Portage Township Schools

Adults learn their A-B-C’s as well

2013-03-31T00:00:00Z Adults learn their A-B-C’s as wellThomas L. Taylor, Assistant Superintendent, Portage Township Schools nwitimes.com

We are all familiar with the A-B-C song and how it contributes to children learning their A-B-C’s.

The Portage Township School system has implemented an A-B-C acronym for all of our employees. A-B-C stands for Always Be Careful. It is the base slogan for our employee safety program.

The employee safety program was put in place two years ago after the school system experienced an alarming increase in workman’s compensation claims. The claim history jumped from $603,137 in 2009-10 to $1,142,343 in 2010-11. The increase was so dramatic that our insurance company notified us that they were going to drop our coverage. The Portage Township School system was forced to move to a self-insurance program.

Moving to a self-insurance program means the school system now pays for all claims out of its own pocket. The Portage Township School system has contracted with a vendor to help administer the self-insurance program. As a part of this contract, the vendor has provided a consultant to work with the school system.

This consultant, Dr. Jim Krouse, has worked with myself and other employees throughout the district to develop a strong safety program to keep costs down (financial capital) and keep trained employees on the job (human capital), working to make sure that our students receive the educational experiences they deserve.

The schoolwide safety program is directed by a districtwide safety leadership team. This team consists of a representative from every employee location and classification. The group meets monthly and reviews the monthly district claims review report. This report breaks down employee accidents by cost, type, location, employee classification and body part. Discussions are held concerning accidents, hazards that have been reported, possible solutions to hazardous situations, and who is accountable to solving the problem. Each member of this district leadership team is responsible for reporting back to their site-based team at their work location.

This leadership group operates on an action plan that was established at the beginning of the safety initiative. That action plan consists of four major components: Awareness, Training, Accountability and Recognition.

As a result of the committee’s work, the Portage Township School Board recently approved a safety handbook that includes safety guidelines as well as consequences for unsafe behavior. In the near future it is our plan to include a safety link on the Portage Township Schools website. This link will provide access to the monthly claims report, safety guidelines and suggestions, recognition of employees and worksites that are accident-free, and recognition of ideas to improve safety.

Improving employee safety has been a wake-up call for our school system. It has taken a lot of hard work on many people’s part to improve our claims record.

Since the start of this initiative we have lowered the number of employee accidents from 75 in 2010-11 to 52 in 2011-12. Claims have decreased from $1.142 million to $213,975, a decrease of $928,368.

Congratulations to Kyle Elementary School and its employees for being accident-free in the policy year of 2011-12. We are on track to replicate those results for policy year 2012-13. But, as many of you in industry know, your safety record is only as good as your last accident.

Thank you to our employees who continue to practice their A-B-C’s; Always Be Careful!

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

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