Work First Pro Tips #7: The Impact of Language Skills in the Cost of a Claim

Imagine that you have a hard working, enthusiastic employee who is working and acting within the scope of his assigned job. That’s what should happen, right?  Well, that’s exactly what happened in this Pro Tip story.

The difference is that when the employee received an injury to his left hand, he couldn’t be placed back to work. The trouble here wasn’t his ability or desire to work. Instead, it was his language barrier that prevented him from being accepted at another assignment.

True Story

The claimant in this case, is a 27-year-old male whose position was that of a forklift driver in a warehouse. He wasn’t doing anything he wasn’t supposed to. He was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He was working well within the scope of his job assignment.

The claimant was unloading a pallet of automobile rims from his forklift. As he was unloading the rims, a box fell on his left hand and crushed his finger.

He was taken to a nearby clinic for immediate examination. From there, he was referred to a physician who recommended surgery. The surgery went as planned with no issue.

The time soon came when he was released to return to work with light-duty restrictions. His restrictions prohibited him from driving a forklift or lifting boxes as his previous assignment required. This meant this employee now required a new assignment.

The problem was that a job couldn’t be found for this gentleman.  It wasn’t his education or skill set. It wasn’t his ability or willingness to work. Instead, it was simply a matter of a language barrier. The problem was that the staffing company had no other job orders where he could be placed because he did not speak English.  This meant that instead of the employee getting back to work and the claim getting closed, the insurance company had to continue paying benefits for a significant period of time until suitable employment had been secured.

Therein was the problem, and the total cost of the claim could have been a whole lot less had the following Pro Tip been adhered to.

Pro Tip

The tip here is to make sure that you have more than one option where you can place a temporary employee. If he can’t go back to the original client, make sure you have other clients who are willing to take people who might not speak English or have other barriers to employment.

It is crucial to think beyond “normal,” full-capacity placements, but also include possible light duty arrangements. It is imperative to ensure there is always a “Plan B” in place that can accommodate and overcome common hiring barriers such as a language, a particular skill set, or even a criminal background.

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Work First Casualty Company is proud to announce that we’ve expanded our borders! We are prepared to begin serving in North Carolina with the same high-quality service that you come to expect from us on February 1, 2016. Discover what a Work First Casualty Company policy can do for you by contacting Bruce Winterrowd, Vice President of Underwriting and Marketing at (630) 416-7594 or by email at

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