The Edmonson County Board of Education (BOE) has been successful in lowering its workers’ compensation experience modification rating, which saves on premiums and allows financial resources to be redirected for student support. In this Q&A, Director of Facilities & Safety Callie Beliles explains how a culture of workplace safety helps to make this possible.

Please briefly describe your primary business operation.
We are a small school district in south central Kentucky comprising five wonderful schools. There are two elementary schools, one fifth and sixth grade center, one middle school, and one high school.

What role does safety play in your organization’s culture?
We have a strong dedication to workplace safety, which we strive to instill daily into our 425 employees and nearly 1900 students. We have a documented commitment to safety through our quarterly district-wide safety team meetings and conduct a monthly safety meeting at each location. Over the last several years, our board has dedicated funds to make our facilities safer for our students and staff.

What are some of the workplace safety concerns unique to the educational environment for Edmonson County BOE?
The school district has several older facilities that were modified to meet codes and laws for school safety in today’s climate. Financial challenges limit our ability to purchase state-of-the-art equipment; however, we have utilized federal and state grants to make sure that the safety of our schools is our number one priority.

What practices have you added to your program that helped improve your safety record?
We have added more 3M safety film to all our schools and have utilized free training through one of our suppliers to ensure our employees have their required OSHA certifications and various other trainings. We’ve purchased new equipment for our custodial maintenance staff, such as new tools, furniture movers, and rollers for trash cans, and we are paving paths to dumpsters and improving lighting in our parking lots. Plus, our safety director does monthly walk-throughs of our facilities.

What impacts or benefits have you seen resulting from a strong safety program?
The most important benefit is that we have our staff and students present and healthy. By keeping our staff at work, we are able to educate our future. Having such a low experience mod has allowed us to save funds on our insurance premiums that we can directly use to support our students.

How has KEMI assisted in enhancing workplace safety and reducing claims?
KEMI has mainstreamed a lot of our reporting, and the professional support has helped our employees have a seamless experience during recovery. Also, the return-to-work program has allowed our employees to be back on the job much sooner than they normally would. The training KEMI provides for our school district has been crucial for educating our employees on how important workplace safety truly is.

What notable safety milestones or recognition has the Edmonson Board of Education achieved during the past several years?
We have received the KEMI Destiny Award for Excellence in Safety two times. This is an accomplishment our board, superintendent, and entire school district take immense pride in achieving. Our experience mod has decreased annually for several years, and as safety director, I am encouraged by the fact we have been able to make a good experience mod even better, which has a direct, positive impact on our students.

Keeping our staff and students safe is our number one priority, and we have infused this mindset into our daily culture.