May 20, 2011

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has released an audit of the Worker’s Compensation program showing reduced costs. Lamb says recommendations he made when he took office have produced the savings. Improving safety procedures has reduced the overall number of claims, and legacy claims have gone down 36%. The city has hired a firm to negotiate one-time settlements in today’s dollars for claims that would otherwise go on for years and years.

The city outsources all worker’s compensation legal services, but Lamb says the provider (O’Brien, Rulis and Bochicchio) has been receiving $25,000 a month without providing any itemization of legal services performed or rates charged as required in the contract. Lamb says itemization should be required as a “sound basis for assessing the economy of the current contract, especially if the number of legacy claims continues to be reduced.”

Lamb also thinks worker’s comp should be included in the budget for each city department as a further incentive for department heads to get people back to work as soon as possible. He thinks the worker’s compensation provider is doing a good job of getting injured workers the care and rehabilitation they need to get back to work or managing their claims when unable to work.