Announcing the 2019 Teddy Award Winners

This year’s Teddy Award winners offer a glimpse of what comes next in workers’ comp — a world where we don’t need to say we advocate for injured workers, we just do it.
By: | November 1, 2019

For the first time in a few years, “worker advocacy” wasn’t the biggest buzzword popping off of the pages of employer applications for the Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation & Disability Management Awards. In some cases, in fact, it was even missing altogether.

Except that it wasn’t.

Five Teddy Award winners were chosen in the 2019 contest, which is sponsored by PMA Companies, from a range of industries and organization sizes, hailing from across the country. What they have in common is meaningful. They are putting workers first in ways that strive to move beyond an advocacy model and into a model where we simply put employees first, period.

These employers defined the problems they strove to solve, not in terms of fiscal pain points first but in terms of employee pain points. Things like, “Workers had to wait too long for treatment” or “Workers didn’t always know who to ask about their claim,” are the problems they seek to solve.

Along the way, these employers are living the ideal that if you do right by your people, the savings will follow. Read the stories of this year’s winners to learn how they’re not just advocating for injured workers. They’re putting their people first both pre- and post-injury, and they’re being rewarded with strengthened employee satisfaction as well as dramatic cost savings.

Caesars Entertainment installed full-service medical clinics at its locations in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Injured workers are getting better faster, and the company was able to realize a return on its investment in less than three months.

“We knew that it would be quick, we just didn’t know how quick,” said Brad Waldron, vice president, risk management for Caesars.

The City of Surprise also sought out superior care for its people, investing time to gather intel on the medical providers who are seen as top notch by employers, employees and vendors. The risk management team sought unparalleled care for its people, and secured its network with an offer many providers couldn’t refuse: prompt payment. Superior worker outcomes + plus happy docs + discounted rates = win-win-win.

At Kohl’s Department Stores, wellness centers have been established throughout the company that serve the needs of injured workers as well as everyone else.

“Things that can complicate a workers’ comp claim can be eliminated through routine visits to a primary care physician. Giving the associates the option of seeing someone right on site helps to keep our associates healthy and minimize injuries,” said Laurie Frey, senior manager, workers’ compensation, Kohl’s Department Stores.

At Clemens Food Group, the team and its partners came up with a simple approach to meeting its workers’ comp goals: the team member comes first, no matter the cost.

“It’s one person at a time, one case at a time,” said John Madaus, Clemens’ workers’ compensation manager.

Along the way, these progressive employers are finding out what happens when a workers’ compensation program is built on trust and genuine concern for their people.

Said Joseph F. Molloy, senior vice president, workforce safety, Northwell Health: “Just reading testimonials and getting emails [from injured workers saying], ‘you really helped me through a difficult time,’ ‘your team did great,’ ‘this person was great’ — that really means we’re doing exactly what we set out to do, which was advocacy for the employee.” &

The 2019 Teddy Award Winners


Caesars Doubles Down on Employee Safety

Two risk managers with backgrounds in heavy industry brought crucial risk management lessons learned into the hospitality arena.

Read Here


Kohl’s Builds an Award-Winning WC Program

Kohl’s Department Stores knew a reactive approach in claims management wouldn’t help them achieve their goals. So they got proactive.

Read Here


Clemens Brings Home the Bacon 

When Clemens’ Food Group changed WC strategies, the result was less injuries, faster recovery and a reputation of putting people first.

Read Here


Northwell Health Hops on the Bus

Northwell Health’s workforce safety department completed 800 initiatives and created a culture of worker advocacy at the company.

Read Here


Excellence Is No Surprise for This City

The City of Surprise achieved superior injury outcomes while slashing program costs by using trust and respect as the foundation.

Read Here

Michelle Kerr is Workers' Compensation Editor and National Conference Chair for Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

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