Comp costs could be improved
BY World's Editorials Writers
Thursday, October 18, 2012
10/18/12 at 3:31 AM
City officials once again are scratching their heads over a significant increase in workers compensation costs after those costs had declined a bit for several years.
Workers compensation costs have been a big problem for the city off and on for decades. Obviously it's not possible to entirely control these costs, but the city ought to be able to do better, especially given the fact much can be learned from history. This isn't rocket science.
Total payments on comp claims rose more than 12 percent in the fiscal year that ended this past summer, to more than $9.9 million. That significant increase occured despite a drop in the number of claims being paid and/or lost time resulting from injuries.
Even though costs had declined a bit in recent years - from a recent high of more than $10 million in 2009 - they still hovered around $9 million in the last few years, which isn't anything to shout about.
Comp costs generally have risen over the past decade, from a low of about $5 million in 2003.
The city's comp administrator, Pam Marrs, said the increase occurred because "medical costs have just been on the rise."
She said of the 1,426 job-related injuries reported in fiscal 2012, 699 resulted in payments and/or lost time, a reduction of more than 11 percent from FY 2011.
City officials recently hired a consultant to look into the cost issues, whose report urged the city to launch an aggressive safety program.
Yet, to date, that hasn't happened. Taxpayers have to wonder why a cost-saving measure that seems relatively simple as well as effective has yet to be adopted, especially when saving money and improving efficiency seem to be top political objectives these days.
"There has been a lot of discussion here the last year," said Marrs. "We haven't officially kicked off the safety program, but a lot of the departments have started some things on their own."
How about we wrap up the talking phase of this issue and get on to the implementation phase? Proven safety programs are easily identified and should be just as easily adopted.
Marrs noted that city leaders "haven't really held departments accountable for safety." There's really no excuse for that.
Original Print Headline: Safety and savings