Surveillance cameras can help companies prevent fraudulent workers’ compensation claims, but employers must ensure they follow appropriate internal surveillance guidelines.

CEC Entertainment Inc., which manages over 500 Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, has seen a reduction in workers’ compensation claims and liability costs since they installed security cameras in all their stores in 2009 and 2010.

Director of risk management Jeff Strege said the restaurant has reduced claims costs by $600,000 since the cameras were installed.  The surveillance cameras were part of a larger effort to reduce liability costs, but Strege said the cameras help prove what transpired when an incident occurs.

“We’ve made a number of claims literally vanish once we produce the video footage to show that what the claimant says, whether it’s an employee or a guest … didn’t really happen,” Strege said.

Not only do the surveillance cameras help prove liability, but they also prevent fraudulent claims before they occur because the employee knows they are being filmed.  Strege said employees are less likely to participate in a potentially harmful act if they know they are being recorded.

Thomas Martin, who runs Martin Investigations and Security Services, said many companies like
CEC Entertainment Inc. have consulted his firm in regards to surveillance camera installation.  He said security cameras are popular among larger business, but smaller businesses are also considering installing cameras.  Martin also said that companies need to ensure they are following all privacy and documentation laws associated with surveillance.

“Where your eyes are allowed to see, the cameras are allowed to see,” Martin said.

Cameras aren’t allowed in certain areas, like a restroom or shower facility, but companies can spend more time looking into claims that happen off camera because of their rarity.

“If you have pretty much 75 percent coverage, and they happen to fall and claim an injury in the other 25 percent, it becomes very suspicious that (the injury) wasn’t recorded,” Martin said.

Not only can cameras prevent workers’ compensation fraud, but they can also validate legitimate claims.  Companies can get a better understanding of how the injury happened, and take preventative steps to deter similar injuries.

Although the cameras might work against the company in some claims, they usually end up saving the company money.

“In the long run, especially if a company has a lot of employees, I think it would pay for itself,” Martin said.

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