Duane Tarbet Gives Semi-annual Safety Report

In his Semi-annual Safety Update, Hot Springs Village POA Safety and Risk Manager Duane Tarbet said, “The HSVPOA safety program is not about the numbers; it is about the people.”

At the July 19, 2023, Board meeting, Tarbet apprised the Hot Springs Village POA Board on the current safety numbers. Tarbet said that 2023 had met his safety expectations with the safety program working well, and the safety culture has begun to shift because the goals and expectations laid out in the previous year are being met.

Even though employees continue to report incidents, there has been a steady decrease in incidents in 2023. It can be common for employees to view accident incidents as something that might get them in trouble. Tarbet said, “That is not at all how we view it.”

Tarbet emphasized, “We want our people to go out at night the same way they came in that morning. I don’t want to knock on a spouse’s door and tell them that their spouse is not coming home because of an accident at work. That has happened here in the past. As a matter of fact, it happened in 2011.”

As long as I am sitting here in this seat, I will do everything and anything I can to keep that from ever happening again. Our people are our number one asset.

In the image below, green incidents are reportable incidents. Yellow incidents are incidents where medical treatment was sought. The orange line represents the DART rate. (DART stands for days away, restricted, or transferred.) The DART rate is a measurement that Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies use as a standard. 3.0 to 3.1 is the national average DART rate.

Safety Program Focuses on People Not Numbers Duane Tarbet

Prior to my coming here in 2021, our DART rate was 11.4 – four times the national average. In 2022, our DART rate dropped dramatically.

“In 2023, it has also dropped, which is very important. In the first six months of 2023, we had six reportable incidents, 19 days of restricted duty (light duty work), and zero lost work days. This is important because, in 2021, we had 121 lost work days,” shared the manager. This means there were 121 days when someone was not coming to work due to a work-related injury.

Our current DART rate is .59, which is well below the national average of 3.0 to 3.1.

The 19 days of restricted duty were for two individuals.

  • One was on light duty, and before he/she went back for his/her follow-up MRI, he/she left for another job and never reported to the doctor. “I question this a little bit, but it was still reported,” explained the safety expert.
  • The second questionable incident involved an employee who was reprimanded by his/her supervisor and under performance review. The following day this employee twisted his/her ankle, subsequently failing a mandatory drug test. This employee was terminated.

The workers’ compensation insurance companies are only willing to take on a certain amount of risk. The factors the insurance companies use in calculating risk are:

  • Workers’ class code,
  • Claims experience modifier (what do the claims look like over a certain number of years),
  • A calculation of $100 per payroll.

In previous years, our workman’s compensation claims were high, so we were basically self-funded. “We paid all of our own workman’s comp claims – every single dollar was paid by the POA – unless it met the $500,000 deductible for most employees, with a deductible of $600,000 for police officers or firemen.”

Because of this high deductible, we purchased a deductible bumper for $25,000 to bring the deductible down to $400,000. This is $400,000 for every claim, not total claims.

“Being self-funded for workers comp claims is risky. One amputation would put you over the line, and heaven forbid there was a death,” expressed Tarbet.

In 2023 we were offered an opportunity to take out fully-funded workers’ compensation insurance. This cost is much less than what we paid in previous years, but Tarbet said this cost could improve.

Between the insurance premium and money paid for medical care for injured employees, the 2021 costs totaled $240,203.17. In 2022, this amount was reduced to $217,046.51. A lot of the 2022 cost comes from 2021 claims. “I am happy to report that as of May 31, 2023 are $46,614.10. While this is tremendous savings, Tarbet stressed, “It is about the people. Zero people have had to stay home due to work-related injury this year.”

Duane Tarbet Demonstrates Shade
Shade Hat for POA Staff

Tarbet said the POA enacted simple measures to protect the safety and comfort of employees by purchasing a vented hard hat. and a sunshade that is worn on the hat to keep the employees cooler. This shade helps to drop the temperature by as much as 20 degrees. “Our employees love them and are appreciative,” enthused the manager.

It is the simple things we do to make the employees realize this is a whole culture shift. It is all about caring and taking care of our people.

Report by Cheryl Dowden