Mark Walls (Vice President – Communications & Strategic Analysis, Safety National) and Kimberly George (Senior Vice President – Corporate Development/M&A/Healthcare, Sedgwick) were joined by the following panel of public risk managers at the 2019 PRIMA Annual Conference to discuss trending topics and challenges in industry workers’ compensation.
- Jonathan Hall (Executive Director, Garden State Municipal Joint Insurance Fund)
- Anne-Marie Sharpe (Director – Risk Management, City of Miami)
- Dawn Watkins (Director – Integrated Disability Management, Los Angeles Unified Public School District)
Anne-Marie shared that in her organization, employment physicals can be critical to manage presumption related cases.
Jonathan talked through his experience in New Jersey where they encourage all members to conduct pre-employment physicals as well in mitigating presumption claims.
Dawn shared that her research of California state statutes and related codes revealed limitation of presumptions of her school resource officers but there are circumstances where governing boards can extend presumption beyond defined classifications.
Data is harder to find for public entity presumption cases so the financial impact can be difficult to forecast, but educating members on presumption law on your individual state is the best way to learn to navigate through these claims. The trend is that there is a cultural resistance to deny these claims, states are expanding these laws, and the impact could double workers’ compensation costs.
Employers are thinking more about well care versus sick care. Crisis teams are engaged in a more routine fashion of the daily toll of high frequency severity roles (working with special needs individuals, trauma nurses, domestic intervention). Public entities have an opportunity to better consider community resources and adding mental health review for injured workers. There are many economical resources and applications that can be incorporated in workers’ compensation programs to help employees work through mental, behavioral, and resiliency challenges.
Dawn shared that LA Unified schools have mental health professionals working with injured workers and she is a strong advocate of getting away from the stigma participating in mental health services.
Anne-Marie engaged onsite EAP services, but found that there was resistance in using because of the visibility so they have switched to a teleheath program hoping to encourage higher acceptance and use of the services.
Jonathan explained how their program added EAP services into their general member premiums to help encourage all members to participate in these services. They also encourage peer to peer counseling programs as well with success.
Return to Work
Dawn is getting employees back to work by treating each case as uniquely as possible and changing the perception of what disabled people are capable of. Working with labor partners to encourage return to work. Engage the employees with regular conversations not focused on “when are you coming back?”, but “how can we help you come back to work?”.
Jonathan shared that though the goals and expectation is return to work, his membership does struggle with accommodating permanent restrictions but have been successful in using accidental disability programs.
Ann-Marie leads a program where everyone focuses not on what employee can NOT be done, but what CAN they do. If their current department can’t or are resistant to accommodate restrictions, the expectation is the employee is reassigned with no payroll changes to another department (with union class considerations).
The establishment of an all-inclusive light duty position and communication with medical professional of accommodating any restriction within that all-inclusive position can go a long way to return to work success and claim cost reduction.