2018 Risk All Star: Kathleen Peck

When Faced With Workers’ Comp Chaos, This Risk Manager Restructured the Way Claims Were Handled

For a staffing company with claims out of control, Kathleen Peck tore the program down and built it back up to achieve success, which earned her a 2018 Risk All Star designation.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 2 min read

As a veteran risk manager, Kathleen Peck was brought in to help MVP Staffing come to grips with serious problems: Workers’ compensation claims were five or six times the normal rate, with far too few workers returning to the job after an injury.

Kathleen Peck, director of risk management, MVP Staffing

Seeking out the root cause, what she discovered brought to mind the classic Agatha Christie mystery “Murder on the Orient Express,” because everyone did it.

Peck found problems everywhere. Some client companies were placing temporary workers in potentially dangerous situations; some workers seemed more interested in getting hurt and filing claims than in productive employment; claims managers were unable to cope; and underwriters were indifferent.

All this at a staffing company that would place tens of thousands of employees each day.

“We were faced with some predatory employers who did not care about their temporary employees,” said Peck, “and we also faced some predatory employees who would go to work with the intention of getting hurt.

“The previous team here did not have a strong risk management or claims background, and the legacy carrier just sat on their hands and cut checks.”

Peck cleaned house. Of the 17 people in her group when she started, only two remain. Her predecessor had already ended the relationship with the legacy carrier, so Peck had to close cases with the old one and find a new one better aligned with the company’s needs.

She instituted a strict new return-to-work policy based around light duty and professional nursing oversight.

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“Kathleen is passionate,” said Pat McSay, a registered nurse and area sales manager for Genex Services, the managed-care provider that Peck brought in. She also has a clear and detailed vision of what it will take to meet her goals.

“Based on her many years in workers’ comp, she knows the tools and knows which ones will work. I had supervisors who said, ‘Well, she is going to need other things …’ Kathleen was polite but firm and clear about what she needed. She was precise. She stresses teamwork and communication, and not only does she listen to feedback, she implements it when it makes sense.”

“We can work with any restriction, we just need the release from the doctor. We want to get into the return-to-work mindset before anyone settles into the disability mindset.” — Kathleen Peck, director of risk management, MVP Staffing

Peck has had great success with the light-duty return-to-work program. “My team assesses each case. If their previous employment placement cannot accommodate them, they go to Genex. We can work with any restriction, we just need the release from the doctor. We want to get into the return-to-work mindset before anyone settles into the disability mindset. Usually we have a light-duty job offer within 48 hours.”

Nonprofits are an excellent fit for light duty, said Peck.

“They are happy to have anyone, and can work with restrictions,” she said. Employees can refuse a nonprofit placement, but a rejection allows MVP to move to close the claim. &

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

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist based in New York with 25 years’ experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected]

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.

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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.

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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]