Jim Murphy and Associates (JMA) construction firm in Sonoma County has achieved what most construction companies can’t say they have: seven years with zero lost time. With more than 35 employees whose work is either entirely field based or takes them into the field every week, and only five employees are entirely office based.
A lost time injury (LTI) is an injury sustained by an employee that results in a loss of productive work time. An injury is considered an LTI only when the injured worker is unable to perform regular job duties, takes time off for recovery, or is assigned modified work duties while recovering.
“This is a remarkable milestone achieved by only a handful of construction employees in the U.S.,” says Mike Sheahan, first vice president and account executive at Alliance Insurance Services, JMA’s provider. “What this means is in a seven-year span and more than 546,367 man hours, JMA didn’t incur a work-related injury that required any one on their workforce to miss a day of work. This is an amazing statistic.”
Safety is not a goal at JMA, explains Audrey Giroux, marketing manager at JMA, “It’s an expectation.” To achieve the accomplishment, JMA attributes its leadership within the company to safety success. “In addition to our jobsite weekly tailgate meetings, we hold two companywide safety meetings annually that focus on safety training,” says Giroux. “We treat our field guys to a hot lunch—something they rarely get in the field.”
JMA acknowledges and rewards safety efforts with quarterly VISA gift cards as well as a family fun day at the Sonoma County Fair for all employees and their families.
“It’s the leaders at JMA, at the top of our organization and in the field, that have made safety job number one,” says Giroux. “It’s above all other objectives, including the project budget and the construction schedule.”
It’s nothing short of serious when a worker is inured on the job. Workers’ compensation can be the saving grace to getting an injured employee the help they need to get back on the job. Here are eight myths and facts about workers’ compensation.
Myth: Workers’ compensation is an employee benefit that is essentially like any discretionary employee benefit.
Reality: Workers’ compensation is a substitute for tort damages and is not a discretionary employee welfare benefit. Virtually every other employee benefit—sick leave, vacation, uniform reimbursement—is a discretionary benefit that may be offered, or not, at the sole discretion of an employer.
Myth: All employees are covered by workers' compensation.
Reality: In 14 states, employers of small companies are exempt from carrying workers’ compensation coverage. This ranges from employers with one employee up to employers with five employees. Agricultural workers are not required to be covered by workers’ compensation in 17 states. Employers can still choose to obtain coverage voluntarily.
Myth: Employees stay out of work intentionally because they don't want to go back to work.
Reality: Employees often don't come back to work because a company won't offer them a transitional duty assignment while they recuperate. While some employees try to stay out of work, that's most often not the case. In some situations, where an employer has only a few, narrow job classifications in their operation, there aren't many transitional duty options; in these situations, the employer must "think outside the box" to locate jobs not obvious at first glance.
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