At Tuesday’s meeting of the Raleigh County Board of Education, Safety Director Jennifer Colvin shared the success of this year’s proactive safety policies and procedures to reduce workers compensation costs.

At this time last year, there had been 51 claims filed. This year there have been 36, she said.

Total incurred costs, medical and lost time, was $284,000 at this time last year. This year they have incurred $98,000, said Colvin.

Colvin said the number of workers who have filed repeat claims has also significantly dropped.

She pointed out that working with Travelers Insurance has been a welcome change.

“For example, of the 36 claims we have, only 15 of them are currently open. We met with them and went over each claim and talked about where they are at and where we are at. They have been a pleasure to work with,” she said.

Travelers Insurance declined the county’s account in 2010 but accepted it for this academic year after Colvin initiated new policies and safety trainings.

She said that by using Travelers system she is able to access detailed notes on each claim and is able to know, “we are all on the same page, working for the same goal.”

Moreover, Colvin is one of 60 individuals chosen by Travelers to attend a conference in March to learn how to better use their system on a daily basis for improved results.

The safety director has already started using accident alerts, which are sent to each school’s administration weekly. The alerts are then posted in the school and state what the injury was, what position the injured held, what happened and how it can be prevented.

“We have gotten good feedback about this. They bring awareness and when employees notice that a custodian in another school has had a similar injury, it helps us identify trends sooner,” she said.

Additionally, Colvin is planning to become a certified playground inspector.

Currently, she explained, the board’s resource for a certified inspector is the state Board of Risk but they don’t currently have someone who is certified.

Board President Richard Snuffer noted that Raleigh County has never had a centralized system or standardization of playgrounds. Each school has traditionally been in charge of deciding what they want.

As Colvin begins to look at the 19 elementary school playgrounds in the county, she hopes to find ways to make them safer and to standardize them. She also expects that bundling the schools together will increase the boards purchasing power and reduce costs.

Also during the meeting, the board approved a contract with the WV School Board Association to assist Raleigh County in conducting a search for a new county superintendent.

In April 2011, Superintendent Dr. Charlotte Hutchens announced this would be her last year before retiring from the position.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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