Risk Insider: Andy Hosman

Data Matters; Regardless of Regulatory Shifts

By: | July 6, 2017 • 3 min read
Andy Hosman is the vice president of Operational Risk Solutions at Sphera. He has more than 17 years of experience in designing, developing, and implementing risk management solutions to help customers assess, mitigate, manage and monitor their risk more effectively. Prior to joining Sphera, Andy was a senior vice president of product management at Marsh ClearSight.
Topics: Risk Insider | Safety

On May 31, a Topeka, Kansas, worker was killed when a forklift pinned him against another piece of equipment, according to the radio station KVOE-AM.

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Tragedies like this one are far too common, and no loss of life from a workplace incident is ever acceptable. The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that 4,500 people die every year in the United States from work-related accidents, and studies have shown the cost of occupational injuries and illnesses to employers could be as much as $250 billion per year.

With the recent disapproval of OSHA’s clarification on its recordkeeping rule, known as the Volks Rule, there is a lot of focus on the amount of time that data should be retained.

Ultimately, the discussion should not be centered on whether companies should be legally required to maintain incident records for the current six-month period or the five-year period under Volks. Instead, the conversation should be focused on using data as an analytical tool that helps both employers and workers.

The key to improving workplace safety is understanding the causes of the incidents and near-misses that take place in a company and putting measures and systems in place to mitigate them. That’s where good quality incident data comes into play.

A larger, more statistically robust data set enables companies to understand the true cause-and-effect relationships between workplace incidents and the measures put in place to reduce their frequency and severity.

Six months of recordkeeping will provide only enough data for the employer to perform initial root-cause analysis across incidents. This information is valuable because it allows the organization to learn from those events and take corrective actions.

However, this limited scope of data might not allow for understanding the long-term effects of changes to workplace safety or broader trends across the organization. It also does not allow for effective benchmarking against an industry peer set to acquire more valuable predictive and prescriptive analytics, which are vital to maintaining safe workplaces.

So how much data is enough?

Incident data is a critical lagging indicator of the effectiveness of a company’s safety program. Without sufficient historical data, companies are more likely to see accidents repeat themselves. A larger, more statistically robust data set enables companies to understand the true cause-and-effect relationships between workplace incidents and the measures put in place to reduce their frequency and severity.

This allows companies to shift their focus toward leading indicators that are captured from proactive risk measures, such as assessments and inspections, to predict where incidents are more likely to occur and so companies can allocate their resources accordingly.

Aside from the analytical value of the data, the transparency of key incident metrics and key performance indicators to employees is important to drive a culture of safety. Employers that present workers with regularly updated graphs or dashboards of key safety metrics demonstrate that they care a lot about their workers’ well-being, and the more information companies collect will help mitigate risks.

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This level of transparency and access to information increases employee morale, reduces incidents and — ultimately — lowers insurance premiums.

The disapproval of the Volks Rule reflects a bare minimum level of compliance across U.S. industries, but that shouldn’t stop companies from retaining quality incident data for multiple years to realize the true value of their safety data.

A commitment to operational excellence through continued learning and improvement in safety has led to increased earnings and performance for major corporations, and the power of data is the key to this improvement.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Teddy Awards

The Era of Engagement

The very best workers’ compensation programs are the ones where workers aren’t just the subject of the program, they’re a part of it.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 5 min read

Employee engagement, employee advocacy, employee participation — these are common threads running through the programs we honor this year in the 2017 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Awards, sponsored by PMA Companies.

A panel of judges — including workers’ comp executives who actively engage their own employees — selected this year’s winners on the basis of performance, sustainability, innovation and teamwork. The winners hail from different industries and regions, but all make people part of the solution to unique challenges.

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Valley Health System is all-too keenly aware of the risk of violence in health care settings, running the gamut from disruptive patients to grieving, overwrought family members to mentally unstable active shooters.

Valley Health employs a proactive and comprehensive plan to respond to violent scenarios, involving its Code Atlas Team — 50 members of the clinical staff and security departments who undergo specialized training. Valley Health drills regularly, including intense annual active shooter drills that involve participation from local law enforcement.

The drills are unnerving for many, but the program is making a difference — the health system cut its workplace violence injuries in half in the course of just one year.

“We’re looking at patient safety and employee safety like never before,” said Barbara Schultz, director of employee health and wellness.

At Rochester Regional Health’s five hospitals and six long-term care facilities, a key loss driver was slips and falls. The system’s mandatory safety shoe program saw only moderate take-up, but the reason wasn’t clear.

Rather than force managers to write up non-compliant employees, senior manager of workers’ compensation and employee safety Monica Manske got proactive, using a survey as well as one-on-one communication to suss out the obstacles. After making changes based on the feedback, shoe compliance shot up from 35 percent to 85 percent, contributing to a 42 percent reduction in lost-time claims and a 46 percent reduction in injuries.

For the shoe program, as well as every RRH safety initiative, Manske’s team takes the same approach: engaging employees to teach and encourage safe behaviors rather than punishing them for lapses.

For some of this year’s Teddy winners, success was born of the company’s willingness to make dramatic program changes.

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Delta Air Lines made two ambitious program changes since 2013. First it adopted an employee advocacy model for its disability and leave of absence programs. After tasting success, the company transitioned all lines including workers’ compensation to an integrated absence management program bundled under a single TPA.

While skeptics assume “employee advocacy” means more claims and higher costs, Delta answers with a reality that’s quite the opposite. A year after the transition, Delta reduced open claims from 3,479 to 1,367, with its total incurred amount decreased by $50.1 million — head and shoulders above its projected goals.

For the Massachusetts Port Authority, change meant ending the era of having a self-administered program and partnering with a TPA. It also meant switching from a guaranteed cost program to a self-insured program for a significant segment of its workforce.

Massport’s results make a great argument for embracing change: The organization saved $21 million over the past six years. Freeing up resources allowed Massport to increase focus on safety as well as medical management and chopped its medical costs per claim in half — even while allowing employees to choose their own health care providers.

Risk & Insurance® congratulates the 2017 Teddy Award winners and holds them in high esteem for their tireless commitment to a safe workforce that’s fully engaged in its own care. &

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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.

 

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]