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To the editor: We are writing to comment on the remarks of Dr. Jennifer Christian in the May 26 Perspective article, "Managing Comp Care a Challenge."
We agree that work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable. We also agree that standards for loss prevention are important, albeit often not properly implemented. However, Dr. Christian then suggests that the failure of the workers comp system is its "inattention to preventing injuries" because of insurer concerns that loss prevention "would jeopardize their income stream." This view causes us considerable concern.
As a safety professional employed in the insurance industry for more than 30 years, and as a manager of an insurance industry-supported organization that has dedicated itself to loss prevention for more than 130 years, I can attest to the industry's longstanding support of safety standards and the commitment of the approximately 8,000 safety professionals in the industry to loss prevention.
As far back as the 1800s, the insurance industry has been a constant supporter and driver of loss prevention standards in areas from fire and life safety to machine guarding, industrial hygiene and security. Since 1866, our company has worked to develop adequate loss prevention standards, and our industry has promoted loss prevention as an important activity for policyholders. Our industry was the publisher of the first model code for the construction of safe buildings in this country. We contributed to the origins of such well-respected safety organizations as Underwriters' Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Assn.
We currently have representatives working directly on more than 60 committees developing safety standards that are used in manufacturing plants, at worksites and in homes throughout the United States.
The 8,000 safety professionals employed by insurers in this country work conscientiously and constructively to reduce the frequency and severity of work-related injuries and illnesses.
These things are done with the support of management, without concern for reduced income. The objectives are to increase profits through reduced claims and to create more competitive and affordable rates.
In addition, the industry provides employers with significant financial incentives to reduce losses, such as "experience modifiers" for workers compensation premiums.
While we certainly share Dr. Christian's concerns regarding the prevention of injuries and illnesses, we want to be certain that readers do not accept the misleading picture of insurers she presented-especially since the insurance industry historically has proved itself to be a strong proponent of safety standards and loss prevention.
Gerald E. Lingenfelter
Vp-Engineering and Safety
Services Group Inc.