In This Issue


Taking Progressive Actions to Reduce
Workers’ Compensation Costs
and Injuries

Robert H. Watson, Jr. Research
and Information Center

The Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission and the Tennessee
Human Rights Commission

Accident Investigation is Injury Prevention

Fire Extinguisher Inspections


Tennessee Trivia

Q. Who held every elective office at the local, state and federal level, including president of the United States?

Click Here for the Answer

Message from the President

Dawn Greetings,

We have some exciting news to share with you! This summer, Public Entity Partners will host its first annual Risk and Insurance Symposium.

The objectives of the symposium are to help participants:

  • Identify current best practices and resources in public entity risk management;
  • Enhance public protection in their communities;
  • Improve the safety and welfare of municipal employees; and
  • Expand their network of professional safety peers.

Sessions include a riveting story of a man who was buried in a trench collapse and lived to tell about it. He details the lessons learned, and challenges participants to take personal responsibility for risk management and safety. This is a story you will not want to miss.

The information below details the various conditions and terminology used by the NOAA/National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center:

Other presentations include sessions on:

  • Drones;
  • Accident investigation;
  • Laws, policies and exposure evaluation for privacy and network liability;
  • Open records, including requests for police videos and dash cams;
  • A defensive driving course offered through the National Safety Council;
  • And many more …

Watch your emails for more information to come in the following weeks. We hope to see you this summer!

As we enjoy the beauty, warmth and sunshine that spring brings, let us all stay tuned — and stay safe.

Best Regards,
signature
Dawn R. Crawford
President/CEO

 

Taking Progressive Actions to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs and Injuries

The City of Kingston, Tennessee has done a great job of implementing an effective risk management program. Rick Ross, safety director and director of parks and recreation, describes below how the city had been dealing with a track record of workers’ compensation loss.

When David Bolling accepted the city manager’s position in 2013, Kingston had losses exceeding its premium in three of four prior policy periods. In the search to discover why, he immediately requested loss data, prior loss-control survey reports, and a description of the risk management policies and strategies currently in place. Within a few months of his arrival, Bolling also requested on-site training in risk essentials for key city personnel from Public Entity Partners’s Loss Control staff.

Once the central tenets of the risk management program were described, department heads were held financially accountable for accidents and claims originating in their departments. This administrative focus provided Ross with the support he needed to implement an effective safety program.

The city has utilized many of the tools Public Entity Partners provides, including consultation and on-site training with Loss Control, as well as training on PoolShare, our online dashboard, with Member Services. PoolShare allows the city to keep up with claims and track loss trends. In addition, the city has applied for and received PE Partner-sponsored PRIMA scholarships and safety grants.

The City of Kingston is an excellent example of the positive changes that occur when a member partners with our staff to help control losses. Ross’ guest column below demonstrates just how far they have come.

Are your losses out of control? Public Entity Partners has resources that can help you.

Guest Columnist: Rick Ross, City of Kingston Safety Director and Director of Parks and Recreation

The City of Kingston has had a rough few years with regard to employee injuries and workers’ compensation claims. These claims were taking a significant toll on the city’s resources, manpower and finances.

All of the city’s departments participated in regular safety training and meetings, but none of those efforts contributed to a decrease in claims. We took a closer look at the nature and the circumstances surrounding these claims, and in many incidents, it was just a matter of skipped safety steps or complacency in repetitive work.

For a city our size, these instances were causing financial hardship and placing a strain on our workforce. It occurred to us that no amount of required training, videos or safety posters was going to make a difference unless supervisors and department heads reinforced the core messaging, but the loudest message to department heads needed to come from the bottom line of their budgets!

To help remedy this, we built in a safety initiative program that put extra funds in the department’s budgets. This offset an initial workers’ compensation deductible, but if the money was not used for that purpose, it could then be used toward extra equipment for the department.

We then stressed to the department heads the importance of taking ownership and accountability of their own departments’ safety programs, and of striving for the least amount of claims possible. Sadly, in years past, accidents were almost expected and did not seem preventable — as many actually are. This shift in attitude, combined with an incentive program, led to one of the biggest drops in claims our city has ever seen. In one year’s time, we went from 18 significant claims to three, reflecting a 2.76 percent loss ratio under workers’ compensation coverage.

None of this would have been possible without the commitment, leadership and daily efforts of the City of Kingston department heads and their employees working together to achieve this goal.

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Robert H. Watson, Jr. Research and Information Center

watsonPictured from left to right are Jim Thomas, MTAS executive director; Dawn R. Crawford, president/CEO of Public Entity Partners; Pat Watson, wife of Robert Watson, Jr.; and Herb Byrd, III, vice president of IPS.

The Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) has dedicated its library in honor of Robert Watson, Jr., a longtime advocate for municipalities across the state. Robert passed away in 2015 after an extensive career advocating for Tennessee municipal government. The new MTAS offices include training space, a work area for consultants, and a state-of-the-art research library.

“I am touched that Robert’s contributions across the state can be recognized and remembered through the research library,” shared Dawn Crawford, president/CEO of Public Entity Partners. “Robert represented members throughout Tennessee and fought on behalf of local government.”

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the

Tennessee Human Rights Commission

Do you know what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is? Did you know that the EEOC can potentially file a discrimination lawsuit against your entity if they find you are discriminating against your employees?

Have you heard of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission?

Both the EEOC and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission are designed to educate and protect employees and job applicants from discriminatory and retaliatory practices. The EEOC is a federal commission and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission is a state authority. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee on the basis of a protected class, including a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Discriminating against protected classes is never a good idea and, in most cases, is against the law. According to the EEOC, if you have any employees at all, the local government is subject to federal law prohibiting age discrimination. In addition, if you have more than 15 employees, odds are that you are subject to the numerous federal anti-discrimination laws that the EEOC is tasked with enforcing.

If an employee files a charge with the EEOC alleging their employer has violated his or her employment rights due to his or her status in a protected class, the EEOC will investigate that charge, and depending on the outcome of that investigation, can file suit against your entity. If the Tennessee Human Rights Commission or the EEOC make you aware that a complaint has been filed against your entity, you should immediately notify Public Entity Partners’s Claims Department by filing a claim. Any response to an EEOC complaint should come through the Claims Department in order to maintain coverage through your employment practices liability coverage.

Allegations and charges of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation should be taken very seriously. As soon as you are aware of an official complaint filed by an employee with the EEOC or the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, you should file a claim with Public Entity Partners.

To reduce your entity’s exposure to EEOC complaints, and/or other allegations of discrimination or harassment, each public entity should follow appropriate, professional human resources management practices and policies. Specific questions should be directed to your regional loss control consultant or Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) human resources management consultant. Another good resource is Public Entity Partners’s Loss Control Guideline on Employment Liability, which can be accessed via the member-secured portal on our website or requested from the Loss Control Department.

For more information about the EEOC or the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, please visit http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/ or https://www.tn.gov/humanrights/topic/overview.

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Accident Investigation is Injury Prevention

Conducting regular safety inspections, correcting hazards, holding frequent safety meetings, and appraising employees on their safety performance are important methods of preventing injuries. Accident investigations also play an important role in the prevention of injuries and illness in the workplace.

When employees are injured in accidents or become ill because of their work, conduct thorough safety inspections to determine:

  • What conditions and/or actions caused an injury or illness;
  • Whether similar incidents have occurred before; and
  • What equipment, procedures and/or training changes could prevent future incidents.

Evaluate situations that lead to stress-related claims and objectively consider:

  • Workload, deadline and other pressures;
  • General morale;
  • Other signs of employee stress in the department; and
  • Whether your attitude or expectations are contributing to stress.

Take all necessary steps to correct any conditions that caused an incident. For example, repair or replace equipment, change procedures, conduct training, and reduce workloads. Follow up regularly to ensure that corrective action has been implemented, and that safety and health conditions are improved.

Here are important points you should remember about workers' compensation:

  • Report all injuries and illness promptly;
  • Help workers file claims;
  • Maintain contact with workers on leave;
  • Help employees make the transition back to work; and
  • Help reduce claims and keep costs down by promoting safety and preventing accidents.

Source: Safety National Online Resources

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Fire Extinguisher Inspections

Have you had your fire extinguishers inspected and tagged by a certified fire safety contractor this year? Our property conservation consultants recommend that all fire extinguishers be checked on an annual basis.

Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) offer guidelines on inspection schedules and procedures. Staff members who have been properly trained on fire extinguisher inspection should perform monthly inspections on each portable fire extinguisher and keep records on the date, condition of the equipment, and individual performing the inspection.

Visit www.nfpa.org or www.osha.gov for more information about portable fire extinguishers and other fire, electrical and related hazards.

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Tennessee Trivia

Q. Who held every elective office at the local, state and federal level, including president of the United States?

A. Andrew Johnson held every elective office at the local, state and federal level, including president of the United States. He was elected alderman, mayor, state representative and state senator from Greeneville. He served as governor and military governor of Tennessee, as well as U.S. congressman, senator and vice president. He became president of the United States following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.