Robins saves $1.2 million, injury compensation hits 15-year low

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

For the third straight year, Robins has achieved significant savings from decreased costs of workers’ compensation claims.   

A total of $1.2 million was saved from the last chargeback year, from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016. That total represented 21 percent of the Air Force’s total $5.6 million decrease in workers’ injury and illness compensation bill during the last year. 

As part of the Robins Air Force Base portion of the Department of Labor’s Federal Employee Compensation Act Report for 2016, the workers' compensation bill for chargeback year 2016 was $11.87 million; in 2015, it was $13.08 million. This year’s total was the lowest in 15 years.   

Using 2013 as a benchmark, with the opening of the Air Force’s first FAST FORWARD – First Aid Station, Treatment and Forward Operating Rehabilitation of Workers Accentuating Restorative Dynamics – clinic on the Robins flight line, cumulative cost savings during the last three years yielded a total savings of $7.25 million. This cost savings to the base enables Robins to be more competitive in obtaining and sustaining workload to support the warfighting mission.

“Robins’ continued effort to reduce the risk of injuries has culminated in this wave of cost savings,” said Col. (Dr.) Michael Rappa, Occupational Medicine Services chief at Robins. “I believe we will continue to see improvements as we make Robins a safer place to work. We have come a long way, but I think we still have opportunities to improve.”  

Rappa noted that a key factor of success has been the development at OMS of one of the most effective injury care, rehabilitation and case management services in the Air Force for federal employees with workplace injuries.  

He cited other factors attributed to the downward trend, including continued command emphasis on workplace safety and health; employees’ active participation in the Voluntary Protection Program; efforts of installation safety offices; and continued collaboration with American Federation of Government Employees Local 987.  

The summer 2013 opening of the FAST FORWARD clinic has also directly benefitted many employees who are treated much quicker on site for various conditions, rather than visiting off-base treatment facilities, added Rappa.  

The clinic, open Monday through Friday from 12:30 to 9:30 p.m., now includes a dedicated nurse practitioner as well as three sports rehabilitation specialists.  

“We’ve been able to remove the barriers to access, allowing employees to come in and be immediately seen, increasing the timeliness to treatment,” said Rappa. “Injuries and other health issues are addressed right away. So because employees are seen earlier, their treatment begins earlier and their conditions don’t progress into something much more serious.”  

As a large and dynamic industrial complex with thousands of employees, OMS at Robins is effectively working to manage the care of work-related conditions. Its providers not only care and follow up with employees, but also actively engage in a worksite visit program throughout the base, assessing hazards and offering ways to reduce injuries and illnesses.  

According to Rappa, since the FAST FORWARD clinic’s opening, he’s seen a 50 percent decrease in the rate of injuries in the complex. 

“I believe the trend will continue as we’re getting more involved in injury prevention,” he said.