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Each year, National Underwriter’s Excellence in Workers’ Compensation Risk Management Award recognizes three organizations with exemplary loss control, safety and return-to-work programs. They are the leaders in this arena, all featuring success stories showing proven results. This year’s winners are AmQuip, Danos and Iron Mountain. All three companies are being profiled in its special cover feature in NU’s August issue, and also will be honored on Aug. 18 during the 69th annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference (WCEC), set for Aug. 17-20 at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Florida.

AmQuip knows the secret to a successful workers’ compensation program: zero injuries. A tall order, to be sure – especially when your company rents out and operates nearly 700 cranes in 47 states to refineries, power plants, and industrial and building construction sites. Eliminating injuries, however, was far from impossible, according to Jeffrey C. Hammons, vice president of risk management for the Philadelphia-based crane rental provider. The right training and participation among employees, the company and its carriers greatly payed off – and a shared passion for the company and its values doesn’t hurt, either.”We’re one of the three largest employers of union [crane] operators in the country,” Hammons says, and while he’s quick to point out that AmQuip’s partnerships with a lengthy list of local unions attract many eager candidates to work for the company, he acknowledges that when you source 300 to 500 seasonal employees, they come with varied levels of training and professional development. And therein lies Hammons’ No. 1 challenge to his workers’ compensation program. AmQuip has averaged $46,000 a year in workers’ compensation costs since 2009. Its workers’ compensation budgets are reduced by 15% each year that the company comes in below its previous budget.

Danos’ culture of safety yields a record number of incident reduction in often treacherous conditions. Headquartered in Larose, La., Danos provides contract labor services, construction and fabrication, sandblasting and painting services and consultants to the oil and gas industry worldwide. Founded in 1947 and currently boasting a workforce of more than 1,600 employees, Danos operates in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and gulf coast region, Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Ohio and in several foreign countries, supplying personnel for various on-site oil and gas industry projects and work sites, including pipelines. “We provide people,” says Mayet. “They are our product.” The work, as one would surmise, is inherently dangerous – particularly on work sites set over water, such as oil rigs. Even traveling to the work sites can be treacherous: Boats and helicopters are used for transportation of personnel and supplies. Swing ropes and cranes are used to transfer personnel and supplies from vessels to platform. Platforms include machinery, high-pressure wells, boat landings, steel decks, stairways and handrails, all of which need continuous maintenance and upkeep to control the effects of a salt water environment on steel surfaces and electrical machinery. Yet through its dedication in recent years to achieving operational excellence, Danos has reached all-time lows in its total recordable incident rates at a time when the company’s personnel, man-hours and exposures have increased tremendously. As its time on-site and total number of personnel have grown in recent years, incidents are on an inverse track.

When Geoffrey Smith joined the risk management team at Iron Mountain in 2008, it was clear that the company required a sea change when it came to its workers’ compensation program. As the largest records-management company in the U.S. with operations in 35 countries, Iron Mountain’s employees face a number of on-the-job exposures. “We pick up and store boxes of customer paper records, computer tapes and media, and then return these records to our customers upon request,” explains Smith – boxes that can easily weigh up to 80 pounds. As a result, back and shoulder injuries are common. He set and achieved the goal of reducing their costs by half within five years.

On Aug. 18 during the conference, NU Executive Managing Editor Shawn Moynihan will lead a special roundtable at 1 p.m. during which attendees can learn some of the secrets behind these award-winning programs. The award is sponsored by Helmsman Management Services, a third-party administrator that offers claims management, managed care and risk-control solutions for businesses with 1,000 employees or more. Presented by the Workers’ Compensation Institute, WCEC is the largest gathering of its kind in the nation and offers discipline-specific programs and breakout sessions from hundreds of national speakers.