Keeping risk to a minimum
recognized for managing costs, keeping workers safe
By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent
July 14, 2015
The insurance broker
Assurance recently recognized Grafton-based SEEK employment
agency with its“Minimizing Risk, Maximizing Health” award.
Front row, from left: Laurie Stueber, vice president, human
resources, SEEK; Lynne Kossow, health and safety
administrator, SEEK; and Carol Ann Schneider, founder and
CEO, SEEK. Back row, from left: Randy Matter, vice
president-finance, SEEK; Joel Schneider, president, SEEK;
Jay Shelton, senior vice president, risk management
services, Assurance; Jeff Tuisl, principal, Assurance; and
Dan Klaras, principal, Assurance.
Imagine trying to
manage a business where the majority of people you employ don’t
actually work for you. Now add to that fact that you can’t
completely control the individual job sites each of those
employees reports to each day. And in the end, you’re still
ultimately responsible for those employees completing a
successful and safe workday.
Welcome to the staffing industry, where managing risk is a
complex and ongoing process. This ongoing process is not just
about keeping employees safe, but also minimizing the costs
associated with it.
“Managing risk is something that’s never, ever done,” said Lynn
Kossow, health and safety administrator for Grafton-based SEEK.
“We’re always working on our goals; there’s always new rules,
new regulations and better ways of doing things.”
During the past three years, SEEK has made this effort a
priority, and was recently recognized as a Minimizing Risk,
Maximizing Health recipient from Assurance, a national
independent insurance broker.
Assurance started working with SEEK on its safety initiatives
when the company experienced a significant increase in its
“We didn’t really have a tipping point; things were the way they
had been for a really long time,” said Kossow. “But we started
to experience a number of worker’s compensation claims and
injuries, and it was worth looking into things a little
According to Jay Shelton, vice president of risk management at
Assurance, SEEK’s situation is fairly common among the clients
he works with.
“As a whole, we find that companies often don’t understand the
fundamental impact risk can have on a business, from injury
rates to increased premiums,” he said. “Generally, when premium
rates start to go up, that’s when companies will take a look at
what’s going on.”
In the case of SEEK, Assurance came in and performed a
proprietary Safety360 diagnostic assessment, which analyzed the
company’s existing safety program and provided specific
recommendations, including the hiring of a safety manager to
oversee SEEK’s 13 locations; establishing health and safety
performance goals for each location; defining safety roles and
establishing a safety committee; implementing a safety program
based on loss trends and utilizing Assurance resources in risk
management and safety initiatives.
“The goal of this program is to motivate more businesses to take
a proactive approach to risk, safety and health, and make a
profound impact on not only insurance costs, but also workers
and their families,” explained Dan Klaras, president at
Assurance. “SEEK is a great example of a company dedicated to
their employees’ overall safety and well being. “
“You can sit on your laurels and continue to hope that there
won’t be a proverbial catastrophic situation, or you can put
practices in place to protect your employees,” said Kossow.
“It’s a priority in our business to protect our people, which is
even more of a challenge in the staffing industry.”
Shelton agrees, and said that SEEK did an excellent job of
educating its internal corporate work force, the employees who
go to client worksites and the clients themselves. The newly
formed safety committee also took a three-pronged approach with
groups focusing on each of these areas.
“That helped us create a culture that involved all levels and
all people in the organization,” said Kossow. “Everyone has
ownership in what we are doing to minimize risk and improve
“The cost of doing business includes controlling loss, and SEEK
focused on how to impact that directly,” he said. “For example,
SEEK hosted a safety summit, which was an open panel discussion
that featured clients who had implemented safety initiatives,
which they were able to share with other clients.”
Shelton said that other implemented initiatives included a
safety hotline and a safety survey, along with improving
communication about these issues.
Combing the recommendations from Assurance along with their own
initiatives has also made a big difference in the company’s loss
ratio, resulting in $770,000 in premium savings.
Taking a long look at risk reduction and safety is something
that Kossow said is important for all businesses.
“Start today,” she said. “Everyone always says they don’t have
time or the resources in place to do it, but the repercussions
of not making the time to do it are so great.”
In addition to having a direct impact on loss, initiatives like
these also improve a company’s environment.
“It’s a great way to build a culture within your company,” she
added. “It takes time, but you can start small and that will
build momentum over time. We’ve made so many changes compared to
what had been in place a few years ago. It’s really resulted in
a big improvement for us.”