A program established at multiple Costco Wholesale Corp. warehouses has resulted in demonstrable successes, which the speakers will explain during the session. Using Costco's success as a framework, they plan to show attendees how to develop a new approach to preventing injuries.
"We're an industry that primarily, and sometimes to our detriment, focuses too much on what happens after an employee gets injured," said Jody Thompson, vice president of marketing and sales for California-based PreCare, which helped design Costco's program. The speakers have statistics showing the differences in facilities where the prevention programs have been used, versus those where they have not.A key feature is the return-to-work element, which they will explain.
Thompson said the key to developing such a program is to first ask "Am I doing everything possible to prevent injuries to my workforce?" If not, be open to finding a different approach. The session is included in the new Strategic View track designed for the CFO, risk manager, and other decision-makers concerned with the big picture and developing strategies.
Identify at-risk employees. Costco's program is intended to identify at-risk employees and prevent injuries from the start. It's a process that involves onsite prevention, onsite physical therapy treatment, and return-to-work coaching.
The program "addresses an employee who's having discomfort but has not sustained an injury yet," Thompson said. "Through a process of early intervention screening, we help identify the cause of the pain and look at their jobs tasks to see if they need to do anything differently to minimize the risk of injury."
The results have been impressive. In Washington state, for example, Costco warehouses not using the prevention program averaged 53 percent of workers' claims that were indemnity, or lost time, while warehouses using the aggressive prevention program had average indemnity claims of 13 percent. There have also been notable results on the duration of claims.
An important element of the program is ensuring that workers who have sustained injuries don't reinjure themselves. Costco's program includes return-to-work coaching, where clinicians ensure an injured employee does not engage in activities that could reverse the healing progress. "By using body mechanics training in a real, live work environment, employees move efficiently back to full duty with low reinjury rates," Thompson said.
The strategies employed at Costco are not geared just to larger companies. Thompson believes decision-makers at midsized companies will also see value in the strategic approach.
"This strategic view track is inviting decision-makers, managers, leaders of workers' comp claims processes to come and see what Costco is doing that's different," he said. "It's all about prevention. If you can prevent claims, you're saving money. If you can reduce the duration of claims, you will also save money."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 25, 2010
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