Employees of the Vienna Department of Public Works were recognized in December for their role in helping the town achieve a dramatic decrease in work-related injuries.
Nancy McMahon, director of administrative services for the northern Virginia town, noted a substantial decrease in overall workers’ compensation costs, and a decrease in the number of claims. Town Manager Mercury Payton congratulated the assembled employees for their overall safety record that he said reflects positively on the town as a whole.
The financial impact of these efforts is substantial. Due to the decreased claims costs, the town’s workers’ compensation premium with VML Insurance Programs (VMLIP) will decrease by more than $50,000 in the coming policy year. The most important result, however, is that fewer employees are getting hurt, which in turn improves workforce morale and productivity.
The financial benefit experienced by the town was shared with employees. Each employee in the department received a check for $75. The drawing was followed by a pizza lunch.
It is no accident that losses in Vienna have decreased. Fonda Craig, a safety consultant with VMLIP, pointed to an incident involving a rodder truck used for maintaining sewer lines as an example of the aggressive steps the town is willing to take to improve safety. Following a serious incident involving the truck that injured an employee, the town solicited specialty training from Tilson & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in wastewater collection system operations and training. VMLIP was able to assist with funding the training through its popular Risk Management Grant program.
Vienna has consistently shown a willingness to address safety issues that have led to losses or that posed potential losses. It does so through sound safety policy development, training and education, and accountability. In addition, the town has taken advantage of many of the safety resources offered by VMLIP, according to Craig Schlemmer, training officer for the Vienna Public Works Department.
“As a result of this kind of approach, the public works employees in Vienna are much better prepared to navigate the hazards they face during the course of their work day,” said Beth Rosenthal, VMLIP’s director of safety. “Property damage and injuries are minimized. It’s quite an accomplishment.”
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