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April 09, 2013
School district creates ABCs of injury reduction

What does a school district know about reducing employee injuries? Quite a lot, apparently. When the Portage (Indiana) Township School System experienced a jump in injuries and workers’ comp claims, their insurance company dropped coverage and forced them into a self-insurance program.

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According to Assistant Superintendent Thomas Taylor, the school system worked with a consultant to build a strong safety program. The heart of the program is a simple message: Always Be Careful, or ABC. A districtwide action plan is built around four key elements—awareness, training, accountability, and recognition.

The initiative is led by a districtwide safety leadership team that includes representatives from every employee location and classification. The group meets monthly to discuss accidents, hazards, and possible solutions. Every issue is assigned to an accountable individual.

As a result of the team’s effort, the Portage School Board recently approved a safety handbook that includes guidelines and consequences for unsafe behavior. A planned safety link on the school system website will include safety guidelines and suggestions and a monthly claims report.

“Improving safety has been a wake-up call for our school system,” says Taylor. Over about 2 years the number of accidents has dropped significantly, with a savings of nearly $1 million.

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