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Employees ante up on safety program

Employees ante up on safety program

It's not every day that risk managers can tally up the number of lives saved by one of their safety programs.

But Mary C. Oddo, supervisor-risk control for Harrah's Entertainment Inc., oversees the risk management department's purchase of automated external defibrillators—computerized emergency medical devices made to treat cases of cardiac arrest.

Ms. Oddo ensures that Harrah's employees most likely to put an AED to use comply with American Heart Assn. training standards and she tracks the number of times Harrah's employees successfully use an AED. Since 1999, AEDs have saved the lives of 179 Harrah's guests and employees.

"Seeing that number go up by 30-some people every year, that really is the most gratifying part of the entire program," she said.

Most of Harrah's employees trained to use the AEDs are security personnel or emergency medical technicians, Ms. Oddo said. But some risk control managers at individual Harrah's properties have also trained to use them and can train co-workers to use them also.

Another of Ms. Oddo's duties is tracking the number of "safety chips" awarded to Harrah's employees.

The chips are just that—poker chips with numbers etched in them. Each time an employee reports a potential safety problem, he or she receives a chip to redeem for a prize or accumulate for larger prizes.

Purchasing slip-resistant safety shoes also earns a point "because slips and falls represent a huge percentage of our workers comp claims," Ms. Oddo said.

A safety chip redemption catalog shows prizes employees can earn. For example, with a single chip, employees can get a shower radio or an alarm clock. Five chips allow them to select a fish fryer, the most sought-after prize in the catalog, Ms. Oddo said, while 15 chips earn a DVD or MP3 player.

Potential safety problems that employees might report include carpet tears, which could trip an employee or guest; or a busy corridor intersection needing a mirror to prevent workers from crashing into each other, such as in a food-handling area.

During 2006, Harrah's issued 14,842 safety chips to 6,552 employees, Ms. Oddo said. To earn a chip, employees must provide certain details that get collected and analyzed for trends, Ms. Oddo said. For example, reports of a number of carpet tears could mean a Harrah's property must replace the entire rug, rather than just repair it.