When ASCIP member, Ontario-Montclair School District reviewed their loss trends with their ASCIP Risk Services consultant last year, they noticed that one particular school, Lincoln Elementary School which houses a severe special education program, had the top number of injuries with a very high total incurred loss value. The District team of Phil Hillman, Chief Business Official; Jordan Aquino, Chief Financial Officer and Terri Douglas, Workers’ Compensation Technician, met with the school Principal, Bill Corrette to review the losses and discuss solutions. Bill was shocked by the numbers and stated that he has never reviewed this data in his years as principal. The team discussed many ideas and agreed to a two-prong approach.
First, hold teachers accountable. The teachers are essentially responsible for the safety of their classrooms and direct the duties of the Instructional Assistants, who were experiencing most of the injuries. Bill met with the teachers and shared the data about the injuries. The teachers “gasped” when they saw the numbers. Bill shared that the dollars spent toward injuries could support future salary increases, books or programs. If losses are reduced, then premiums go down as well. He told the teachers “we want you to act like a supervisor – provide direction, watch them [the instructional aides], admonish if inappropriate actions such as improper lifting or not using safety equipment takes place and listen to them for suggestions”. The teachers took their responsibility seriously.
Second, make safety a priority campus-wide. Bill encouraged all his staff to report safety concerns — big or small — directly to him. He listened carefully and took immediate corrective action. If a concern is sent via email, he visits the classroom the same day to inspect or talk to the employee to clarify and discuss solutions. If the repair or preventative measures are beyond his ability to remedy he contacts the Operations Department to discuss prompt solutions. It became obvious to the staff that safety is a priority to their Principal!
Bill shared that “it is a good idea to share this data with site principals. We look at and understand student data. Why not look at workers’ compensation and loss data as well”. The team’s approach is working. In less than a year, despite the hazards associated with handling Special Education students, accidents have reduced by more than half, and no costly indemnity/lost time claims have arisen indicating that the total incurred will reduce substantially as well.
While this program at the Ontario-Montclair School District indicates that sharing data with the stakeholders and holding staff accountable, along with exhibiting that safety is a priority, are simple, effective solutions for reducing losses, ASCIP is aware of the hazards and challenges encountered within our members’ schools as a result of the varying Special Education programs. Sites that house these programs are still likely to be in the top risk categories for injuries. Therefore, ASCIP has initiated a Special Education Focus Group to seek solutions that will benefit all members and help improve the safety of staff and students alike. Ontario-Montclair SD and a select few other members are participants. In the Fall 2017 , we will share more about this Special Education group and some resources they have developed. In the meantime, if you are interested in reviewing your loss data, or have questions about how ASCIP can assist you with risk control solutions, please contact your Risk Services Consultant.