The Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City operates 40 schools in northeastern and central Missouri. The system of parishes and schools does great work. But when they became a Missouri Employers Mutual policyholder in 2012, their safety record was less than great.
According to Joe Braddock, chief financial officer, their e-mod was so high that if they’d been a construction company, they wouldn’t have been eligible for a government contract.
Since then, the Diocese has transformed into a team of proactive safety champions. They’ve worked very closely with Darla Veltrop, agent at Winter-Dent & Co., and Dale Muenks, senior safety and risk consultant at MEM, to make several improvements and develop a strong safety culture.
Investing in safety leads to popular program
Last year, the Diocese chose to invest in safety in an incredible way. Inspired by MEM’s safety grant program, which awards grants to selected applicants to purchase safety equipment, they built their own safety grant program.
Schools and churches in the Diocese can apply for a grant up to $2,000 to improve safety in their facilities. The grant program was a big hit in its first year: they expected to award 10 grants, but ended up giving more than that because they got so many great applications.
The Diocese’s safety committee judges grant applications. Recipients must use the grant to purchase equipment that will improve employee safety. Last year’s winners used the funds to replace old ladders, install safety treads on stairs, buy moisture absorption mats for building entrances, and even buy a lift for maintenance staff to avoid using a 20-foot ladder in the gym.
When awarding the grants, leadership made a splash celebrating the recipients at each location. Joe explained, “By celebrating, we not only solved a safety issue with the new equipment but also increased general safety awareness.” In 2019 and beyond, the team plans to award grants twice a year for a total of $20,000-$25,000.
Safety culture reaches entire network of schools and churches
Their innovative safety grant program isn’t the only positive change the Diocese has achieved in the past few years. In fact, they’ve developed a safety culture that extends into every school and church in the region. They have a safety committee of principals, teachers, risk management staff and even MEM representation. They meet quarterly to discuss current safety concerns and new ideas.
The committee also produces safety bulletins on highly relevant topics like icy sidewalks and ladder load limits. They email the bulletins to all schools, and staff post them in common areas like break rooms. Each school holds monthly staff meetings, where they go over safety bulletins.
Real results and a bright future ahead
Thanks to their commitment to safety and support from MEM, the Diocese’s e-mod has dropped significantly over the past few years. Their injury reporting rate has increased to nearly 100% – an accomplishment that Joe attributes to their use of MEM’s nurse triage program. With an increase in injury reporting, you’d expect to see the injury rate itself increase as well. But because of their focus on safety, the Diocese’s injury rate hasn’t increased.
“MEM has helped us make small changes that don’t take a lot of extra time, but have big benefits in terms of safety,” Joe commented. “We have a small staff and only a few people specializing in safety or risk management, so we really rely on MEM for recommendations and best practices.”