The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 6, 2013

Fayette schools save on workers' comp

FAYETTEVILLE — Workers’ compensation insurance rates continue to fall for Fayette County Schools, spelling good news for the county’s bottom line.

Last year, the county saved approximately $125,000 in insurance costs. This year, that amount was a comparable $120,000.

“This saved total of $245,000 can be put to use on other things instead of sending it to an insurance company,” said Ron Cantley, Fayette County Schools director of operations.

“Just like energy savings that we put into new equipment with our energy management contract, this type of activity represents resources that help the school system without going to the taxpayers for additional funds.”

Cantley credits the savings to a Return To Work Policy, a falling accident rate and excellent teamwork across the entire county.

Mike Lively of Lively Insurance presented the savings to the board of education at its June meeting, congratulating the school system all the way from the employees to the superintendent.

Lively said the three-year effort to lower rates is finally paying dividends.

“It’s been a tremendous effort to get to this place,” he said. “It’s not a fluke and it doesn’t magically happen. It’s a lot of hard work.”

The Return To Work Policy is designed to get injured employees back to work as quickly as possible. It lets injured employees know that the school system appreciates their work and wants them to be back on the job and productive, according to Lively.

Return To Work programs reduce costs by providing the opportunity for injured workers to be a part of the workforce while they recover from injuries. The program uses modified work assignments during the recovery process, depending on the physical capability of the injured worker.

“It also keeps their morale up. They still get up in the morning and come to work,” said Lively.

If the employee comes back to work, it helps eliminate some of the workers’ compensation claim payments for lost time.

The county’s “E-Mod,” a premium modifier based on accident history, is now 0.95, slightly better than the average mark of 1.0.

The figure was previously almost double what it should be, resulting in a hefty penalty paid in premiums. This year, the below-average figure means a discount.

“As a local graduate, I would much rather see premium dollars lower and education dollars up,” said Lively.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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