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Group effort cuts workers’ compensation premiums

When Tami Goody took over as county commission administrator seven years ago, the county’s workers’ compensation premium was close to $700,000.

This year the bill for the premium has come in at $332,506.74 and next year is expected to be even lower yet.

Just as the City of Ironton recently reported a 50 percent cut in its premium, so has Lawrence County, all from instituting a variety of cost programs.

“We have saved some money by starting a safety team,” Goody said. “Employees from different departments come together to discuss safety concerns and what to do better. And we go out and analyze any kind of accident that may have happened, make suggestions and changes on how things could be done.”

Employees are now transitioned back to work. While they may not be able to return to their regular job right away they can work at less strenuous jobs until they are able to be back to their department.

Goody also got each department to start managing its own claims by having the premium amortized over each department’s budget according to the number of claim each had.

“Charging back is beginning to be more popular for counties to do,” she said. “A charge back is done off a merit rate. If you go over so many days, that is when your claim costs a lot of lost days. Ours is really down. We very seldom have a lost time.”

On top of the premium cuts, the county now also gets a group retro rebate starting with last year’s rebate of $70,413.

Next year’s premium should be the lowest in a decade as the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation says the county is expecting to come in 13 percent below what the BWC expects in claims for all counties.

“That is huge,” Goody said. “Now departments are paying for claims. If they don’t manage claims, if they don’t get that person back to work and don’t keep their place safe for their employees, they will have a high premium and that will come out of their budget.”