Michael O’Riordan

Types of wellness programs used by employers based on number of employeesAugust 29, 2012 (Munich, Germany) — Preliminary data from a work fitness program suggests that prevention strategies might be more effective if they target individuals in the workplace rather than the doctor’s office. The program, started in 2005, reduced the rates of smoking, improved blood pressure control, reduced the incidence of metabolic syndrome, and improved the 10-year predicted risk of cardiovascular disease, according to researchers.

“The workplace is the ideal setting for primary and secondary prevention, because there we can get access to all patients at risk,” said Dr Johannes Scholl (Prevention First, Ruedesheim, Germany) during a presentation closing out the European Society of Cardiology 2012 Congress. “Close cooperation between respective departments of occupational medicine and specialist prevention clinics is the basis for good compliance and success.”

For Scholl, the workplace is better suited for primary and secondary prevention, as many younger patients, including those with undetected hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels, are not frequent users of primary-care physicians. As a result, many of their cardiovascular risk factors go untreated.

Fit in Life, Fit on the Job

Initiated in 2004 and known as the “Fit in Life, Fit on the Job” program, Boehringer Ingelheim employees in Germany were enrolled through the department of occupational medicine. During their index visit, physical examinations and family-history assessments were performed, and all biometric data recorded. Two weeks later, employees went to the Prevention First clinic for a more complete assessment, including baseline carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements, fitness testing to maximal exhaustion, and a full cardiovascular risk assessment. After these examinations, individuals were shown their 10-year and longer-term risk of cardiovascular disease and prescribed comprehensive nutritional and exercise recommendations. Continue reading

Temporary or Part-Time Workers have 50 Percent Higher Injury Rate than Permanent Workers

By ReduceYourWorkersComp

Part time help wanted sign but be carefullA recent report from Safe Work Australia found that temporary or part-time workers recorded a work-related injury rate 50 percent higher than permanent workers in 2009-10 with females reporting a significantly higher rate of injuries per hour worked than males.

The report, Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age (2009-2010), examines the work-related injury experience of male and female workers across different age groups.

The report also provides data that can assist industry identify demographics where work health and safety can be improved.

In 2009-10, close to 640 000 workers reported they had suffered a work-related injury which is close to triple the population of a city the size of Hobart reporting a work-related injury.

While males recorded a 19 percent fall in the number of injuries incurred at work since 2005-06 the number for females increased by 11 percent. Although the decrease is reassuring the fact injury rates for females increased indicates that as a nation more effort is needed to improve work health and safety for our workers.

Other key findings of the report include:

● Temporary or part-time workers reported 54 injuries per million hours worked compared with a rate of 35 for those with leave entitlements.
● Working under shift arrangements or as a part-time worker was also associated with higher rates of injury. Half of all female workers worked part-time in 2009-10.
● For each hour worked females had a 28 percent higher risk of injury compared with male workers.
● High rates of injury were experienced in the accommodation and food services industry. This industry has high levels of temporary or part-time and part-time work.
● The most common cause of injury across all age groups was sprain/strain.
● Workers aged 15-24 recorded rates of injury substantially higher than other age groups.

Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-10 is available at: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au

New Opioids to Reduce Abuse and Workers’ Comp Costs

graphic of person made of prescription pillsPrescription Drugs Major Expense in Insurance Claims

Recent trends in auditing the expenses within insurance claims point to prescription medication as being one of the major expenses involved in these insurance claims. Within these costs, opioid pain medications tend to lead the way as some of the most expensive medications out there. It seems that physicians can be rather quick to prescribe Vicodin and OxyContin for the general strain injury, and of course the prescription of these medications can lead to a ton of problems, namely addiction and overall general misuse, which can complicate a claim tenfold.

Drug Manufacturers Looking for Answer to Addictive Side Effects

Faced with intensive scrutiny, drug manufacturers have been scrambling to come up with alternatives to lessen the side effects of these very strong pain relievers. Probably the most common new tactic being created are ways to “disable” the medication when crushed, so when the actual tablet is tampered with it will lessen the potency, thereby making any misuse less attractive to the drug abuser, which also should decrease the overall street demand for the drug.

In addition to Vicodin and OxyContin, which have lead the way in the newspaper headlines, insurance carriers started to see an increase in the prescription drug Opana, which generally has effects similar to those of OxyContin.

To refresh your memory, this certain classification of medication is used for treating severe breakthrough pain in acute injuries. Other medications that have stereotypically had a negative connotation within the insurance claim world include Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and to a lesser extent Ultram, Flexeril, Percocet, and the like.

Continue reading New Opioids to Reduce Abuse and Workers’ Comp Costs

New App Helps Keep Workers Safer in Hot Weather

Smart Phone App Helps Keep Workers Safe During Hot Weather
By WorkersCompensation.com 02/08/2012 11:55:00

hot app for smart phones to protect workers from heat related illnessFor construction and agricultural workers as well as others who work outside, high temperatures can pose a significant health risk. Now employees have a new tool in the box—or app on the phone—to keep them safer on the job.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a Heat Safety Tool that provides safety information on a mobile phone. Using the app, workers and supervisors can calculate the heat index for their worksite.

“Whether you are harvesting blueberries or paving a road, working outdoors can pose a dange  when the temperature soars, especially for people not used to being out in hot weather,” Commissioner of Labor Robert Winglass said. “This app is a simple way to keep an eye on both the temperature and worker safety.”

The heat index, a measurement of air temperature in relation to relative humidity, was developed based on studies of skin cooling through the evaporation of sweat. It indicates what the temperature “feels like,” and rises when there is high humidity in addition to high air temperatures.

In  areas where truly hot periods spike less frequently people are often unused to the higher temperatures, so extra precautions are warranted.

Based on the heat index, the heat safety app displays a message for people working outdoors. It also provides reminders for the precautions that should be taken at certain risk levels. These protective measures include drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, and adjusting work operations. The app also provides information on heat illness signs and symptoms and guides supervisors and workers on how to build the workload up gradually for new workers and how employees should monitor each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.

The new app is also useful for people to choose to do yard work or play or exercise outdoors during periods of high temperatures.

The app is available for iPhone and Android phones, in either English or Spanish versions, here: www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/heatindex/heatapp.html.


Estimating the Duration of an Injury

Practical workplace safety process chartThe doctors and staff at Central Coast Industrial Care know that an effective transitional duty program benefits both the patient and the employer. This brief overview may help you prepare to discuss such a program with your claims adjuster and the employee.

How long should the recovery period last for an injured employee?
Try to determine from the beginning, how long it will take an employee to return to work in transitional capacity, or to full duty and to maximum medical improvement (MMI). Adjusters have resources to determine the normal length of disability. You can use these tools also.

Ask your claims adjusters how they estimate the length of disability.
Guidelines are approximate recovery times based on injury severity.

If the injury duration guidelines state the length of time for the injury is one week and your employee’s physician says the employee will be out for five weeks, a disparity may exist.

However, there may be complicating medical factors as well. Every medical situation is different. Conditions such as diabetes can compound the length of recuperation.

If a disparity in the timeframe exists, ask your medical department to call the treating doctor to discuss the case doctor-to-doctor.
If the treating doctor has prescribed an extended time out of work, perhaps the doctor is unaware your company has a transitional duty program designed to accommodate all temporary restrictions.