2017 Risk All Star: Dan Holden

Standing Up and Standing Out

Dan Holden works for a manufacturer. Downtime is the company’s biggest worry.

Dan Holden, manager, Corporate Risk & Insurance, Daimler Trucks North America

So when he started at Daimler Trucks North America 10 years ago, Holden queried company officials on business continuity, disaster recovery and emergency preparedness plans.

Specifically, he wanted to know if the company had contracts in place with restoration companies that would stipulate that those restorers give Daimler immediate help in the event of a fire or some other business interruption event.

In an international business like Daimler’s — owner of Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Trucks, among other brands — there are always plenty of issues to address, so the immediate disaster restoration concept wasn’t acted on right away.

Then it happened. A fire hit one of Daimler’s U.S. plants and knocked it offline. Holden was tasked with getting a restoration company out to the site as soon as possible.

He did that, and then learned that additional restoration companies, that he hadn’t called, made their way to the site, acting on information they picked up listening to emergency response scanners. One of the imposters had even gained entry to the plant and started work.

Holden escorted the posers off the premises. Luckily, the fire wasn’t as bad as initially thought and the restoration company he called was able to get the plant up and running in Daimler’s preferred 36-hour timeframe.


Rather than say “I told you so,” Holden used the plant fire as a teaching moment to get what he’d been after all along: an agreement with a reputable disaster restoration company which had the resources and the will to give Daimler contracted, immediate help if an event occurred.

“When we had this fire, it was a perfect opportunity for me to say, ‘Okay, what have we learned from this?’ ” Holden recalls.

Had the situation been worse — say, a regional disaster — he remembers thinking, “We would have had to just get in line with everybody that didn’t have a pre-planned disaster restoration program and hope that somebody gets to us.”

“When we had this fire, it was a perfect opportunity for me to say, ‘Okay, what have we learned from this?’ ” — Dan Holden, manager, Corporate Risk & Insurance, Daimler Trucks North America

After putting out an RFP, Holden and his colleagues in facilities decided on Belfor USA, which had the resources and the geographic spread to give Holden what he needed. Now, any Daimler plant in the U.S. that suffers an adverse event just needs to dial an 800 number to get immediate restoration help.

The program roll-out was so well-received by upper management that Holden was invited to share his disaster restoration program with his international risk management partners at a global risk summit. His plan is now being used as a template in other countries.

Katie Miller, a regional accounts manager with Belfor, said Holden did a great job in bringing various stakeholders within Daimler together to make sure everyone understood the importance of getting immediate disaster recovery help and signing off on it.

“He ended up taking the lead completely,” Miller said. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

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