2012 WorkNEWS – KDOT Article

WorkSTEPS Pre-Employment Post-Offer Testing Helps Kansas Department of Transportation Cut Workers’ Comp Claims by 90 Percent Over Two-Year Period

In 2008, Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Safety Coordinator Kelly Gaer, reviewed the Department’s annual budget and knew that something had to be done to address crippling workers’ compensation costs. Gaer’s preliminary research on KDOT’s workers’ compensation claims revealed telling trends. First, one position – equipment operators – accounted for 77 percent of the total number of claimants.  Second, an overwhelming percentage of claimants had been on the job for only three years or fewer.

His findings led Gaer to question the cause of elevated workers’ comp claims among equipment operators. And when Gaer examined KDOT’s hiring protocols, he zeroed in on the Department’s required physical exams, their purpose, and their effectiveness in identifying potential applicants that were unfit to perform the essential functions of the position. To his surprise, Gaer found that every single applicant had passed the mandatory physical examination, meaning  zero applicants had been turned away resulting from the physical examination screening. In short, new employees in a physically-demanding position were not being properly screened, and accounted for an exponentially disproportionate number of workers’ compensation claims.

Looking for a solution, Gaer turned to KDOT’s counterpart to the East, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). MoDOT had recently incorporated WorkSTEPS pre-employment post-offer testing into their comprehensive injury-management program. MoDOT experienced significant reductions in workers’ compensation claims after implementing WorkSTEPS testing, and Gaer convinced KDOT to implement similar WorkSTEPS testing for a number of physically-demanding positions for new-hires.

Gaer and KDOT employee relations manager Alice Burney contracted with licensed WorkSTEPS provider Athletic Rehabilitation Center (ARC) to address three needs: 1) a validated job analysis for each position tested, 2) a pre-employment post-offer physical and 3) a work-simulation test for applicants based on the essential functions of the position for which the applicant is being tested.

ARC representatives conducted field observations to examine firsthand, seven physically-demanding KDOT positions, developing job-specific tasks for each position based on WorkSTEPS job analysis protocols. Testing was implemented in 2009 and the Department experienced immediate results, seeing the trend continue through 2011.

KDOT’s workers’ comp payments to employees with fewer than three years experience on the job 2008 – 2011

 

Year

Percentage of total workers’ comp claims represented by those with less than 3 years experience

 

Claims total

2008 32 percent $303,000
2009 33 percent $361,000
2010* 8 percent $75,000
2011 3.3 percent $36,000

*First (full) year of WorkSTEPS

Workers’ Compensation claims for employees with less than three years experience dropped from 33 percent of total KDOT claimants down to 8 percent in the first full year of testing. That trend continued through 2011, when the same group accounted for only 3.3 percent of total workers’ compensation claims – a 90 percent decrease in only two years. Out of 275 pre-employment post-offer tests conducted, 17 candidates were found to be Not Capable of performing the essential functions of the job for which he/she was being considered. The calculated potential savings to KDOT as a result of these tests (rather than paying workers’ comp claims for employees injured because they are not capable of performing the essential functions of the position) is roughly $2.5 million since the program’s inception.

“Our partnership with Athletic Rehabilitation Center to implement the WorkSTEPS pre-employment post-offer testing has had a profoundly positive impact on our workers’ compensation claims and the overall health and safety of our workforce,” said Kelly Gaer. “As a result of the WorkSTEPS testing, we’ve experienced fewer workers’ comp claims, fewer on-the-job injuries, fewer days lost to injury among our workforce, and saved millions of dollars. In short, we’ve been more efficient and more productive as a result of incorporating WorkSTEPS testing into our comprehensive injury management plan.”

For more information on how WorkSTEPS can help your company save money on workers’ compensation claims, become more efficient and more productive, visit www.worksteps.com or call 512.617.4100.