2017 TEDDY AWARD WINNERS
The Era of
By Michelle Kerr
The very best workers’ compensation programs are the
ones where workers aren’t just the subject of the program,
they’re a part of it.
Employee engagement, employee advocacy, employee participation — these are common threads running through the programs we honor this year in the 2017 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and
Disability Management Awards, sponsored by
A panel of judges — including workers’
comp executives who actively engage their own
employees — selected this year’s winners on the
basis of performance, sustainability, innovation
and teamwork. The winners hail from different
industries and regions, but all make people part of
the solution to unique challenges.
Valley Health System is all-too keenly aware of
the risk of violence in health care settings, running
the gamut from disruptive patients to grieving,
overwrought family members to mentally unstable
Valley Health employs a proactive and
comprehensive plan to respond to violent scenarios,
involving its Code Atlas Team — 50 members of
the clinical staff and security departments who
undergo specialized training. Valley Health drills
regularly, including intense annual active shooter
drills that involve participation from local law
The drills are unnerving for many, but the
program is making a difference — the health
system cut its workplace violence injuries in half in
the course of just one year.
“We’re looking at patient safety and employee
safety like never before,” said Barbara Schultz,
director of employee health and wellness.
At Rochester Regional Health’s five hospitals
and six long-term care facilities, a key loss driver
was slips and falls. The system’s mandatory safety
shoe program saw only moderate take-up, but the
reason wasn’t clear.
Rather than force managers to write up non-compliant employees, senior manager of workers’
compensation and employee safety Monica Manske
got proactive, using a survey as well as one-on-one communication to suss out the obstacles.
After making changes based on the feedback, shoe
compliance shot up from 35 percent to 85 percent,
contributing to a 42 percent reduction in lost-time
claims and a 46 percent reduction in injuries.
For the shoe program, as well as every RRH
safety initiative, Manske’s team takes the same
approach: engaging employees to teach and
encourage safe behaviors rather than
punishing them for lapses.
For some of this year’s Teddy winners,
success was born of the company’s willingness
to make dramatic program changes.
Delta Air Lines made two ambitious
program changes since 2013. First it adopted an
employee advocacy model for its disability and
leave of absence programs. After tasting success,
the company transitioned all lines including
workers’ compensation to an integrated absence
management program bundled under a single TPA.
While skeptics assume “employee advocacy”
means more claims and higher costs, Delta answers
with a reality that’s quite the opposite. A year after
the transition, Delta reduced open claims from
3,479 to 1,367, with its total incurred amount
decreased by $50.1 million — head and shoulders
above its projected goals.
For the Massachusetts Port Authority, change
meant ending the era of having a self-administered
program, and partnering with a TPA. It also meant
switching from a guaranteed cost program to a
self-insured program for a significant segment of its
Massport’s results make a great argument
for embracing change: The organization saved
$21 million over the past six years. Freeing up
resources allowed Massport to increase focus on
safety as well as medical management, and chopped
its medical costs per claim in half — even while
allowing employees to choose their own health care
Risk & Insurance® congratulates the 2017 Teddy
Award winners and holds them in high esteem for
their tireless commitment to a safe workforce that’s
fully engaged in its own care. &
MICHELLE KERR is an associate editor with Risk &
Insurance®. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.