This session at WCI’s 2018 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference highlighted program strategies from the three winners of National Underwriter’s 2018 Excellence in Workers’ Compensation Risk Management Award.
Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD)
Tawana Kennedy, Workers’ Compensation Manager
Dallas ISD’s workers compensation claims in 2003 totaled $11.5 million. They changed their approach, resulting in claims expenses totaling under $1.5 million in 2017. Their approach to risk management became, “What can we do for you?” Their ultimate goal was to find ways for the teachers to stay safe and well so they could be at school every day for the students. Dallas ISD started by partnering with their vendors to improve risk control efforts. They created safety coordinators with a goal of inspecting areas to look for anything that might be unsafe in the environment. They also employed a telephonic nurse case manager to help the employees through every step of the workers’ comp process. They reevaluated their doctors, having them submit applications to choose the best specialists. They also worked to find providers that were conveniently located for their employees. They have a return-to-work goal of getting employees back in under 30 days. Overall, Dallas ISD found that excellent customer service will win the employee over at all times. Communication is key. If you are kind to the employees up front and show concern, claims length and costs will decrease.
Cosentino’s Food Stores
Aaron J. Greer, Director of Human Resources
From stocking shelves, to slicing meet at the deli, to pulling bread out of the oven, the workers’ comp risks at a grocery store are many. Cosentino’s stopped using a cost-based model and began putting people first in their workers’ compensation program. They polled employees and found that advocacy was the most desired aspect, so they started there. They implemented a 24/7 call line and hired an on-site nurse to help employees through every step of the process. They were able to decrease early litigation claims by having someone to give their injured workers immediate medical advice when the injury occurs. By changing their approach to becoming the injured worker’s partner in workers’ compensation, they were able to achieve a 49% reduction on program costs. They found that constant communication made the most significant difference in claims results. In addition, they created better partnerships with their medical providers. They focused on drafting the most-detailed job analysis for each job, then forward those descriptions to their providers so that they fulling understand the employees’ functions, injury potential and to make sure they have the right people in those positions. For return to work, they put a lot of resources into creating a program to get employees back quickly with light-duty jobs. Educating their supervisors on the benefits of this program was also key.
Bill Wainscott, Manager of Occupational Care and Recovery
Machinery and chemicals are just a few risks that International Paper’s employees face in their workplace. In evaluating their workers’ compensation program, they realized that they had never had a year without a worker fatality. They decided that they had to do everything in their power so that employees would not lose their life on the job. They helped spread the message of safety by having their employees realize the reasons that they work, which is to provide for their family and to have a better life. They shifted their focus to just that – life. They started by increasing communications, detailing steps for the injured worker and simplifying the complicated workers’ compensation process. The company found that words matter and instead of “claims examiners”, they created “care and recovery specialists” to assist their injured workers. They hired an employee advocate to begin talking employees through every step of their claim. International Paper also created safety leadership training for supervisors and instituted a ‘stand down’ where an employee is empowered to stop any process that they feel is unsafe. Part of their return-to-work message is that employees should come to work to heal, not heal to come back to work. They drive a message that they want employees back to work as soon as possible, helping them understand their restrictions and providing a behavior specialist to help get over their fear of returning to their site where they got injured. This has helped employees’ comfort levels significantly.