A study commissioned by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has concluded that the Hanford Site’s workers’ compensation system meets state standards for self-insurers but could be improved in a number of areas.
The study was conducted by Miller & Miller, PS, a Seattle audit and consulting firm. Last June, a number of Hanford workers and worker advocacy groups asked the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to look into complaints that workers’ compensation claims on the Hanford Site are being mishandled. DOE asked for the state of Washington’s involvement and agreed that L&I should take the lead on the review.
“We understand the concerns expressed by those who asked for this review,” said Robert Malooly, assistant director for Insurance Services at L&I. “Our consultant did an in-depth analysis of the way Contract Claims Service Inc. operates the Hanford workers’ compensation system. We compared that operation with other self-insurers in Washington state. We concluded that the Hanford operation meets our expectations for a self-insured employer.”
Malooly said Miller & Miller interviewed a cross section of Hanford workers, audited claim files and reviewed the structure used by DOE in administering the claims.
“The study does identify several areas where the Hanford contractor could improve,” he said. “We found, for instance, some disconnects between the services expected by claimants and the services that are provided. As the Miller & Miller report says, we believe there is room to create a more realistic set of expectations from injured workers and a more responsive customer service approach by the Department of Energy and its contractor.”
The Miller & Miller recommendations focus on improving the assistance provided to claimants, increasing the frequency and effectiveness of communications and improving the timeliness of claim progress to final resolution.
L&I released the report and answered questions at a public meeting Thursday night in Richland. The entire report is available at http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Insurance/SelfInsure/WhatsNew/Default.asp.
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