Sunday: Tulsa works to reduce high workers comp cost
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor and CURTIS KILLMAN World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 09, 2013
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and other city officials say they are trying to repair the “three-legged stool” that forms the wobbly foundation of the city’s high workers compensation costs.
The city’s cost of caring for and compensating injured employees has been high for years, studies have shown.
The question city leaders face now is how to fix the problem.
A safety steering committee has been meeting monthly to come up with new ways to instill a culture of safety among city employees. Members of the police and fire unions and other large employee groups are on the committee.
Bartlett said the city’s high workers compensation costs, compared to those of other cities, affect taxpayers as well as employees.
“With our employees, their families assume that when the breadwinner leaves in the morning at the beginning of their shift and comes to work here, they are going to come home in the same condition, and a lot of times they don’t, and that’s not good,” Bartlett said. “It’s terrible for the employee, for the individual, obviously. It’s terrible for their families, and it’s terrible for the taxpayer.”
A Tulsa World analysis of five years of data from workers compensation court found that the city of Tulsa ranks fourth statewide in the total amount awarded to injured workers: $16.96 million.
The city of Oklahoma City, with about 1,300 more employees, had almost an identical amount of total awards in workers compensation court: $16.98 million. The city of Oklahoma City ranked third-highest in the state in total awards during the period — 2007 through 2011 — among public or private employers.
Read more in Sunday's World.
Dr. Phillip Berry works on a city of Tulsa park department employee. City officials are trying to figure out how to better control workers comp costs. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World