The Town of Smithtown has put in place a risk management program for town workers intended to cut down on injuries and insurance costs, which jumped in 2016, officials said.
Workers’ compensation costs increased to $2.45 million last year from $1.9 million in 2015, although reported accidents dipped to 76 from 83, according to the comptroller’s office. Information on the severity of the injuries was not available.
Hundreds of town workers will train regularly to “safeguard themselves and property” and “cut down on accidents” as part of the new program, Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said in an interview. Workplace inspections and close monitoring of injured workers are also part of the program.
To that end, Katheryn Borowski was hired as a health and safety assistant, to be paid about $50,000 a year, to work directly with the town’s roughly 720 employees and seasonal workers, helping them log accident information and navigate the workers’ compensation process.
“This allows us to really look at and use data differently than if it was stored in a more diffuse way,” said Paul Rubano, a budget and grant specialist in the comptroller’s office who is administering the program.
Better and faster analysis can help protect workers doing some of the town’s riskiest jobs, such as highway department employees plowing snow, Ribano said.
In the future, the town could move toward an electronic accident reporting system to allow for real-time reporting from the field, he said. “It’s knowing what’s happening, why is it happening and how do you prevent it,” Rubano said.
The Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing the town’s blue collar workers, supports the program, Smithtown unit president Kelly Brown said in a statement.
Town officials say the program is already paying dividends. Insurance premiums for 2017 are down by $33,000, according to the comptroller’s office.