Check it Out: WCI’s Annual Conference Comes to Town


By Dara Barney

Orlando, FL ( - It is that time of year again: The Workers’ Compensation Institute’s (WCI) Annual Conference starts Sunday, Aug. 6 and goes through Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the Marriott World Center Resort & Convention Center. There are many different tracks and topics to choose from, and has taken the time to cover a few of the sessions, with some input from speakers.

For more information regarding the agenda, visit Watch for post-event coverage here, including more sessions.


Of the listed speakers, spoke with Penny Morey, HR Professional  at RemarkABLE HR, Inc.; and Elizabeth Bradshaw, Victim Advocate, Special Victims Unit for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Both women are based out of Florida.

“Our goals are to help companies figure out not only what they can do, but what they should do in regard to reducing domestic violence. What policies are in place, how does the workplace culture react, how do you get victims help, and how do you get perpetrators help if they come forward?” Morey said. “…Five states have leave programs for someone involved in a domestic violence, out of 50. But the victim still needs to keep earning money, they can’t just leave work.”

Bradshaw spoke to the fact that a lot of action takes places after an event, instead of before.

“We want to prevent it. Domestic violence can be considered a private issue, but let’s get the conversation going. Let’s look at handbooks, policies and training. Do something before tragedy hits, and maybe prevent it,” she said.

Of the listed speakers, Christine Harter, Mediator from the Mediation & Dispute Resolution Center in Florida, responded to via email.

“…The advertising methods of ad placement in phone books, on mail flyers and on bill boards may be considered 'old school advertising' by many. Particularly, when the majority of those around us carry cell phones and search for everything from the location of a new culinary hot spot, to the closest gas station to how to fix their kitchen sink,” she said. “So how does a firm gain, maintain and retain a competitive edge in this generation of techies? (sic) The answer is, by understanding this generation, accepting this generation and by going to the source that feeds this generation. In doing so, a firm is most likely to remain relevant, competitive and profitable. Visibility through resources such as Google, Facebook and SEOs are just a few methods we will discuss. In addition, we will delve into practical, ethical and cost effective considerations when utilizing technology and social media.”


Of the listed speakers, interviewed Honorable R. Karl Aumann, Chairman of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission; Honorable T. Scott Beck of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission; and Abbie Hudgens, Administrator for the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Commission.

“This session is going to be driven in part by the participants. We want to answer questions, cover different topics, and address today’s political challenges,” Aumann said. “…I think there is going to be a lot of questions on how to handle the media. You need to have plans in place agency-wide, and division-wide. Unanswered phone calls or ‘unable to reach for comment’ is a big issue.”

Beck looks at the session as a dialogue as well.

“This is an opportunity to have an open exchange about the inter-relationship between the Political, Judicial, and Executive aspects of the Workers’ (sic) Compensation system through the use of scenarios and potential methods for resolving real or perceived conflicts,” he said via email.

Hudgens said there might be a few entertaining scenarios she hopes will help audience members in the future.

“The audience will include regulators primarily. There are several factors that make understanding how to navigate political challenges an important part of a regulators function. Workers’ compensation statutes result from the actions of elected officials. Elected officials are interested in the thoughts and concerns of their constituents,” Hudgens said via email. “The top executive position in a state is an elected official, also. Cabinet officers and many regulators serve at the pleasure of elected officials. The actions of any government body is impacted by the views and actions of the multiplicity of interests that exist. To do a good job as a regulator, a person needs to be aware of the various viewpoints and interests in order to chart the proper path forward for their program.”

Paul E. Spector, Professor at the University of South Florida, told that he became interested in this topic after studying human aggression, which evolved into workplace aggression, and it grew from there.

“From a workers’ comp perspective, there is a vulnerability here. Psychological mistreatment can turn into traumatic stress and/or depression. Depression is the most expensive to employers, because it recycles,” he said.

Spector will cover frequency, incident rates, statistics, and interventions involved with this topic. 

“There needs to be an employer and an employee awareness. Policies and practices need to be in place, and supervisors/employers need to be trained to know how to diffuse the situation. Sometimes it can be as easy as leaving the room to get someone who is higher up, or treating the person very carefully,” Spector said.

Of the listed speakers, Kelly Bernish, Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Certified Occupational Safety Specialist (COSS) at Global SHE Solutions, LLC in Colorado, told, “It is a safety session. Many people have cross functional jobs where they may be responsible for workers’ (sic) comp, safety, security, risk management or any combination thereof.”

She predicted questions from the audience might involve surprise drills, how to communicate best, and how to handle a situation post-event.

“We want people to be able to think about how the inform their employee populations to be prepared should an unexpected security event happen without causing panic or paranoia,” she said.


Attorney Timothy D. Crawley of Anderson, Crawley & Burke, PLLC out of Mississippi said via email, “Drones — in the workplace, and used for observation of injured workers — are they for you, as an employer, a carrier, or a TPA? (sic) What are the practical uses as well as concerns raised by their use in the workers' compensation setting — and how can you best protect and insulate yourself from exposure/risk related to drone use?” 

He also hoped for a few takeaways: “… (1) How can Drones be useful in handling workers’ compensation claims? (2) What are the potential risks posed by using drones in work comp investigation? (sic) And (3) how can you best protect yourself against added risks posed by the use of drones in comp?” 


Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


There currently are no comments on this entry.

Advertise with WCI