It’s a tragedy when people are injured on the job. It is an even greater tragedy when people are injured in the process of helping others. These dedicated employees often suffer severe injuries in the course of working with developmentally disabled individuals. In the course of providing loving care, employees are often bitten, scratched, struck, and even concussed.
Horton Safety Consultants works with a growing number of not-for-profit agencies that serve the developmentally disabled, including some agencies who are considered the “last resort” for severely autistic children and young adults. The amazing individuals who work with this community willingly place themselves at risk in an effort to help the clients they lovingly serve.
Genalle Miller, Senior Safety Consultant, provides safety consulting services to these agencies. One agency was experiencing so many severe injuries, they were on the brink of being placed in the state’s assigned risk pool for workers’ compensation insurance. Their costs would skyrocket, and with payments stalled by Illinois because of its own fiscal crisis, this would have had resulted in disastrous consequences, including the possible suspension of services to those in greatest need.
To help this client, Genalle assisted the client in developing and implementing an accident review board process. The board consists of the agency’s executives, key managers, and Genalle, who meet on a monthly basis to review every incident, accident, and injury. Board members were instructed in their roles to make sure the process would be welcomed by injured employees and their supervisors.
The injured employee and their immediate supervisor appear before the board and are asked to provide their account of what happened and offer their thoughts on how similar incidents can be prevented in the future. Naturally, when employees and their supervisors are asked to appear, they may feel apprehensive. But, all apprehension disappears when the employee realizes the purpose of the accident review board is to make sure the employee is able to perform their job in a safe manner and to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.
Many of the accidents and injuries occurred because staff compromised the safe distance they are taught to maintain from their clients. The accident review board process helped to communicate the paramount concern for staff from the executives of the organization. Remarkably, the loss experience of this client improved immediately.
Prior to implementation of the accident review board strategy, the loss ratio (the cost of workers’ compensation claims divided by the premiums paid) was 147%, a losing proposition for the insurance company. In the five years following implementation, the total loss ratio is 19% and in the two most recent years, the loss ratio is 7%. Even though this agency has grown in size and added employees, they are paying 60% less for insurance than they were prior to Genalle’s creative solution.
In addition to significantly reducing the number of accidents and injuries, the accident review board process improved the culture of safety at this agency. Staff and their supervisors now understand the agency’s commitment to the safety of their staff. Because the board consists of representatives from various agency departments, the ideas generated to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents are more comprehensive.
The results were nothing short of a miracle for this social services agency. Dedicated social services workers can now perform their jobs in a safer manner, while still serving the needs of such a special group of individuals. It was also a learning experience for everyone when a seemingly hopeless situation could be turned around so quickly. If this process can work in such an unusual scenario where all other options failed, why can’t it work in more traditional workplace settings like yours?
Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.