2014 NWCDC Keynote Preview

Integrated Approach Offers Benefits for All

L. Casey Chosewood highlights how to tear down departmental silos.
By: | March 18, 2014 • 3 min read

The doctor spearheading a push for employers to integrate their worker health and safety programs will address the 2014 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo.

ConferenceL. Casey Chosewood is an energetic speaker who doesn’t hide behind a lectern when speaking before a crowd. He prefers to roam the stage when talking about worker health and the potential gains for employers when they integrate their programs for addressing employee health issues, whether those concerns arise from occupational illnesses and injuries or non-work-related health problems.

Chosewood’s keynote address will kick off the 23rd annual NWC&DC conference that runs November 19-21 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.


An M.D. and former regional medical director for Lucent Technologies, Chosewood is senior medical officer for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and director of the Office for Total Worker Health Coordination and Research.

NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a core mission of helping keep workers safe from on-the-job illness and injury.

But the federal agency understands that a broader approach to “total worker health” and safety promotion is needed because employees suffering from chronic disease or age-related issues carry those risks into the workplace, Chosewood explained.


Chosewood discusses tearing down silos for total worker health.

Chronic disease and aging can impact workers’ potential to suffer on-the-job accidents and the amount of time necessary to recover when a workplace injury does occur, Chosewood added.

“Just looking at exposures on the job is important and vital, but it’s not enough,” he said. “Addressing those risks, on the job and away from the job, are in an employer’s interests because at the end of the day, the employer is on the hook for all these costs.”

Integrating employers’ occupational and non-occupational health and safety efforts to promote total worker health doesn’t require a large, structural transformation, Chosewood said.

It can be as simple as coordinating meetings between an employer’s group health benefits and educational offerings, their workers’ comp programs and their safety department so that employees receive consistent messages about their health, he said. Those efforts should not be undermined by departmental silos that hinder coordination.

“Just looking at exposures on the job is important and vital, but it’s not enough.” — L. Casey Chosewood, senior medical officer, NIOSH

“As long as all the parts and players [in an organization] are meeting regularly and assuring that their end product and goals are aligned and that they communicate to make sure their programs complement each other instead of contradicting each other,” Chosewood said, “that is a great step forward.”

Although a growing number of large, sophisticated employers now understand the value of integrating various health and safety education programs, many companies still split their efforts.


“Ideally, the safety folks in an organization are in the same line of control, the same line of communication as the health and benefits and health promotion folks,” Chosewood said. “Unfortunately, some organizations split them. Safety is in manufacturing or operations, where the health promotion people are under human resources. We think that is a missed opportunity, because at the end of the day they are both after the same thing, a healthier worker.”

Chosewood doesn’t speak strictly from an academic background.

While working for Lucent Technologies in the early 2000s he helped oversee occupational health services for 30,000 employees. The program included health services, health promotion, disability management and workers’ comp coordination.

In that role, Chosewood treated employees injured on the job as well as made executive operational decisions, he said.

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

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]