The Metro Board has proposed a $60,000 incentive program that would include new television sets or automobiles for Metro employes to discourage them from filing phony workers compensation claims.
The program, part of the Metro budget that was referred to eight local governments for comment yesterday, is one segment of a Metro management effort to reduce skyrocketing workers' compensation claims. These are expected to total $9.2 million in the fiscal year ending June 30 a 29-percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
Precise details of the incentive program have not been worked out because some legal questions need to be answered. In general, employes who had excellent attandance and work records at the various Metro garages would be eligible for a drawing to see who would win the prizes.
Metro General Manager Richard S. Page has said that he regards workers' compensation as a management problem" as well as a problem related to the unusually generous District of Columbia law providing compensation for injured employes.
Some bus drivers and railroad mechanics have said that they file spurious workers' compensation claims "to get back" at Metro for what they describe as nit-picking supervision and uneven discipline, among other complaints. Some employes have talked privately to Page about such problems. c
Under the board proposal, specific quarterly goals would be established for individual Metro garages, and employes in garage meeting those goals would be eligible for the prizes. A total of 32 television sets and two automobiles annually would be available for prizes if all garages qualified every quarter.
The basic legal question, now being studied by Metro's general counsel, is whether such a drawing is legal.
Cleatus Barnett, chairman of the board budget committee, said the incentive proposal passed the committee "on a very close vote" and emphasized that it was "part of a total package . . . We just have to try all possible ways of getting [workers compensation] down," Barnett said.
Other actions include establishing a program to learn what risks to Metro employes might be reduced through improved equipment of procedures, providing lighter work for employes on compensation and paying more attention to treatment times really required to cure specific injuries.
The program is based on an experience with a similar program at the Bi-State Transit in St. Louis, the only transit operation in the United States that has been able to reduce workers' compensation costs recently. Metro officials visited Bi-State and studied the program there before recommending the program proposed here. ion, though, is whether the move leftward will lose him more support tha