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Business Insurance online event addresses workers compensation concerns

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Experts provided strategies to control workers compensation costs related to managing opioids and the aging workforce during Business Insurance's fifth annual Workers Comp & Safety Virtual Conference.

During a keynote speech, William Zachry, vice president of risk management at Safeway Inc., offered a series of recommendations such as connecting utilization review and bill review processes, using pre-employment screenings to avoid placing workers in jobs they are physically unfit to perform and reducing litigation by showing an interest in injured workers.

Kimberly George, senior vice president and senior health care adviser at Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., talked about the challenges and opportunities that accompany the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Steven Feinberg, chief medical officer for Feinberg Medical Group in Palo Alto, California; Alex Swedlow, president of the Oakland, California-based California Workers' Compensation Institute; and Vennela Thumula, policy analyst at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers Compensation Research Institute, discussed guidelines and best practices to control the use of opioids and avoid overprescribing.

While older workers are less likely to be injured on the job, those who are hurt often take longer to return to work at full capacity, said David Barry, senior vice president and national technical director of casualty risk control at Willis North America Inc.

Debbie Villegas, manager of human resources at Jordan Foster Construction L.L.C., said some companies are bringing back knowledgeable older workers who retire as consultants to help manage projects. Lance Perry, senior ergonomist and professional engineer at Zurich Services Corp., said ergonomics is the key to keeping older workers safe and healthy.

Nearly 900 risk managers, safety managers, human resources and benefit managers, brokers and third-party administrators, among other attendees, registered for last week's free online event.

The virtual conference is available on demand at BusinessInsurance.com/CompCosts.