Safety Pays in Indiana


By Joan E. Collier

Anyone who still thinks that safety doesn’t pay needs to talk to employees at Indiana’s Portage Township School system.

The school district includes eight elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school.

A few years ago, school officials couldn’t find anyone willing to write their workers’ compensation coverage. Claims were passing the $1 million mark, and carriers said “no thanks.” Left with little choice, the district went the self-insurance route and hired a third party administrator to oversee the program. 

Officials also decided to do something about the district’s dismal claim and workplace injury numbers. 

They created a districtwide plan around one powerful message: ABC—Always Be Careful. The plan’s four key elements were awareness, training, accountability, and recognition. The program was led by a safety team made up of people from every employee location and classification. Monthly meetings kept the team on track.

The result? In 2015, the district recorded just $154,000 in workers’ compensation claims costs, the second lowest total in eight years. The number of claims also dropped significantly.

Superintendent Richard Weigel is so pleased that he wants the school board to approve a one-time stipend of $107.50 to all district employees as a giant “thank you.” The board is expected to act on his recommendation at its Jan. 25 meeting. Hopefully the board will do the math on this and give it a thumbs up.

(Read more Work Comp Nation blogs here.)

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