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2017 Teddy Awards: Honorable Mention

A Lesson in Leadership

Shared responsibility, data analysis and a commitment to employees are the hallmarks of Benco Dental's workers' comp program.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 4 min read

When George Rable, Benco Dental’s vice president of culture and people, was interviewing for the position of HRIS, compensation and benefits manager in 2015, he knew that Benco needed someone with a depth and breadth of compensation benefits experience combined with a people-person temperament.

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In walked Brigid Peet and the rest, as they say, is history.

“People tend to be either a data cruncher or a people person, but Brigid brought both of those traits to the table,” Rable said. “And that was really job one for me. We needed someone who could take the leadership role in our total rewards program and run with it.”

Scroll forward a few years and Rable couldn’t be happier with what the department has accomplished under Peet’s direction.

“On the compensation side, she’s done an excellent job looking at more data to make sure our compensation program is competitive in the marketplace.” Enough, he said, to earn Benco Dental an honorable mention in the 2017 Teddy Awards.

Peet has an affinity for numbers and analysis, but she also loves working in human resources and helping people. The latter is the force that drives Benco Dental’s workers’ compensation program, said Rable.

Brigid Peet, HRIS, compensation and benefits manager, Benco Dental

Peet’s team puts that in action every day as they care for the “Benco family” of more than 1,300 employees, including 400 sales reps and 300 service technicians. What’s best for the employee always comes first.

Case in point, she cites the example of a highly-valued associate who was placed on extended light duty as she was nearing retirement. The employee suffered a second injury but still was keen to return to work.

“We wanted to make sure she wasn’t coming back [just] because there were X number of months before her retirement. We were able to bridge her medical insurance until she was eligible for Medicare so that she had time to consider if it was the right time to retire rather than come back to work on limited duty.”

Benco’s modified duty program has assisted in keeping approximately 50 percent of its lost-time claims to less than $25,000 per claim from 2012 to 2017. Only 4 percent of claims under $25,000 are open, said Peet.

Taking the Company’s Measure

Peet gives much of the credit for the program’s success to people like Deb Hammaker, Benco Dental’s national risk/safety/training specialist of nearly 24 years. Peet said that Hammaker and the rest of the team have taken steps to empower Benco’s safety committee.

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Peet calls this “a cross functional committee” that ensures other committees “are constantly reviewing our processes and procedures.” Notable among these: the accident and review committee which oversees the company’s extensive van fleet.

“Whether it’s an automobile accident or a liability around a piece of equipment that has broken, we do a good post-op on all of that,” Peet said. And that doesn’t mean bring the driver down for a courtroom-style cross examination, she’s quick to add.

A key component of the questions asked are focused on ensuring a better and safer future for employees and for the company. “What can we take away from this? What can we do better next time?”

“People do not want to call a third party about their benefits. They want to be able to speak with someone here who will better advocate for their needs.” — George Rable, vice president of culture and people, Benco Dental

Another step in the right direction: a new risk management tracking system stressing broad-based accountability.

Gone are the days when someone in a general cost center at the head office takes the heat —or kudos— for the latest loss prevention numbers. Instead, each region is charged back for its workers’ compensation losses and held accountable.

“In the past, the impact of having an associate off work was felt,” said Peet, “but now it affects how they manage the purse strings, so they may have to cut back in other areas.”

Everything is measured —all costs associated with a loss, including premiums, deductibles and retained losses — and everyone is accountable. The same goes for administrative and even indirect costs.

Everyone in the Loop

“Of all the steps we take to communicate, our Workday program leaps out for me,” said Peet. This, she explains, is a program of data analytics that provides more detailed workers’ compensation analysis to managers, backed up by more predictive safety analytics that will be shared “right down to the individual associate.”

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Safety data is available in an online portal, and associates can share information, suggestions and comments, too. Also accessible is an online learning management system, including OSHA training, designed to improve safety. “And we’ll never do away with face-to-face meetings and sending sales and service reps on the road to visit Benco’s five distribution centers,” said Peet.

Of prime importance, too: that first call from staffers in need of advice about their workers’ comp claim. “We’re very high touch here,” said George Rable.

“People do not want to call a third party about their benefits. They want to be able to speak with someone here who will better advocate for their needs. And we have that in Brigid and Brigid’s team.” &

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More coverage of the 2017 Teddy Award Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Advocacy Takes Off: At Delta Air Lines, putting employees first is the right thing to do, for employees and employer alike.

 

Proactive Approach to Employee SafetyThe Valley Health System shifted its philosophy on workers’ compensation, putting employee and patient safety at the forefront.

 

Getting It Right: Better coordination of workers’ compensation risk management spelled success for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

 

Carrots: Not SticksAt Rochester Regional Health, the workers’ comp and safety team champion employee engagement and positive reinforcement.

 

Fit for Duty: Recognizing parallels between athletes and public safety officials, the city of Denver made tailored fitness training part of its safety plan.

 

Triage, Transparency and TeamworkWhen the City of Surprise, Ariz. got proactive about reining in its claims, it also took steps to get employees engaged in making things better for everyone.

A Lesson in Leadership: Shared responsibility, data analysis and a commitment to employees are the hallmarks of Benco Dental’s workers’ comp program.

 

David Godkin is a freelance magazine writer based in Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Report: Manufacturing

More Robots Enter Into Manufacturing Industry

With more jobs utilizing technology advancements, manufacturing turns to cobots to help ease talent gaps.
By: | May 1, 2018 • 6 min read

The U.S. manufacturing industry is at a crossroads.

Faced with a shortfall of as many as two million workers between now and 2025, the sector needs to either reinvent itself by making it a more attractive career choice for college and high school graduates or face extinction. It also needs to shed its image as a dull, unfashionable place to work, where employees are stuck in dead-end repetitive jobs.

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Added to that are the multiple risks caused by the increasing use of automation, sensors and collaborative robots (cobots) in the manufacturing process, including product defects and worker injuries. That’s not to mention the increased exposure to cyber attacks as manufacturers and their facilities become more globally interconnected through the use of smart technology.

If the industry wishes to continue to move forward at its current rapid pace, then manufacturers need to work with schools, governments and the community to provide educational outreach and apprenticeship programs. They must change the perception of the industry and attract new talent. They also need to understand and to mitigate the risks presented by the increased use of technology in the manufacturing process.

“Loss of knowledge due to movement of experienced workers, negative perception of the manufacturing industry and shortages of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and skilled production workers are driving the talent gap,” said Ben Dollar, principal, Deloitte Consulting.

“The risks associated with this are broad and span the entire value chain — [including]  limitations to innovation, product development, meeting production goals, developing suppliers, meeting customer demand and quality.”

The Talent Gap

Manufacturing companies are rapidly expanding. With too few skilled workers coming in to fill newly created positions, the talent gap is widening. That has been exacerbated by the gradual drain of knowledge and expertise as baby boomers retire and a decline in technical education programs in public high schools.

Ben Dollar, principal, Deloitte Consulting

“Most of the millennials want to work for an Amazon, Google or Yahoo, because they seem like fun places to work and there’s a real sense of community involvement,” said Dan Holden, manager of corporate risk and insurance, Daimler Trucks North America. “In contrast, the manufacturing industry represents the ‘old school’ where your father and grandfather used to work.

“But nothing could be further from the truth: We offer almost limitless opportunities in engineering and IT, working in fields such as electric cars and autonomous driving.”

To dispel this myth, Holden said Daimler’s Educational Outreach Program assists qualified organizations that support public high school educational programs in STEM, CTE (career technical education) and skilled trades’ career development.

It also runs weeklong technology schools in its manufacturing facilities to encourage students to consider manufacturing as a vocation, he said.

“It’s all essentially a way of introducing ourselves to the younger generation and to present them with an alternative and rewarding career choice,” he said. “It also gives us the opportunity to get across the message that just because we make heavy duty equipment doesn’t mean we can’t be a fun and educational place to work.”

Rise of the Cobot

Automation undoubtedly helps manufacturers increase output and improve efficiency by streamlining production lines. But it’s fraught with its own set of risks, including technical failure, a compromised manufacturing process or worse — shutting down entire assembly lines.

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More technologically advanced machines also require more skilled workers to operate and maintain them. Their absence can in turn hinder the development of new manufacturing products and processes.

Christina Villena, vice president of risk solutions, The Hanover Insurance Group, said the main risk of using cobots is bodily injury to their human coworkers. These cobots are robots that share a physical workspace and interact with humans. To overcome the problem of potential injury, Villena said, cobots are placed in safety cages or use force-limited technology to prevent hazardous contact.

“With advancements in technology, such as the Cloud, there are going to be a host of cyber and other risks associated with them.” — David Carlson, U.S. manufacturing and automobile practice leader, Marsh

“Technology must be in place to prevent cobots from exerting excessive force against a human or exposing them to hazardous tools or chemicals,” she said. “Traditional robots operate within a safety cage to prevent dangerous contact. Failure or absence of these guards has led to injuries and even fatalities.”

The increasing use of interconnected devices and the Cloud to control and collect data from industrial control systems can also leave manufacturers exposed to hacking, said David Carlson, Marsh’s U.S. manufacturing and automobile practice leader. Given the relatively new nature of cyber as a risk, however, he said coverage is still a gray area that must be assessed further.

“With advancements in technology, such as the Cloud, there are going to be a host of cyber and other risks associated with them,” he said. “Therefore, companies need to think beyond the traditional risks, such as workers’ compensation and product liability.”

Another threat, said Bill Spiers, vice president, risk control consulting practice leader, Lockton Companies, is any malfunction of the software used to operate cobots. Then there is the machine not being able to cope with the increased workload when production is ramped up, he said.

“If your software goes wrong, it can stop the machine working or indeed the whole manufacturing process,” he said. “[Or] you might have a worker who is paid by how much they can produce in an hour who decides to turn up the dial, causing the machine to go into overdrive and malfunction.”

Potential Solutions

Spiers said risk managers need to produce a heatmap of their potential exposures in the workplace attached to the use of cobots in the manufacturing process, including safety and business interruption. This can also extend to cyber liability, he said.

“You need to understand the risk, if it’s controllable and, indeed, if it’s insurable,” he said. “By carrying out a full risk assessment, you can determine all of the relevant issues and prioritize them accordingly.”

By using collective learning to understand these issues, Joseph Mayo, president, JW Mayo Consulting, said companies can improve their safety and manufacturing processes.

“Companies need to work collaboratively as an industry to understand this new technology and the problems associated with it.” — Joseph Mayo, president, JW Mayo Consulting

“Companies need to work collaboratively as an industry to understand this new technology and the problems associated with it,” Mayo said. “They can also use detective controls to anticipate these issues and react accordingly by ensuring they have the appropriate controls and coverage in place to deal with them.”

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Manufacturing risks today extend beyond traditional coverage, like workers’ compensation, property, equipment breakdown, automobile, general liability and business interruption, to new risks, such as cyber liability.

It’s key to use a specialized broker and carrier with extensive knowledge and experience of the industry’s unique risks.

Stacie Graham, senior vice president and general manager, Liberty Mutual’s national insurance central division, said there are five key steps companies need to take to protect themselves and their employees against these risks. They include teaching them how to use the equipment properly, maintaining the same high quality of product and having a back-up location, as well as having the right contractual insurance policy language in place and plugging any potential coverage gaps.

“Risk managers need to work closely with their broker and carrier to make sure that they have the right contractual controls in place,” she said. “Secondly, they need to carry out on-site visits to make sure that they have the right safety practices and to identify the potential claims that they need to mitigate against.” &

Alex Wright is a U.K.-based business journalist, who previously was deputy business editor at The Royal Gazette in Bermuda. You can reach him at [email protected]