by Faith Hoyt
Adventist academies and elementary schools are putting unused California Workers Compensation funds to good use through projects that increase campus and workplace safety.
In 2015, the required reserves in the Self-Insured California Workers Compensation exceeded the requirement from the State of California, meaning excess monies were available to be returned or designated for special projects. The Workers Comp Board for the Pacific Union decided to create a renovation fund and made the funds available to schools within the four California conferences for safety enhancement projects.
“This program has been a real blessing as there is more than one benefit; yes, the primary goal is improving employee safety, but along with that it also improves student safety and additionally, many of the projects visually improve the look of the campus,” said Stephen Mayer, treasurer of the Pacific Union. “In many cases, it has a three-fold benefit to our schools.”
According to Mayer, data reveals that schools incur the most claims to the fund, and academies comprised 79 percent of the those claims. The highest claim category for the Pacific Union are slips, trips, and falls. “The Workers Comp board really wants to see the amount of injuries reduced and since there was extra funding, why not use these funds to try to prevent injuries?” Mayer said.
The Union designated 2 million dollars for Workers Compensation Employee Safety Funds in 2015, and in 2016, the Workers Compensation Board voted that 1 million more be made available for school employee safety projects. Due to the success of the program and ongoing successful reduction of claim costs, the board continued to allocate 1 million dollars in 2018 and in 2019. Altogether, 5 million dollars has been reinvested back into Employee Safety Projects.
Each of the four conferences in California received a portion of the 5 million dollars. The Central California Conference was allocated $930, 164, of which $629, 094 has been utilized; the Northern California Conference was allocated $1, 269, 359, of which $916, 092 has been utilized; the Southeastern California Conference was allocated $1, 704, 360, of which $1, 338, 352 has been utilized; and finally, the Southern California Conference was allocated $1, 077, 605, of which $756, 952 has been utilized.*
Recent renovation projects include sidewalk and flooring repairs, replacement of AC units, lighting upgrades, asphalt blacktop repairs and installation of fences around school property.
Schools who received funding include San Francisco Adventist School, Templeton Hills Adventist School, Central Valley Christian Academy, Redlands Adventist Academy, Simi Valley SDA School, Moreno Valley Christian School, Needles SDA School, Antelope Valley Adventist School, Linda Vista Elementary, Loma Linda Academy, and Newbury Park Adventist Academy.
“At NPAA, the safety of our students is of the utmost importance,” said Sheldon Parris, principal at Newbury Park Adventist Academy. “Our sidewalks had been lifted and uneven for some time and posed a risk for those who walk our campus. The workers’ compensation fund allowed us to redo our sidewalks and make our campus safer. We are certainly grateful.”
California schools interested in funds for employee safety renovations should submit a request through their local conference. Projects must be started, and the first draw taken within a 12-month timeframe, or the project allocation will be returned to the Workers Compensation Safety Fund pool. Projects that qualify for funding include repairing walkways and uneven or broken pavement, broken or hazardous fixtures, purchase of safety equipment to prevent injury and enhance personal safety, broken or damaged glass and/or upgrades to safety glass in high frequency areas, handrail installation, stairway repairs, and other improvements to employee safety.
“The number one goal of this program is to protect the life and safety of our most important asset, our employees!” Mayer added. “Every injury prevented is funding that can be spent on our primary mission, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ!”
*Amounts as of December 2019—some monies will be distributed upon completion of projects currently underway.
Top of page: Loma Linda Academy in Loma Linda, Calif., received approximately $12, 000 from the renovation fund for a scissor lift to safely enable employees to safely change light bulbs.
Rio Lindo Academy launched a road repair project in 2017 which utilized $130, 000 of the Pacific Union’s renovation fund.
The San Antonio Christian School in Ontario, Calif., utilized approximately $48, 000 of the Pacific Union renovation fund to install fencing on the school property.