Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Job Safety Programs Could Cut Compensation Costs / Says Roy Evans

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Job Safety Programs Could Cut Compensation Costs / Says Roy Evans

Article excerpt

Job safety programs could help Oklahoma employers cut their workers' compensation costs, a U.S. Department of Labor administ rator told a governor's review committee on Tuesday.

"If you've got a safety program, you can cut your accident rate by 50 percent," said Roy Evans, state liaison advisor of the Labor Department's regional office in Dallas.

Evans' audience was the Workers' Compensation Review Committee, which has been appointed by Gov. George Nigh to make recommendations to the Oklahoma Legislature on how the state's workers' compensation system can be improved.

"We're having too many accidents," Evans said.

Oklahoma has an incidence rate of 8.9 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey distributed by Evans.

The national average incidence rate is 7.6, the survey said.

"The bottom line, as far as on-the-job injuries are concerned, is that we're not using the technology we have to cut down on accidents," Evans said.

"That would do more than anything else to control the medical costs of workers' compensation," Evans said.

Disagreeing with Evans was Al Basey, manager of AT&T's Oklahoma City Works and a member of the governor's committee on workers' compensation.

"That doesn't always work," Basey said. "Our very fine accident program has cut accidents by 25 percent and we've had a 50 percent increase in the number of workers' compensation claims filed."

Evans replied:

"Perhaps that was due to layoffs."

Basey, the AT&T executive, said that was not the case.

"We've been hiring the past two years,m" Basey said.

The problem, as Evans sees it, is that too many employers don't have safety programs.

"In Oklahoma, the state Labor Department has a very good program that encourages job safety and works cooperatively with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration," Evans said in a cost study he has done of the Oklahoma workers' compensation system. …

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