Original Date: 07/10/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Workers’ Compensation Program
Tobyhanna Army Depot has implemented a case management process to control workers’ compensation costs that were excessive prior to 1989. The assignment of a full-time administrator to manage the program combined with increased workforce awareness of health and safety has resulted in savings of more than $10 million and a significant decline in injury claims.
The Workers’ Compensation Program at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) was perceived by management to be “out of control” prior to 1989. For a small minority of the TYAD workforce, the compensation program was a 45-day, fully paid vacation that required only a physician’s statement to remain off work. The number of claims prior to 1989 and the associated cost of workers’ compensation claims were becoming a burden to the organization, with the number of claims equaling approximately 10% of the workforce. Active claims (new claims plus any claims still being tracked and paid) totaled more than 200 per year.
TYAD began by taking a proactive approach to managing the Workers’ Compensation Program – educating supervisors, educating the workforce, and hiring a full-time administrator to focus on the problem and get results. All incidents are now given a high priority with a structured and documented approach and focused case management. The administrator works closely with the supervisors to ensure they understand the need to get employees back on the workforce. The administrator also works closely with employees to see that they are getting their maximum benefit entitlement, ensuring that employees reenter the workforce, and disciplining those that violate the program. All new employees are educated on the cost impact of the Workers’ Compensation Program and the important role they play in minimizing the cost of the program to TYAD.
Policy changes have also been instituted. Depot policy states that any temporary restriction, however limiting, will be accommodated and the employee’s home department is required to accommodate its employee as necessary. If the home department cannot accommodate an employee, an appropriate position will be found at the depot. When permanent restrictions prevent an employee from returning to his or her original status, another position will be found at TYAD to accommodate the employee unable to return to his or her work status prior to injury.
The Workers’ Compensation process now involves processing all claims through the administrator, with program benefits and responsibilities explained to the employee who must commit to return to light duty. The administrator mails the treating physician a letter that explains TYAD’s willingness to accommodate any requisite medical restrictions. The administrator contacts employees at home as needed, and independent medical exams can also be performed if required. All available Department of Defense incentive programs are used to facilitate an employee’s return to work.
The number of claim counts at TYAD has been reduced from over 300 in 1982 to nearly 50 in 2006. The Workers’ Compensation Program has netted a savings in excess of $10 million while the cost of an average claim continues to decrease. Every employee with a work-related injury has been successfully returned to work since 2000.
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