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February 17, 2013

Sysco welcomes Norman Chamber members; forum presented on Workers Compensation

(Continued)

NORMAN —

“Our incentive program has helped,” he said.

While Sysco has a good program with workers, like all Oklahoma businesses, it is still affected by the high premium rates, costs of attorneys and settlement of suits.

“My involvement with workers comp over the years was writing checks,” Davis said.

A simple “slip and fall” turned into $350,00 in one case, Davis said. An employee had surgeries for carpel tunnel syndrome, shoulder surgeries and was off work for a year and was still mediating two years later, he said. Like many employers, Davis said workers comp in Oklahoma is not doing what it was designed to do — pay for medical treatment to get people healthy and back to work as quickly as possible.

“At no point in time does it seem like the point is to get the employees healthy and back to work,” he said. “In Oklahoma, it seems like it is a good deal for the employees to draw this out.”

The payoff is “very enticing” for some but that price is carried by all of us, not just employers, Davis said.

“We’re all employers,” he said. “Norman Public Schools is an employer. The city of Norman is an employer.”

Oklahoma has one of the highest premium rates in the nation.

“Isn’t that unbelievable?” Davis said.

The state also rates high for “Lost-Time Claim Frequency,” and the same injury costs two-and-a-half times more in Oklahoma than it does in Texas.

Facts like these are part of why Davis agreed to become part of the Oklahoma Injury Benefit Coalition. The group is working on an omnibus workers comp proposal for 2013 that could include a workers comp act, an injury benefit act and a workers comp arbitration act.

Davis said there are hopes pinned on Senate Bill 1062 which would solve many issues for the state’s employers.

“The idea is to move to an administrative system,” he said.

Trial lawyers are likely to oppose the bill, but Davis thinks it has the support to pass.

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