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Workers’ compensation costs are a critical concern for manufacturers in any economy—and often exacerbated during economic downturn. Workers’ compensation lost time claims increased three percent in 2010, the first increase in such claims in over 20 years. But that doesn’t mean companies are powerless to control the cost of workers’ comp in their manufacturing facilities.

Kennametal, Inc. is a case in point. In its 2008 fiscal year, the Pennsylvania-based company set a two-year goal to slash in half what at the time totaled $2.8 million in annual workers’ comp costs. The company exceeded that goal in less than 18 months, according to Michael P. Murphy, manager of global property and casualty insurance at the $2.4 billion specialty materials manufacturer. Today, the company has reduced workers’ comp claims by 57 percent—and slashed total workers’ compensation costs by a whopping 60 percent.

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