State of Utah’s Workplace Safety Grant Nationally Recognized - 2018 NASCA Innovation in State Government Award Winner

Sunday, November 11, 2019


Photo of 2018 NASCA Innovation in State Government Award Winner[Omaha, Nebraska] Friday, October 19, 2018 – The State of Utah has been named the winner in the category of Financial Services for the 2018 National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) Innovation in State Government Award, honoring best-in-class initiatives within the state government administration.

The State of Utah developed a Workplace Safety Grant with funding provided from the dividends from the state’s worker’s compensation provider based on loss ratio performance. Through much work including safety campaigns, client meetings, and other safety promotions, the state lowered its workers’ compensation claim frequency and severity. In 2016, recognizing state employees contributions, the Division of Risk Management (DRM) decided to improve the state’s safety culture and show state employees they are an asset by using the dividends to invest in people while improving safety for state employees.

The nationally recognized efforts were focused a creative solution to a common state problem - limited funding to invest in new proper or update safety equipment, multiplying the long-term financial and resource cost to the state in injuries, temporary workers, and outside vendors.

“This project was an innovative way to invest in people, programs and improve processes.” Stated Tani Downing, the Executive Director of the Department of Administrative Services for the State of Utah. “There was no one-size-fits-all approach or any mandate other than to improve safety. Agencies were empowered to take control and ownership of their risks and use the funds to mitigate them.”

While the focus of the grant is safety, the state has gained efficiencies including fewer employee injuries resulting in lower claim costs, reduced absenteeism and business interruption, increased productivity, and enhanced employee morale.

When the Department of Transportation installed jib cranes on 24 trucks, morale increased, work was completed faster, and fewer injuries led to decreased spending on temporary workers. Before they had their safety equipment, state arborists couldn’t complete do everything assigned in their workload and had to hire outside companies for certain services. Furthermore, with grant funds the Utah State Development Center purchased four Arjo Maxi Move Lifts so staff no longer needed to manually lift individuals leading to a 41% decrease in lifting and supporting injuries and a 56% decrease in workers’ compensation claims from the previous year.

“The Workplace Safety Grant’s serves as a promising example for peer states. This program transformed morale and reallocated resources with minimal inputs and staff,” said Sarah Razor, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Administrators.  “Its scalability makes it a viable program for any state. The criteria driven by the state can be shaped to fit the unique goals and funding available.”

“One of the greatest improvements seen is how employees view their own agency and DRM. This safety grant fostered employee confidence in agencies; they feel more appreciated and know they are a valuable asset to the State of Utah,” Said Downing.

The NASCA Innovation in State Government Awards are the premier awards program in recognizing state government operational innovations and leadership. The nominations are reviewed by experienced state chief administrators and subject matter experts from the private sector based on innovationability to transfer or replicate the initiative to other state and local governments, and efficiencies created.   NASCA recognized the 2018 award winners at the Institute on Management and Leadership, a premier and engaging two-day executive education program led by the Leadership for a Networked World at Harvard University. (

The full nomination is available in NASCA’s Resource Library,  For more information about NASCA’s Innovation in State Government Awards, please visit


The National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) is the leading organization advancing professional development and best management solutions for the administrative functions of state government. The association provides state chief administrators with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of state government administration through education, networking and information exchange on state government trends, leading edge innovations, standards and best practices. NASCA’s mission is to help state chief administrators and their teams strategically transform state government operations through the power of shared knowledge and thought leadership.

For more information about NASCA visit

Jamie Rodgers
Deputy Director
National Association of State Chief Administrators
(859) 402-9811
[email protected]