Pine Bluff Arsenal has reached another milestone in safety -- this time in the workers' compensation cost arena and long-term injury rolls.

For the past four years, the Arsenal has maintained costs under a million dollars and have maintained the long-term rolls at zero since fiscal year 2012.

Pam Clark, PBA's Injury Compensation Program administrator, credits the success of the program to a group effort, starting first with a safe working environment. "Safety-focused workers and supervisors result in fewer injuries," she said. "Prevention of injuries is the number one method of reducing our injury costs. It is important that I am aware of injuries as soon as they occur, as well as the injured worker's status. Returning employees to work as soon as possible reduces our compensation costs."

Clark also provides employee and supervisor training, when needed, and also keeps the workforce informed of their rights and responsibilities monthly in the Arsenal Sentinel.

In January 2012, the Arsenal achieved a large safety milestone, when it was announced that the workforce had worked a million man hours without a lost time injury. "We should acknowledge that a million man hours without an injury is a significant milestone," said Mark Lumpkin, director of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs, in the February 2012 Arsenal Sentinel issue. "This is an achievement that the Arsenal has never seen. It took approximately six months of time to get here."

Lumpkin said his goal is for Arsenal personnel to see the correlation between the various safety initiatives that are on-going on the installation and the impact that having lower workers' compensation costs have on PBA's overall product costs. "We have union support now for our Voluntary Protection Program effort but the underlying tenets for safety never stopped for us. We transitioned to the OHSAS 18001 standard which we have achieved," he said. "Having zero individuals on the long-term rolls is just huge."

Clark said at one point the LTR had been as high as 29 in fiscal year 1991. "I have a dual role in the program. I must ensure that injured workers received the required medical care and assistance for return to work, as well as protect the Army's interest and challenge the claim if it is a questionable injury," she said. "Our employees have made my work easier by actively pursuing return to work when released from their physician even with restricted duty."

Clark explained that the Arsenal's Federal Employee Compensation Act Working Group has been reviewing injury cases since it was established in 1992. "All injuries and illnesses are reviewed by the Injury Review Working Group, which in addition to me includes members from Safety, the Arsenal's Medical Officer, a Nurse Case Manager, Industrial Hygiene, and the injured worker's supervisor," she said. "When there is a lost-time injury or an individual requests off-post medical care, I provide the physician the employee's usual work requirements confirming limited duty is available."

Clark said that then the Department of Labor will assign a registered nurse to the case to facilitate medical treatment and return to work. ""People are having fewer injuries because they are more safety focused," she said. "But when they do have an injury and I am aggressively involved in their return to work program that is a win-win for everyone."

Page last updated Thu February 14th, 2013 at 17:04