Workers’ compensation is a year-round assignment for schools throughout New England. From underwriting to injury prevention and claim coordination, A.I.M. Mutual service teams understand the unique needs of schools and colleges.
When writing workers’ compensation coverage for schools, whether public or private, a few things come to mind. Underwriters recognize that schools operate under extreme dynamics. Large groups of people are moving around, all following the same schedule, getting from point A to point B in a short period of time. This leaves an open window for injuries to happen.
“Only about 10% of the incidents that occur in schools are due to a physical hazard,” reports Daniel Ilnicky, Director of Injury Prevention, Worksite Wellness & Business Relations. “Causation of the other 90% is behaviors: it is the people who work, produce and move throughout the facilities.”
Those behaviors, in turn, translate to a number of risks: slips and falls, lifting (strains), and contact with objects (lacerations) top the list.
Underwriters work closely with broker partners to bring each school a responsive, results-driven workers’ compensation program. One challenge for carriers writing schools is the number of different jobs and tasks that fall under just two class codes (sometimes three). Class codes, set by the state or the industry, are used to identify specific categories of work and define the risk. For schools, underwriters must consider all factors when constructing a policy and issuing a quote or renewal. Having expertise in the education market is invaluable.
We’re often asked how we can help a school, district, or association with controlling workers’ compensation costs. A.I.M. Mutual service teams partner with schools to put custom injury management and prevention strategies in place.
Claim management starts at the time of first report. Consider the case of a teacher arriving at the classroom at 7:00 a.m., standing on a step stool to update the bulletin board, and slipping off. The teacher suffers right arm and leg injuries, is treated at the ER, and A.I.M. Mutual is notified right way.
The claim has occurred, and now it needs to be managed to confirm that the employee is being well cared for and will be able to return to work after—or during—the recovery period. This claim allows for a light-duty return-to-work program, something the A.I.M. Mutual claim team excels at. In many cases, injured employees may return to their job with a doctor’s order outlining any restrictions and the requirements to heal safely and correctly. Accommodations may include part-time work, sitting instead of standing, or eliminating lifting. Schools have a variety of jobs so the injured worker could come back in a different capacity, short term.
We all know how valuable our employees are these days and how difficult it is to find good employees. A return-to-work program not only strengthens the relationship between the employer and the employee but also strengthens the morale of co-workers, which can prevent future claims. Workers recover more quickly if they’re able to work in some capacity, re-connect, and feel valued.
SCHOOLS AND WORKPLACE SAFETY
Despite a robust safety program, one school district saw a spike in outdoor slip-and-fall claims following a full return to the classroom this past winter. Through an A.I.M. Mutual vendor, they invested in new technology: LED signs that automatically alerted employees to icy conditions. Early results look promising.
That may seem like a straightforward response but getting to the root cause of injuries is not always easy. Injury Prevention & Worksite Wellness (IPWW) Consultants work with schools to improve loss ratios and experience modification factors, which impact premium. They zero in on the major loss sources, providing expert guidance and training on preventing these types of injuries.
Analyzing loss trending data helps identify opportunities to improve in certain areas, such as:
Lag time, the period between the date of an accident and the date it was reported. If lag times are high, the accident reporting process may
Types of claims driving the losses, the locations driving the losses, and the length of employment of the injured employee at the time of injury. Is training an issue?
Incidents of “accident repeaters,” i.e., employees who injure themselves at work with some frequency. What are the circumstances?
Safety also needs to be part of the school culture. Forming a safety committee-comprised of management and employees-can help prevent claims from happening and provide insight on claims that have occurred. IPWW Consultants often participate in person or remotely to support the activities and initiatives of each school's safety committee. IPWW Consultants provide schools with information on common loss sources, such as slips/trips/falls, ergonomics, workplace violence, kitchen safety, and custodian safety.
The same components apply to worksite wellness., which A.I.M. Mutual introduced as part of its workers' compensation management program in 2013. IPWW Consultants provide wellness-related resources and participate in wellness committee meetings to collaborate on programming.
In our view, the school environment demands subject matter experts, not only in the classroom but in the workers’ compensation services it depends upon.
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