A corporation with more than 150,000 employees, 5,000 facilities and multiple subsidiaries might be expected to phone in their workers' comp program. The obstacles to organizing a program across such a massive organization are daunting.
But the company in the spotlight, AT&T Inc., is devoted to just that--designing and integrating a safety and workers' comp program for all of its employees. AT&T's program has found success, and a Teddy Award runner-up, in only a couple years.
"We took a hard look at our workers' comp numbers in November 2003 and were disturbed by the trend showing an increasing frequency and severity of claims," writes Ron Walton, director of risk management for the telecom giant, in comments submitted in the application for the annual Theodore Roosevelt Workers' Compensation & Disability Awards.
To turn those numbers around, the company launched the AT&T Work-Safe System and formed a core team to see it through. The team pulled together representatives from risk management, human resources and safety.
In 2004, the team targeted 21 high-risk facilities where training could drive down claims. It was no coincidence that, after managers at the sites received the training, the incident rate dropped by 36 percent alone.
It called for an ergonomic evaluation on all cumulative trauma cases--in a two-week turnaround. Roughly 2,500 requests for evaluations were done in 2004, and another 3,500 in 2005.
The team also homed in on claims that could be best managed. They established an aggressive return-to-work program with corporate attendance goals to drive performance.
"The story is complex," Walton writes about AT&T's experience since 2003, "but the accumulating results in terms of worker recoveries, productivity gains and cost savings have been dramatic."
November 1, 2006
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