Worker's Compensation is a significant issue in the 2013 legislative session as well as for business owners throughout the state.

The Southern Oklahoma Leaders Lunch Thursday afternoon focused on compensation defense to enable area employers to protect themselves against fraudulent worker's comp claims. Discussion also took place on how better to work with employees toward meeting an amicable agreement.

The lunch took place at the Michelin plant, during which Stephanie Andrews, Facility Personnel Manager, gave an overview of the company and local plant. Built in 1979 by Uniroyal, the plant was purchased by Michelin in 1990. Since Michelin has owned the Ardmore facility, the plant has endured damage from a tornado that caused $44 million in damage and $68 million in lost sales.

The plant rebounded and employs 1,860 people drawn from a 50-mile radius. The plant operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and produces 30,225 tires a day.

C. Magan Graham, associate attorney, Connie M. Wolfe & Associates PLLC, delivered the presentation on worker's comp. Several human resource managers in attendance were able to take advantage of several talking points, which were based on following a procedure when a claim is filed.

Graham stressed the importance so safety programs as well as procedures put in place to protect the employer and to work with the employee should an accident take place. She provided keys to successfully handling a claim, which are:

• Attitude

• Interviewing

• Accuracy

• Consistency

• Thoroughness

Graham also said it is important to have a light duty program in place to keep employees productive and help transition them back into the workforce for full duty employment. She also outlined defenses for employers' protection when determining whether or not the injury falls under the company's liability.

The Southern Oklahoma Leaders Lunch series will take a hiatus during the summer and will reconvene at noon, Sept. 12 at the Ardmore Convention Center. The topic will be Healthcare law — The Affordable Care Act.

Michael Pineda