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Employer sees workers comp costs fall after vetting applicants

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Frank Russo, senior vice president of risk and legal affairs and privacy officer for Irvine, California-based elder care firm Silverado, is always on the lookout for creative ways to mitigate risk.

So he was intrigued when he read the “staggering” results featured in a university study about integrity testing.

He began exploring how the concept could be applied to prevent injuries within his company’s 4,500-strong workforce.

More than 15,000 potential employees have been tested since the program was implemented 3½ years ago, with 24% deemed “not qualified.”

These types of results are often “a tough pill to swallow” for employers considering integrity testing because they are reluctant to narrow the potential employee pool and add another layer to the hiring process, Mr. Russo said.

One of Silverado’s biggest initial challenges, he said, was that some potential employees with “great” resumes and referrals did not pass the integrity test and were not hired. This led to accusations by some company managers that the test was wrong and required about six months of education about how the testing works and its benefits.

“I always tell people if I’m hiring for somebody in my department and they came referred to me and they have the best resume and I really like them and they don’t pass the integrity test, I’m completely grateful for the integrity test because obviously the integrity test caught something I didn’t,” he said.

Silverado had the University of Arizona run an independent survey that showed non-test takers hired in the two years prior to implementing integrity testing filed workers compensation claims at a higher rate and had more expensive claims than those screened in the two years after the testing began. “Those are pretty strong numbers,” Mr. Russo said.