On behalf of the Department of Consumer and Business Services and the Workers’ Compensation Division, welcome to the 2016 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship from the International Workers’ Compensation Foundation, this conference brings the workers’ compensation community together to learn about significant issues and improvements to the system.
The division has undergone extensive changes this year, especially in management. After former Administrator John Shilts retired, I was asked to lead the division, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the Oregon workers’ compensation system.
Sally Coen has taken on the role of deputy administrator. Many of you know Sally from her long service in the division. I am grateful to Sally for her wise counsel and the experience she brings to the deputy position.
Although I have been in the role of administrator for only a few months, I am not new to workers’ compensation. I previously served as the department’s senior policy advisor and legislative coordinator in the Director’s Office for nearly 10 years. My responsibilities included being the administrator of the workers’ compensation Management-Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) and coordinating efforts on legislation related to workers’ compensation. I left the Director’s Office to become the Oregon insurance commissioner from 2011 to 2013.
My background includes a number of different positions, all of which have hopefully helped to give me a broad perspective. I served as director of Multnomah County Legal Aid, state director for Oregon Congressman (now Senator) Ron Wyden’s office, and worked in a private law practice. Before accepting the position as administrator of the division, I spent 2½ years in Tunisia doing law reform work as a consultant and providing training for attorneys in North Africa and the Middle East.
Anyone who is familiar with Oregon’s workers’ compensation system knows that it is a national success story. We have been able to keep rates low while still providing good benefits for injured workers. That being said, we cannot simply rely on our past successes. With rapid changes in the workplace and an often volatile economy, it is important that we maintain the integrity of the system. Our day-to-day work must function in a way to give workers confidence that they will be receiving the benefits to which they are entitled and employers the confidence that their premiums will be affordable.
The division is working hard to be proactive, increase our outreach, and anticipate problems before they become issues, as well as engaging our community. We are doing this by increasing employee and management visibility and providing stakeholders with dependable and engaged service.
I am looking forward to working closely with workers, businesses, and other stakeholders to build on Oregon’s workers’ compensation success story and address the emerging needs of Oregon’s changing workplaces.
Thank you for attending our conference. I plan to be present during the entire event, so please introduce yourself if we don’t already know each other. And if we do, please stop me to say hello.
Remember that we always want to hear your feedback and input. If there is anything we can do to improve the conference or to better meet your needs, please let us know.
Lou Savage, Administrator, Workers’ Compensation Division