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NWCDC Preview

Disability Track Focuses on Saving Money, Managing Absences

NWCDC's Disability Management track includes breakout sessions on integrated disability management, managing workplace absences, and making the most of workplace diversity.
By: | September 10, 2014 • 4 min read

The 23rd annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo takes place Nov. 19-21 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The confer­ence is produced by LRP Publications, which also publishes Risk & Insurance®.

ConferenceThis Disability Management track of the 23rd annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo includes breakout sessions on integrated disability management programs that are saving employers money, managing workplace absences, and making the most of workplace diversity.

The Productivity Challenge: Engaging Injured, Absent and Disconnected Workers

Speakers:

  • Teresa Bartlett, M.D., senior vice president of medical quality, Sedgwick
  • Kevin Confetti, employment practices and workers’ compensation, University of California

Managing workplace absences is as much an art as a science. Whether due to injury or disability, occupational or nonoccupational problems, or personal challenges that render employees unproductive, the results are the same: Less than optimal output for the employer.

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The speakers will offer insight to help employers integrate their health, wellness, safety, and quality care programs. Bartlett and Confetti will share a comprehensive employee-centric model they say has been shown to engage injured, absent, and disconnected workers and produce dividends for employers. They will identify ways to lessen the drain on workplace productivity, demonstrate the direct linkage between health, safety and wellness, quality care, employee engagement, and productivity, and compare traditional programs with those being integrated and expanded to improve performance.

Harley-Davidson Saves $3.5 Million Through Injury Prevention, Management Program

Speakers:

  • Sue Gartner, corporate health services HR manager, Harley-Davidson Motor Company
  • Beth Mrozinsky, corporate safety and health HR director, Harley-Davidson Motor Company

A 68 percent reduction in workers’ comp claims, a 63 percent drop in costs, and bottom line savings of $3.5 million are the achievements at Harley Davidson since 2009. Gartner and Mrozinsky will outline the challenges that led to their integrated approach focusing on occupational and nonoccupational injuries, and will share their strategies and successes to help other employers build a similar program.

They will provide strategies for employers to integrate absence management programs and build on the strengths of the employer’s partners, demonstrate how to manage an aging workforce from hire to retire, evaluate metrics to gauge progress and determine the need for modifications to continue ensuring successful results, and show how to use outside-the-box thinking to incorporate progressive solutions to issues previously considered just a part of doing business.

Overcoming Psychosocial Barriers to Recovery: It’s Not Just a Theory Anymore

Speakers:

  • Sherri Burrell, head of operations, Briotix Inc.
  • Ruth Estrich, chief strategy officer, MedRisk
  • Carrie Freeland, manager of the Integrated Leave Department, Costco Wholesale

Despite advances in medical care, many rehabilitation programs fall short of the main goal: returning injured workers to preinjury functional outcomes. According to the speakers, these programs typically are symptom-based and lack effective elements to address the psychosocial issues that stall recovery in the claims responsible for 80 percent of the workers’ comp spend.

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They will address how cutting-edge behavioral modification programs that effectively address these psychosocial barriers can help practitioners identify at-risk injured workers, facilitate faster return to work, and promote reintegration into life-role activities. The three will explain how psychosocial risk factors impact disability and drive costs; differentiate cost-effective rehabilitation programs designed to improve return-to-work, health, and socioeconomic outcomes; and illustrate how the integration of physical therapy and a behavioral modification program can result in reduced medical and disability costs for occupational and nonoccupational injuries.

Making Integrated Disability Management Work for You

Panelists:

  • Loyd Hudson, integrated disability management manager, American Electric Power
  • Terri Rhodes, executive director, Disability Management Employer Coalition
  • Sarah von Schrader, assistant director of research of the Employment and Disability Institute, Cornell University

Reduced lost time, lower costs, and simpler processes are some of the benefits of a well-run integrated disability management program. But making the business case for IDM can be a challenge.

The speakers will offer advice to lay the groundwork for workplace policies and climate in conjunction with best practices in regulatory compliance with best practices in ADA compliance using IDM. They will offer a variety of tools, steps, and resources for an effective program and describe how American Electric Power achieved a regulatory compliant and fiscally successful IDM program. The speakers will outline the building blocks of integrated disability management, demonstrate how to build a successful IDM program, and review research on RTW and ADA and the aging workplace and how they impact IDM.

How Diversity Impacts Workers’ Compensation and Disability Strategies

Speakers:

    • Jennifer De La Torre, executive director of workforce diversity, AT&T
    • Elizabeth Demaret, executive vice president, chief customer relationship officer, Sedgwick
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The increasing diversity in today’s workforce is impacting the way companies conduct business. Workers today exhibit a range of differences in age, race, religion, gender, and physical abilities with each individual providing a unique contribution to the products and services delivered. The speakers will address some of the diversity shifts in the workforce and offer strategies for employers to manage these differences. Additionally, they will examine the impact diversity has on workers’ comp and disability programs. Finally, the two will outline ways employers can capitalize on diversity and improve productivity.

For more information, visit NWCDC’s website. To post your thoughts on the conference, join LinkedIn’s National Workers Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo.

Nancy Grover is co-Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference and Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at riskletters@lrp.com.
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NWCDC Preview

NWCDC Legal/Regulatory Solutions Track Preview

Breakout sessions for the Legal/Regulatory Solutions track of the 2014 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® cover temps, ethics, and exclusive remedy.
By: | August 18, 2014 • 4 min read
Topics: NWC&DC | Workers' Comp

The 23rd annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo takes place Nov. 19-21 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The confer­ence is produced by LRP Publications, which also publishes Risk & Insurance®.

ConferenceHere’s a preview of the breakout sessions for the Legal/Regulatory Solutions track of the 2014 National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference®.

Turning the Workers’ Comp Settlement Into a Global Settlement: Tackling the General Release and Resignation

Speakers:

  • Jeffrey A. Kadis, partner, Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP
  • Bill Wainscott, manager, Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health, International Paper

Employers may face federal and state lawsuits if they apply the wrong approach when discussing employment separation with an injured employee whose workers’ comp claim is being litigated. Charges of wrongful termination, discrimination, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act can be leveled against them. The speakers will discuss ways employers and their insurers or claims service providers can coordinate to properly broach the worker’s separation and how to conduct a global settlement to avoid litigation.

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They will offer ways to assess the circumstances that may allow a successful general release/resignation, discuss how to select the appropriate strategy for releasing contentious workers’ comp claimants, and address potential litigation problems when dealing with injured workers.

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Your Legal Expenses NOW

Panelists:

  • Jill Dulich, senior director, Marriott claims services
  • Richard Lenkov, partner, Bryce Downey & Lenkov LLC

Legal expenses in the workers’ comp system can be astronomical, especially in states such as California and Illinois that have high litigation expenses. It is incumbent on employers and payers to reduce and eliminate legal expenses immediately, suggest the speakers. The two will discuss ways employers can eradicate waste, cut through legal jargon, and get to the bottom line quickly.

Workers’ Compensation and Its Secondary Payers: Medicare and Medicaid.

Speakers:

  • Vernon Sumwalt, partner, The Sumwalt Law Firm
  • Tim Nay, founding principal, Law Offices of Nay & Friedenberg

Moderator:

  • Jennifer C. Jordan, general counsel, MEDVAL LLC

While the SMART Act has improved access to Medicare conditional payment information and streamlined MSP reimbursements, a new law strengthens Medicaid’s reimbursement rights, making them very similar to Medicare’s. Some experts question whether this may be the start of another trend to further enhance Medicaid’s secondary payer rights and address its future medical expenses. With the new law set to take effect October 2016, practitioners need to know if they will face long-term care expenses on top of Medicare set-asides and significant delays in settlements.

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The attorney panelists will offer all the facts and discuss the adjustments employers can make to be in the best position.

Direct and Peripheral Attacks on the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine

Speakers:

  • Deborah G. Kohl, managing partner, The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl
  • Lex K. Larson, president, Employment Law Research Inc.

Moderator:

  • Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., workcompwriter.com

The exclusive remedy doctrine serves as the foundation of the great “bargain” between employees and employers. But now, the lure of the large verdict has spawned both direct and peripheral attacks on the employer’s exclusivity defense. Questions have arisen as to whether federal RICO can be used as an end run around the exclusivity defense. If an employer denies a claim as nonwork-related, can it subsequently defend a civil suit with an exclusivity argument? Has the definition of “intentional injury” been so watered down that it is no longer a meaningful defense? The expert panelists will also discuss whether exclusivity is still a powerful tool for the employer. They will also evaluate the dangers of taking a legal position on a small claim that can be later used against the employer in a much larger tort action and discuss ways to recognize the types of employer/carrier activity that undermine the defense.

Ethics for HR Specialists, Risk Managers, and Claims Adjusters

Speaker:

  • Eugene F. Keefe, partner, Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates

The role of ethics in claims handling cannot be underestimated. For example, an employer may end up bearing responsibility for a vendor who acts in bad faith. Situations such as setting up Medicare set-aside accounts, dealing with HIPAA concerns, and addressing fraud should not lead to a company’s downfall. Veteran attorney Eugene Keefe will outline the risks and solutions to ethically challenging workers’ comp scenarios.

He will describe the genesis and development of ethics in the industry, review best practices for ethical handling of claims, and offer ways to recognize the risks involved when confronted with unethical decisions by others.

Temp Nation: Risks, Red Flags, and Injury Rates

Panelists:

  • Corey Berghoefer, senior vice president, Risk Management and Insurance, Randstad
  • Richard M. Jacobsmeyer, partner, Shaw, Jacobsmeyer, Crain & Claffey PC

Moderator:

  • Brad Bleakney, managing partner, Bleakney & Troiani
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The unprecedented growth of temporary workers since 2000 has picked up speed in recent years and continues to be a major trend in a stutter step economy. The speakers will examine a variety of resulting issues from temp workers’ high injury rates to underwriting workers’ comp coverage for employers using a large number of temps.

They will offer insight to interpret how employers can limit exposure when dealing with temp agencies and subcontractor contracts, manage any potential third-party liability concerns from using temp or borrowed employees, and examine case law involving the exclusive remedy doctrine when using temp or borrowed employees.

Nancy Grover is co-Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference and Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at riskletters@lrp.com.
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Sponsored: Liberty International Underwriters

A New Dawn in Civil Construction Underwriting

Civil construction projects provide utility and also help define who we are. So when it comes to managing project risk, it's critical to get it right.
By: | September 15, 2014 • 5 min read
SponsoredContent_LIU

Pennsylvania school children know the tunnels on the Pennsylvania Turnpike by name — Blue Mountain, Kittatinny, Tuscarora, and Allegheny.

San Francisco owes much of its allure to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Delaware Memorial Bridge commemorates our fallen soldiers.

Our public sector infrastructure is much more than its function as a path for trucks and automobiles. It is part of our national and regional identity.

Yet it’s widely known that much of our infrastructure is inadequate. Given the number of structures designated as substandard, the task ahead is substantial.

The Civil Construction projects that can meet these challenges, however, carry a unique set of risks compared to other forms of construction.

SponsoredContent_LIU“The bottom line is that there is always risk in a Civil Construction project. If the parties involved don’t understand what risk they carry, then the chances are there are going to be some problems, and the insurers would ideally like to understand the potential for these problems in advance.”
– Paul Hampshire, Vice President – Civil Construction, LIU

The good news is that recent developments in construction standards and risk management techniques provide a solid foundation for the type and risk allocation of Civil Construction projects they are underwriting. Carriers need to be able to adequately assess the client and design and construction teams that are involved.

For Builder’s Risk Programs, a successful approach prioritizes a focus on four key factors. These factors are looked at not only during the underwriting phase of the project but also in the all-important site construction phase, under the umbrella of a Risk Management Program, or RMP.

Four key factors

Four key factors that LIU focuses on in underwriting and providing risk management services on a Civil Construction project include:

1. Resource knowledge and experience: When creating a coverage plan, carriers work to understand who is delivering the project and how well suited key staff members are to addressing the project’s technical and management challenges. Research has shown that the knowledge and experience of those key players, combined with their ability to communicate effectively, is a big factor in the project’s success.

“We look to understand who is delivering a project, their expertise and experience in delivering projects of similar technical complexity in similar working conditions, even down to looking at the resumés of people in key positions,” said Paul Hampshire, Houston-based Vice President with Liberty International Underwriters.

2. Ground conditions and water: Soil and rock composition, the influence of ground and surface water, and foundation stability are key additional considerations in the construction of bridges, tunnels, and transit systems. If a suitable level of relevant ground (geotechnical) investigation and study has not been undertaken, or the results of such work not clearly interpreted, then it’s a red flag to underwriters, who would then question whether the project risk profile has been adequately evaluated and risks clearly and transparently allocated via suitable contract conditions.

SponsoredContent_LIU“As we all know, ground is very rarely a homogenous element within Civil Construction projects,” LIU’s Hampshire said.

“It tends to vary from any proposed geotechnical baseline specification with the consequential potential for changes in behavior during construction. We need to understand who has assessed the condition of the ground, its behavior and design parameters when compared with a particular method of construction, and all importantly, who has been allocated the ground risk in a project and the upfront mechanisms for contractual ground risk sharing, if applicable,” he said.

Knowing how much water is associated with the in-situ ground conditions as well as the intensity, distribution and adequate accommodation (both in the temporary as well as in the permanent project configurations) of rainfall for a site location and topography are also key. Tunneling projects, for example, can be hampered by the presence of too much or unforeseen quantities of groundwater.

“In major tunneling infrastructure projects, the influence of in-situ groundwater pressures and /or water inflows is a major factor when considering the choice of excavation method and sequence as well as tunnel lining design requirements,” LIU’s Hampshire said.

According to a recent article in Risk & Insurance, tunneling under a body of water is one of the most challenging risk engineering feats. Adequate drainage layouts and their installation sequence for highway projects and, in particular, the protection of sub-grade works are also important. “But under all circumstances, we need to understand how the water conditions have been evaluated,” Hampshire said.

3. Technical Challenges: This risk factor encompasses the assessment of the technical novelty or prototypical nature of the project (or more often, specific elements of it) and how well the previously demonstrated experience of both the design and construction teams aligns with the project’s technical requirements and the form of contract determined for the project. The client can choose the team, but savvy underwriters will conduct their own assessment to see how well-suited the team is to technical demands of the project.

4. Evaluation of Time and Cost: With limited information generally provided, we need to be able to verify as best as possible the adequacy of both the time and cost elements of the project. Our belief is simply that projects that are insufficient in either one or both of these elements potentially pose an increased risk, as the construction consortium tries to compensate for these deficiencies during construction.

SponsoredContent_LIU
Small diameter Tunnel Boring Machine designed for mixed ground conditions and water pressures in excess of 2.5 bar.

New standards

In the 1990s and early years of this millennium, a series of high-profile tunnel failures across the globe resulted in major losses for Civil Construction underwriters and their insureds.

In the early 2000s, both the tunnel and insurance industries worked together to create new standards for high-risk tunneling projects.

A Code of Practice for the Risk Management of Tunnel Works (TCoP) is increasingly relied on by project managers and underwriters to define the best practices in tunnel construction projects. This process ideally starts at project inception (conceptual design stage or equivalent) and continues to the hand-over of the completed project.

LIU’s Hampshire said alongside TCoP, the project-specific Geotechnical Baseline Report and its interpretation and reference within the project contract conditions gives the underwriter greater clarity as to who recognizes and carries the ground risk and how it’s allocated.

“The bottom line is that there is always risk in a Civil Construction project,” Hampshire said. “Is the risk transparently allocated or is it buried? If the parties involved don’t understand what risk they carry, then the chances are there are going to be some problems, and the insurers would ideally like to understand the potential for these problems in advance,” Hampshire said.

Paul Hampshire can be reached at Paul.Hampshire@libertyiu.com.

To learn more about how Liberty International Underwriters can help you conduct a Civil Construction risk assessment before your next project, contact your broker.

This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty International Underwriters. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.

LIU is part of the Global Specialty Division of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
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