The State of the States

State Workers’ Comp News

By: | January 21, 2014 • 3 min read

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]


Former administrator of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court, Michael Clingman, joins the Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute as a regional director based in Oklahoma.

“At WCRI, Mike will be responsible for relationships, revenues, and the impact of studies in a dozen states,” said a statement from WCRI. “He will work collaboratively with researchers on studies, and help public officials and stakeholders to apply the findings of relevant WCRI studies to local public policy debates.”

Clingman was previously the CEO of the Oklahoma State Insurance Fund, the state budget director, secretary of the Senate, secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board, and the CEO of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, the statement said.

“We are extremely pleased to add someone of Mike’s experience and talent to WCRI’s staff,” said Richard Victor, WCRI executive director. “He brings additional dimensions to the institute that helps us better accomplish our mission.”


Washington state’s employers and employees are seeing their workers’ comp rates increase for the first time in three years. The 2.7 percent rate hike announced for 2014 represents an increase of less than two cents per hour worked, state officials said. The increase is expected to bring in an additional $55 million in premiums.

Washington is the only state in which workers pay part of the workers’ comp premiums. With the rate increase, their share will be about 25 percent of the total.

The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries said the rate hike is part of a long-term plan “to ensure steady and predictable rates by benchmarking against wage inflation,” according to Director Joel Sacks. “It will also help to gradually rebuild the workers’ comp reserves.”


Benchmarking against wage inflation is something that happens automatically in other states, L&I explained in a statement.

Reforms adopted in 2011 are expected to save approximately $150 million in the fiscal year that ends in July. Additionally, Sacks said the department is “committed to reducing costs by $35 million to $70 million by June” through various means of improving efficiency and addressing customers’ needs.

New Jersey

The Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau announced a 3.6 percent rate hike for New Jersey employers. Benefits to injured workers will also increase. The bureau announced the approval of the rate hike by the state’s commissioner of Banking and Insurance.

Also taking effect this month are maximum and minimum weekly benefit increases. Workers with all types of injuries except permanent partial disabilities may receive up to $843 per week up from $826. The minimum weekly benefit is now $225 up from $220.

In cases involving permanent partial disabilities, the maximum weekly benefits range is now between $225 and $843 up from $220 to $826. The minimum weekly amount for PPD benefits will remain at $35.


Ohio employers that participate in state-sponsored safety councils are getting premium rebates and performance bonuses. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation recently made the announcement.

“Thousands of Ohio employers are receiving more than $9.4 million in savings for their participation in one of 78 safety councils sponsored by the BWC’s Division of Safety and Hygiene,” the agency said. “Safety councils are organized across the state by local businesses to inform participants of new safety standards and regulations, products and services, and provide a thorough knowledge of topics, including occupational safety and health, workers’ compensation, and risk management education.”

Employers that participate in safety councils are eligible to receive a 2 percent premium rebate. Those that reduce either frequency or severity of their workplace accidents by 10 percent or with maintenance at zero may additionally receive a 2 percent performance bonus.

More than 1,900 employers were rewarded for participating in safety councils, and 2,600 shared more than $4 million in performance bonuses, the agency said.

“Safety councils are outstanding partners in BWC’s efforts to educate employers and workers about the importance of workplace safety,” said Steve Buehrer, the BWC’s administrator/CEO. “We are pleased to award these employers that work hard to instill safety in their workplaces because they understand prevention is the single most important feature of an effective workplace safety program.”

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]