Safety is a priority in any workplace, and strong safety standards help prevent accidents. Keeping workplace accidents at a minimum helps keep insurance costs down and makes for a more productive workplace.
WCA safety consultants provide a range of free safety services for the workplace, such as consultations and inspections. The WCA also publishes two booklets devoted to safety. The Annual Safety Inspections Guide helps businesses implement their own simple safety inspection, and outlines the minimum acceptable WCA standards for a safety inspection. Smaller employers that are not required to have inspections can use the How to Develop a Safety Program guide, which provides comprehensive safety program planning. Both guides can be found on the Publications page.
Businesses should have emergency preparations in place, and ensure employees know the locations of nearby emergency or urgent care facilities, and how to contact emergency services. This is especially important for businesses that have workers off-site or in changing locations.
If employers fail to provide a safety device required by law or commonly used in the industry, the injured worker's indemnity benefits can be increased by 10 percent. If an employer provides a safety device but the worker fails to use it, then indemnity benefits can be decreased by 10 percent.
Annual Safety Inspections
New Mexico workers' compensation law requires employers to perform or receive an annual safety inspection as the first step toward eliminating workplace hazards. Safety inspection requirements are comprised of two parts: the inspection itself, and proof of the inspection.
New Mexico workers' compensation law (§52-1-6.2 NMSA) requires all employers must have an annual safety inspection if:
- The workers' compensation insurance premium is $15,000 or more
- The business is a certified self-insured employer
- or the business pays $15,000 or more as a member of a certified self-insured group
Businesses are required to conduct an annual safety inspection within 60 days of issuance or renewal of a workers' compensation insurance policy. If the WCA does not receive proof of an annual inspection within the 60 days, a notification letter will be issued to the business, stating the safety inspection affidavit was not received. The business will have 30 days from date of letter to return the signed affidavit to the WCA.
Required inspections can be done by:
- A WCA safety consultant
- A senior manager or dedicated safety professional employed by the business
- A third party safety organization or safety professional
- A safety professional from the insurance company
Businesses that decide to self-inspect are encouraged to consult with the WCA so a safety consultant can help them create a checklist, explain the safety inspection process, and teach them what to look for when conducting inspections.
All other employers who do not fit the above criteria are encouraged to have an annual safety inspection and to develop their own safety program (see How to Develop a Safety Program).
See the WCA Rules.
Proof of Safety Inspections
Businesses required to conduct annual safety inspections must submit proof of the inspection to the WCA within 60 days of policy issuance or renewal. (22.214.171.124 NMAC, change from 30 to 60 days made during the fall 2016 WCA rule-making cycle). Generally, the inspection must be a complete inspection of all the employer's facilities in New Mexico. Proof of inspection can be made by completing the safety affidavit found on our publications page. Mail the signed affidavit to the applicable WCA safety officer via the nearest field office. Proof of inspection can also be made by having the insurer or self-insurer notify the WCA that the inspection is complete. Notification should include the business name, address, FEIN (federal employer identification number) and date of inspection.
Risk Reduction Program
The WCA is committed to helping employers identify and eliminate occupational hazards in order to prevent workplace accidents. Its Risk Reduction Program (RRP) assists employers with a higher than state average accident frequency for their industry, or if a safety audit indicates a need for assistance. The program helps employers identify and eliminate occupational hazards as well as in preventing accidents and reducing their associated costs. The WCA's Safety Program Manager identifies and enrolls companies into the program.
Once identified, employers and insurers are notified by letter, and a consultation with a WCA safety consultant takes place within 30 days. An inspection of the employer's facilities in New Mexico must be completed before the consultation. Participants will include the business owner/manager and an insurance representative, if desired. The business then develops an action plan to address the issues raised in the consultation. A follow-up review evaluates effectiveness of the plan.
Employers who receive a notice of classification as an extra hazardous employer have five working days to file a written request for reconsideration with the WCA Director.