Tulsa hires workers compensation consultant
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
12/10/12 at 11:29 AM
Read continuing coverage of the KPMG study.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Tuesday that a consultant hired this week can help the city of Tulsa cut its workers compensation costs by half.
The city spent nearly $9 million on workers comp in the last budget year and has spent $27.4 million over the past three years. The 2011 figure represented a 44 percent increase from 2003.
"Our workers comp costs are extremely high - very, very high, especially compared to many of our peer cities," said Bartlett, citing a KPMG review of the city's operations.
"This is not something that has not been recognized by our city over the past several years," Bartlett said. "We've tried. For some reason it just hasn't quite clicked yet."
Bartlett said the city signed a $71,000 contract with DuPont Sustainable Solutions, a division of the global chemical company. The consultants are expected to begin work by the end of the month and produce a report within two months.
Once known as Coastal Training Technologies, the company formerly worked with the city of Houston and the Los Angeles Transit Authority to improve worker safety and training.
Based on those results, Bartlett said, "I believe we can expect a 50 percent reduction over a three- to five-year period."
Bartlett produced statistics showing Tulsa with consistently higher rates of reported workplace injuries than Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.
Local governments normally have relatively high rates of workplace injury because of high-risk occupations such as law enforcement, firefighting and public works.
Even so, Tulsa's injury incident rates, especially for police and fire, have been unusually high in recent years.
Bartlett said he thinks the rates may reflect "cultural" differences that have affected safety.
"What I believe this company can do for us is change a cultural problem that we have," he said.
"We need to educate with best practices. We need to bring all parties ... We all need to buy into the concept that safety pays."
The Tulsa World reported in November that the city's injury incident rate for 2011 was 25.6 per 100 workers - meaning one reported injury for every four employees.
That compared to a national local government average of 6.1.
The Tulsa Police Department's rate was 2 1/2 times the national average for law enforcement, and the Fire Department's was 4 times the national rate, with more than one injury for every two firefighters.
The city's workers compensation claims are paid through a combination of self-insurance and the sinking fund - a property tax-funded account set aside for judgments and debt payments.
If the sinking fund obligations rise faster than the city's assessed property value, as it has in recent years, millage rates are adjusted upward to make up the difference.
The city typically pays $2 million to $5 million a year from the sinking fund for workers compensation expenses.
Original Print Headline: Workers comp consultant hired
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Mayor Dewey Bartlett discusses a plan to reduce Tulsa's workers compensation costs at City Hall on Tuesday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World