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KEMPER NATIONAL SURVEY ASSESSES WORKERS COMP CLAIM CONTROL TRENDS

 KEMPER NATIONAL SURVEY ASSESSES WORKERS COMP CLAIM CONTROL TRENDS
 LONG GROVE, Ill., July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Major U.S. companies are training their employees on workplace safety and accident prevention, but most are not explaining in advance how the workers compensation process functions in case of on-the-job injury.
 That is one of the findings of a Kemper National Insurance Companies' survey of more than 450 risk managers at the nation's largest companies to assess their use of a variety of pre-injury and post-management techniques to control workers compensation claims costs. Kemper National is the tenth largest workers compensation insurer in the United States.
 According to the survey results, 93 percent of the respondents provide employee safety training, and 92 percent have formal accident reporting procedures. Only 39 percent, however, include an explanation of the workers compensation process in their new-employee orientation or at other employee forums.
 "These results tell me that businesses are embracing the notion of promoting a safe workplace and are working to avoid accidents," said Robert M. Hiltz, Kemper National loss control officer. "That's the good news. But we all know that accidents will happen, and employees should know that their company is prepared to pay their medical bills and loss of income when they are hurt on the job. Those who don't are much more likely to seek attorney involvement unnecessarily, which unnecessarily drives up workers compensation claim costs."
 For instance, in Montana, a State Labor Department study found that lawyers received 20 percent of 1990 workers compensation claims settlements. In California, 13.8 percent of new claims in this area were litigated during the second quarter of 1991, up 17 percent from 1989. And in Massachusetts, lawyers representing workers compensation claimants made $86.6 million in fees in 1990, according to the state's Industrial Accident Board.
 The Kemper survey also found that 74 percent of the companies surveyed have early return-to-work programs, which provide modified job duties for employees who are recovering from work injuries but cannot yet perform their normal duties. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which goes into effect this year, will require that all employers provide return-to-work programs. About 49 percent of the businesses have ergonomic programs, which involve, among other things, redesigning employees' work areas or tools or giving more frequent breaks. These programs help reduce repetitive motion injuries, the leading cause of workplace injuries, as well as other work-related injuries.
 According to the survey results, 16 percent of the companies responding to the survey reduced staff in their risk management areas in 1991. But only 7 percent expect to do so throughout 1992.
 Finally, just 16 percent of the companies are purchasing fleet cars equipped with air bags as part of their workers compensation cost containment program. According to the National Safety Council, traffic accidents are the primary cause of work-related deaths.
 Kemper National, with 1991 sales of $3.2 billion, operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and many foreign markets.
 Complete survey results follow.
 RESULTS OF KEMPER NATIONAL SURVEY OF RISK MANGERS
 During 1991, did you reduce staff in your risk management/safety department?
 16 percent Yes 84 percent No
 Do you expect to reduce staff in those areas in 1992?
 7 percent Yes 93 percent No
 Which of the following cost containment techniques do you use to control your workers compensation claim costs?
 Pre-Injury Management
 39 percent -- Including an explanation of the workers compensation
 process as a part of new-employee orientation or in
 other forums?
 93 percent -- Employee safety training and awareness programs
 49 percent -- Ergonomics programs
 60 percent -- Employment medical evaluations
 62 percent -- Job safety analysis
 66 percent -- Physician/clinic selection
 16 percent -- Purchase fleet cars equipped with air bags
 Post-injury management
 67 percent -- Medical bill auditing
 64 percent -- In-plant first-aid program
 92 percent -- Accident reporting procedures
 74 percent -- Early return-to-work program
 -0- 7/15/92
 /CONTACT: Patrick Gould of Kemper National, 708-540-3422/ CO: Kemper National Insurance Companies ST: Illinois IN: INS SU: ECO


SH -- NY050 -- 9514 07/15/92 11:49 EDT
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Date:Jul 15, 1992
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