Gilbert, Ariz., improves safety through workers’ compensation program changes
Recently, Gilbert, Ariz., revised its workers’ compensation program to improve insight into claims, speed access to information and reduce injuries among its growing workforce. As a result, the town has reduced on-the-job injuries and insurance costs while gaining better control of the program.
In 2010, Gilbert officials determined that they needed more loss prevention tools and resources for employees and managers to control workers’ compensation costs. They also wanted access to real-time claims information, the ability to create reports, and more proactive claims service from an insurance carrier.
While Gilbert staff started to streamline processes to improve internal claims management, a multi-disciplinary team began evaluating alternative insurance carriers, and in 2010, the town selected Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers to help revamp the town’s workers’ compensation program. Efforts began to institute new technology to manage claims and share information among employees and managers.
Working with the new insurance provider, Gilbert reinvented its internal injury reporting system by developing a web portal based on Microsoft SharePoint software that would disseminate and collect information about on-the-job injuries/illnesses. Users could easily access information and forms, as well as report injuries/illnesses and significant exposure incidents. The new system reduces internal reporting delays, eliminates paper reports, and requires supervisor analysis and employee feedback for more effective root cause analysis.
Meanwhile, insurance consultants conducted industrial hygiene and law enforcement training programs for injury prevention. The insurance company also helped Gilbert staff formalize a “return to work” program, which emphasizes temporary modified work for injured workers in temporary jobs so they can remain engaged as they recuperate. “We get added help and a reduction in lost days due to injury,” says Helen Franse Hornlein, who administers workers’ compensation for Gilbert.
As a result of the changes, lost days due to injury declined by nearly 30 percent from 2010 to 2011. And, Gilbert’s E-Mod factor (a multiplier related to prior incurred losses that affects policy premiums) for 2012 is lower than it was in 2011. “The key is to get departments to own the responsibility for reducing losses,” Hornlein says.