LWCC Addresses Unique Disaster Recovery Issues

October 24, 2005

The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation (LWCC), a private, nonprofit mutual insurance company that covers more than one-third of Louisiana’s workers’ comp insurance market, reported it is working to address the unique problems facing businesses during post-hurricane disaster recovery efforts. The company has established a special task force to tackle issues such as safety, claims, employment practices and getting appropriate medical care for the specific types of injuries that will come from the clean up of New Orleans and other affected areas.

“We’re already seeing an increase in the frequency of severe accidents, including some deaths, related to disaster recovery,” said Michael Dileo, LWCC’s vice president of risk management services. “So it’s important that we work with businesses to make certain they understand the unique safety risks involved with clean up efforts.”

Most of the claims the company has seen so far have been from things like falls, operation of equipment, and vehicle accidents. “We’re also working with our network of medical providers and training our claims staff to become knowledgeable about and prepared to handle any claims that result from reconstruction,” Dileo said.

Another risk employers face comes from hiring untrained workers. Since workers with less than one year’s experience account for almost a third of all occupational injuries each year, LWCC stresses to its policyholders the importance of training new hires, especially on any equipment they will use.

“We also encourage employers to use smart hiring practices such as pre-employment drug testing,” said John Liles, LWCC’s loss prevention specialist.

LWCC also is seeing a significant increase in new business ventures forming to become a part of the clean up efforts. The company is working with government agencies such as the Department of Labor and the State Licensing Board for Contractors to ensure these new businesses are legal and are taking the proper steps to protect the workers they hire and provide the appropriate equipment and training needed to do the job safely.

“LWCC is taking a hard look at these new applicants to make sure we understand the nature of their business and the potential injury exposure. Our loss prevention consultants are going on-site to evaluate their safety and training programs because of the inherent dangers in all recovery jobs,” explained Dave Dommert, LWCC’s senior vice president of production. “We’re also taking steps to collect the appropriate premium to maintain a level playing field for all such business.”

“LWCC is also partnering with business groups such as the Jefferson Parish Chamber and the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission to provide valuable safety information for their members,” Liles added.

LWCC has a free safety brochure that can be downloaded from its Web site, www.lwcc.com. The brochure contains valuable tips for businesses to avoid some of the most common accidents related to clean up and reconstruction work, including lifting, slips and falls, and operating equipment. To request additional copies of the brochure, email information@lwcc.com.

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