EXCELLENCE IN WORKERS’ COMP RISK MANAGEMENT roundtable
attention and it works. i get little things
written back from the Cfo—what about
this, what about that? they like seeing the
information and what’s going on.
have very different cultures from one department to another. We also have very effective
return-to-work programs, [but] in certain
departments it’s much more challenging.
our police department has plenty of places to put someone with limitations on a temporary basis. Some of those places employees
don’t like being in. it really speeds up recovery when you put them at a desk answering
complaints. Police officers heal a lot quicker.
the same thing is true at the fire department.
EASTES: it’s a lot of communication,
education and time. Many of you, i’m sure,
have experienced changes in your Ceos or
changes in the people at the top, and you
have to go through that. everything can
change on you overnight, but in local government, [change at the
top] is mandatory.
We’re about to have
a new mayor come in; i
don’t even know who it
is. i can look at the can-
didates and know that
with some of them, i’m
in trouble. With others,
maybe i’ve got a chance
of keeping [safety and workers’ comp is-
sues] top [of mind].
it will take some time to educate them
that injuries and workers’ comp are a part
of productivity. but it’s also educating
them to the human side. i had an em-
ployee seriously injured, just being moved
from one level of care to the next. When i
was going out to visit him one day, i asked
the deputy mayor to go with me.
he went with me and saw the person in
the bed with all of these things hooked up
to him—he had a pretty significant brain injury, unfortunately. Seeing that made a difference. three and four years later, i still see
the difference in [the deputy mayor] when
he talks about workers’ comp and safety.
going to come back to work.
Modified or transitional duty—we don’t
call it light duty—is a bridge toward gainful employment. i stress a time limit. light
duty is not permanent, so there will be a
start date and an end date.
MURPHY: Kennametal’s policy is that
we accommodate almost any restriction.
We communicate this to our providers and those communications include
examples of transi-tional-duty jobs. We
also have specialized instructions that
notify me if a facility
indicates they are not
going to accommodate
We really try to focus on ability and not
disability. Sometimes it takes a little bit of
creativity, but we can always get them back
We place a lot of data and education on our intranet
for our employees in management, to give them a snapshot
of what’s going on. Often they know about a claim that
happened 30 days ago, but they don’t know the end result
of claims that happened years ago.”
Bruce Jones, insurance director in charge of employee safety and workers’
compensation, Community Health Systems Professional Service Corp.
it’s more challenging in our public-works
department, where there are fewer light-duty
jobs. our vocation-rehab specialist is now getting more involved in helping to find places
where those employees can work, identifying
the correct jobs, because often the restrictions
from a doctor aren’t specific enough.
the vocation-rehab specialist can look
much more specifically at the jobs and
identify exactly what is and is not good
for that employee. it’s also an educational
process to get the managers to understand
that everything depends on return to work.
if you get people back on the job and
being active, they recover quicker, but it
would help the industry to have more statistics to back that up when we’re talking
to our managers.
E MCDONALD: What is the biggest issue
facing risk managers with regards to workers’ comp right now?
MURPHY: dealing with things that are
degenerative in nature. dealing with an aging
workforce and repetitive-motion injuries.
MURPHY: at Kennametal i meet with
the Cfo three or four times a year and try
to keep the information in that meeting
somewhat simple. one of the things i focus
on is total cost of risk.
at the facility level we send out a number
of reports on a monthly basis: workers’ comp
experience year to date and their lag-time report. We send out a report of anybody who is
off work, and also i send out detailed information on costs for any open claim they have.
EASTES: i agree with Mike: an aging
workforce and the growing chronic-disease
burden. as age goes up, the chronic-disease
burden is going up. that hurts.
and i stay nervous about the pressure on
the federal government to take over workers’
compensation. i don’t think it’s imminent or
that it’s coming right away, but it makes me
nervous that there are pressures out there that
every year keep [building] that the federal
government should take over workers’ comp.
the only argument to do that is that states
aren’t paying enough in benefits, and we
need to increase at the federal level the benefits being paid out of workers’ comp.
E MCDONALD: What is your approach
for return-to-work initiatives?
JONES: being the type of business we’re in,
we’ve been in acquisition mode for years. So
when we buy a hospital i’ll talk to them on
the front end. it’s always interesting to hear
other people who think they have a good
one time they said “yeah, we’ve got a
good light-duty program. take so-and-so, for
instance, they’ve been on light duty for nine
years.” i said oh, my gosh!
i think i read a statistic that there’s only
a 2-percent chance of someone returning
back to their job if they’ve been out of work
six months or longer. i read that the longer
they are off work, the less likely they are
JONES: My opinion is that Medicare sets
out arrangements that we’re doing more
and more now—and will be doing more
of later. We’re probably going to be hit
up as a country, and some actuarial data
shows these costs are rising. NU