make them an independent contractor,” Grandame said. “If they're taking direction from the business with regard to what to do, how to do it, and what time to do it, among other instructions, then they're considered an employee and would be covered under the business's workers' compensation policy.

“If one of these workers is injured, the business's workers' compensation policy would apply,” Grandame reiterated. “Payroll for these employees should be included in the workers' compensation audit. Each state handles this differently, so as an owner, you need to research how your state handles this.”

Grandame said one of the exceptions to this would be if the temporary worker has their own workers' compensation policy.

How workers' compensation coverage can help your seasonal workers

A work-related injury or illness can have a dramatic impact on your seasonal workers. Aside from the possible pain and suffering, this is their time to add income. Missing work could create financial burdens.

Workers' compensation coverage can help your seasonal workers if they're unable able to work by:

  • Paying out a portion of their lost income

  • Helping cover possible medical costs as a result of their injuries or illnesses.

Keep your insurance policy up to date

Any time you increase or decrease the number of your employees, it's important to review your insurance policy and make necessary adjustments.

You also want to ensure you have the proper coverages in place for the type of workers you employ. Keep your policy up to date to help you save money and stay compliant. If you have questions about your business insurance policy, contact us. We're ready to help you.

Related links:

You can help reduce your workplace risks by cleaning up your property, performing scheduled maintenance on your equipment, and regularly reviewing your safety procedures. Learn more tips here.

Check out the top risks for horticultural businesses like yours and learn about the insurance coverages that can help protect you.

Your business insurance policy should evolve as your operations and risks change. Use our insurance renewal checklist to help you analyze where your business has changed.

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