This Retailer Cut Workers’ Comp Costs By 41 Percent With One Simple Method

When an athlete is injured, trainers rush in and assist the player to the bench for treatment. A large chain of discount stores, 99 Cents Only, implemented the same model for workplace injuries.
By: | October 17, 2018 • 3 min read

When an athlete is injured, trainers rush in, make an assessment and assist the player to the bench for treatment.

A large chain of discount stores in the Southwest, 99 Cents Only, implemented the same model for workplace injuries. The pilot program has been highly successful, with a 41-percent reduction in lost-time claims in the first 12 months. The program has also accelerated employees’ return to work and has reduced insurance costs.

On-Site Triage for Injured Workers

“The idea was brought to us by our brokerage, Beecher Carlson,” said Alvina Garcia, senior manager of workers’ compensation and safety at 99 Cents Only.

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The company has almost 400 stores, primarily in California, but also Arizona, Nevada and Texas. Each store has about 30 to 40 employees, and like most employers, the company was struggling with rising claims and costs and lingering cases. In particular, Garcia cited the delays in initial treatments, further delays for specialists if needed and the lack of continuity in case management.

The pilot project, using the sports-trainer model, opened in September 2017 with two clinics in stores where there had been high occurrences of injuries. Clinicians were able to triage injuries immediately, and the company used a ride-hailing service to get injured workers to treatment quickly.

“We have seen great success,” said Garcia.

“Most workers are glad to get the immediate care, referrals, and transportation. The clinicians stay on top of the treatment plan and act like a second adjuster on the file. They also assist employees on light duty as they come back to work.” — Alvina Garcia, senior manager of workers’ compensation and safety, 99 Cents Only

“We have expedited referrals to the best providers and reduced lag time of referrals from seven days to one day or less. The clinics also provide the opportunity for employees to pop in any time for guidance on ergonomics, especially lifting.”

After a full year of the pilot project, a third, larger clinic is being installed at one of the California distribution centers. It will serve all three, as well as 33 retail stores in the immediate area. To be sure, there are costs to build and staff the facilities, but Garcia stated emphatically “those costs are significantly less than what our workers’ comp costs had been.”

The company is self insured but as a result of the program has been able to reduce the bonds that it has to post with the state.

Workers Benefit as Well

“Our clinicians give employees better care,” said Garcia. “That is far better than what they were getting at third-party occupational health clinics. They get personal attention to themselves and to their progress plan.”

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Clinicians are also gathering insight and data on injuries and are in the process of compiling recommendations for management on ways to reduce injuries and improve work practices.

Like most companies, 99 Cents Only sees the majority of injured workers eager to get better and get back to work, but invariably there is the occasional malingerer.

“We have seen it all,” said Garcia. “Most workers are glad to get the immediate care, referrals and transportation. The clinicians stay on top of the treatment plan and act like a second adjuster on the file. They also assist employees on light duty as they come back to work.”

As for those workers who are less diligent, “Our clinicians are very quick to pick up on a situation and investigate if it seems like someone is trying to take advantage.”

The mere presence of the clinics as a resource tends to encourage positive behavior and discourage the negative. &

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 riskletters@lrp.com.

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.

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But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.

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Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &

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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.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at dreynolds@lrp.com.