Carbon County is keeping work-time injuries at bay and saving money on workers' compensation.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted 2-0 to ratify the proposal from the Housing and Redevelopment Insurance Exchange for workers' compensation insurance for 2014. The total premium payment is $363,791, which is a decrease of $1,118 from 2013; as well as a one-time subscriber's fee of $20,009. Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, was absent.

Commissioner William O'Gurek explained that the county is happy with what is being done to lower the workers' compensation claims.

He noted that in 2008, the county was paying $1,360,000 to the Pennsylvania Counties Workers' Compensation Trust (PComp), when officials decided to accept proposals from other insurance providers.

The county received 13 proposals and interviewed five companies about their policies on claims handling, loss control, risk management and assessment and return to work policies before choosing HARIE on Dec. 12, 2018.

O'Gurek said that the number of claims have been dropping considerably over the last few years, citing the sale of Weatherwood, the county nursing home; the efforts of the safety committee, chaired by Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard; and new procedures at the county prison; as reasons for the drop in the number of claims.

In 2009, the county had 118 claims, totaling approximately $600,000 in workers' compensation. The claims in 2013 dropped to 38, totaling approximately $140,000.

"The work being done here to try and keep people safe and reduce cost is showing in the terms of data we have," O'Gurek said. "We're pretty happy with what is being done here."

In other matters, the commissioners acted on the following items.

Ÿ Approve the 2012-2013 Medical Assistance Transportation Program revised tentative allocation in the amount of $1,598,117. The MATP program, which is operated through Carbon County Community Transit and overseen by LANTA, is designed to help people on medical assistance or with the ACCESS card by providing a free ride to medical appointments.

Ÿ Approve the annual report to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation showing the balance of Act 44 funds for 2013. The reporting requirement is for funds the county received that can only be utilized for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of bridge decks only. The balance as of Dec. 31 is $206,411.41.

Ÿ Approve a letter of understanding submitted by Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC, for financial consulting services for 2014 for a fee not to exceed $75,250.

ŸApprove the request from the purchasing department for permission to extend the current contract with Waste Management of Pennsylvania Inc., for refuse collection to May 1 at the same cost per pick-up. The current contract is set to expire Feb. 28, but additional time is needed to prepare the specifications.

Ÿ Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard announced that a recent fundraiser for the Carbon County Animal Shelter, held on Jan. 6 at Pizza Hut in Lehighton, raised $283, which will be used to offset the cost of caring for the dogs at the shelter.