Original Date: 09/15/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Tooele Initiative Program
Prior to 1995, Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) was a heavy manufacturing facility where industrial injuries were common and often resulted in workers’ compensation awards. Downsizing in 1995 from 3,000 to 500 employees resulted in increased workers’ compensation claims. No program was in place to reduce the increasingly high cost of workers’ compensation. Injured employees were not offered long-term light duty or alternative jobs if they were no longer able to work in their current positions. TEAD had 65 long-term claimants who had been off work and were drawing full benefits for 10 to 15 years at a cost to TEAD of $3.3 million per year, adversely affecting labor rates. This was the highest number of long-term claimants in the Industrial Operations Command (IOC). More than 300 claimants were drawing benefits or had claims in process. IOC established a goal of zero long-term claimants and added the incentive of providing one work year for each claimant returned to work.
The Tooele Initiative Program (TIP) was established and designed to quickly and fairly re-employ disabled and injured workers from the long-term workers’ compensation rolls. A Compensation Task Team was formed to accomplish this goal. The team included the Depot Commander, directors and supervisors, a compensation specialist, a DOD liaison officer, a physician, a rehabilitation counselor, a compensation investigator, and safety specialists. The team meets regularly and uses an on-site rehabilitation specialist to design light duty jobs. The jobs are specified in functional terms to facilitate review by physicians. Techniques and methods established by the Compensation Team include supervisor training, use of special equipment for impaired workers such as chairs and tools, flex hours to assist claimants returning to work, video tapes of the work area for reviewing physicians, and counseling for claimants.
Each position is custom designed to the physical requirements of the claimant and carefully specified in functional terms for review by the attending physician, the claimants, their supervisors, and claims examiners. Once approved by the claimant’s physician and the claims examiner, a formal job offer is made to the injured worker. If the position is not approved, actions such as referral for a second medical opinion, a functional capacity exam, or modification of the position and job offer can be taken. If an injured worker accepts a job offer, the injury compensation specialist and the worker’s supervisor make arrangements to transition the worker back to work. Workers who refuse job offers or elect retirement are eliminated from the compensation rolls. Alternate plans are used by TIP to help with difficult claimants or physicians who are uncooperative.
Figure 2-4 shows the results achieved by the program to date. Long-term claimants have been reduced from 65 to 18 which has produced annual compensation savings of more than $600 thousand. Lifetime compensation savings to date are estimated at more than $17 million. The program is fair, effective, and helps keep TEAD’s labor rates competitive.
Figure 2-4. Tooele Initiative Program Results
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