OSHA Dialogue on Hazardous Work Chemical Exposures

Caution! Hazardous Chemicals signWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced it is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.

OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current PELs, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency’s current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful. Substantial resources are required to issue new exposure limits or update existing workplace exposure limits, as courts have required complex analyses for each proposed PEL.

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This Agency Is Giving $1,500 to Each Employee to Go on an Exotic Vacation

‘Some people might call this crazy’ But here’s why.
By Rebecca Cullers

In our latest installment of places where you wish you worked, a California creative agency named thinkParallax recently gave each one of its employees $1,500 and an extra paid day off to travel somewhere they’ve never been and get inspired. The catch? They have to blog about their journey.

tourist standing in front of Machu Pichu

“Some people might call this crazy. We’re calling it Parallaxploration,” says the agency. Which is great because parallax is the difference in perspective you get by looking at the same object from two different positions. In other words, the agency’s very name suggests that traveling to new places gives you a new perspective on the same old thing.

“The goal of Parallaxploration is not only to ensure happy employees, but also to provide them with energizing experiences that will allow them to continue creating exceptional work for our clients,” the agency adds.
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How Would An Ebola Pandemic Affect Work Comp?

 graph showing death rates of other diseases compared to ebola

What does 1918 have to do with Ebola and work comp in 2014? Unfortunately a great deal. In 1918, the final year of World War I, the world saw a pandemic of influenza with the most deaths of any single event in world history – estimated to be 50,000,000 world wide, with 800,000+ in the United States in one year.

The pandemic came in two waves six months apart. The first was mild but the second was the killer. The virus had quickly mutated.

Work comp in NY was four years old in 1918 but the influenza event doesn’t seem to have received a single mention in the NY work comp cases. Perhaps that is due to the fact that communicable diseases were not yet covered under a law that was intended for heavy, dangerous work and covered only accidents, not diseases.

How Would An Ebola Pandemic Affect Work Comp?

What would be the effects of a pandemic be on work comp in the US? Certainly they will not be the same as they were in 1918. If we use the response to 9/11 as a guide, as many Ebola incidents as possible will be covered under work comp laws. The deaths on 9/11 were about 3000. The final number of occupational disease claims for first responders will surely be many multiples of the first day deaths.

It is difficult to imagine that work comp could resist expansion to cover Ebola when the largest available insurance program, in terms of percentage of workers covered, is work comp.  Continue reading How Would An Ebola Pandemic Affect Work Comp?

Beating Fat Employees with a Stick

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Employee Wellness program graphic chartThe increasing girth of the average American is becoming a pretty weighty issue, and employers tired of having paint scraped off door frames are beginning to take notice. Some are beginning to turn away from incentive based health programs to efforts that actually punish employees or restrict benefits for those who do not participate. Excessive weight in America, it turns out, is a really big fat problem.

7 in 10 Americans are now overweight, with more than one third classified as obese. It is a surprising and disturbing statistic. I’ll tell you, I almost dropped my Tootsie Roll when I read it.

For a number of years many employers have been offering wellness programs in the hope that the tubbo’s on their payroll (statistically most of us, including yours truly) would participate and develop a healthier and less expensive (or expansive?) lifestyle. Alas, it was not to be. I maintain they would have had better success if they had offered ice cream and pizza to encourage people to get with the program, but what do I know? It just seems that dropping pounds and getting healthy is too hard to be attempted just because it is good for us.

No, we need to be beaten with a stick to get the point across. Continue reading Beating Fat Employees with a Stick

OSHA Top 10 List Can Help You Avoid Costly Penalties

By ReduceYourWorkersComp 
graphic for OSHA Top 10 Violations listOkay, as far as entertainment value goes, it may not rival late night television hosts and their opening monologues, but OSHA did publish its list of the “Top 10” most frequently cited construction standards, following inspections of work sites in 2013.

No, OSHA was not intent on pitting itself against the likes of David Letterman or Conan O’Brien in a comedic battle of wits. Rather, it was attempting a pre-emptive strike, aimed at saving businesses from needlessly paying out high penalty fees (up to $7,000 for a serious violation, and as much as $70,000 for repeated or willful viol

Top 10 Lists Alerts Employers About Commonly Cited Standards

OSHA annually publishes this “Top 10” list to alert employers about commonly cited standards, so employers can take steps to find and mend recognized hazards before OSHA ever takes punitive action against a company. Normally, OSHA does not grant advanced notice of its inspections, and inspections are generally performed at sites where imminently dangerous situations are known, fatalities or catastrophes have occurred, complaints or referrals have been given, the work site has been issued a citation in the past, or inspections may be pre-planned or programmed.

While it poses no threat to replace the heroes of late night television, OSHA is meeting its goal of reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace.
Continue reading OSHA Top 10 List Can Help You Avoid Costly Penalties

Why Hold Weekly Meetings With Injured Employees?

 October 3, 2013 by Michael B. Stack
illustration of employees meeting with profit graph arrowEvery injured employee on transitional duty should meet WEEKLY with the Transitional Duty (TD) Coordinator, if your company has one, or the supervisor in charge the injured worker’s return to work. There are many benefits to weekly meetings. Among them are:
It keeps employees in the loop at the workplace.

This keeps them mentally engaged in your workplace, and thus more likely to fully recover and return to work. It also keeps the employee socially connected to theirco-workers and supervisors. Employees who feel valued, important and supported are more likely to want to return to work quicker.

It gives employers the opportunity to determine increased capacity for transitional duty assignments.

These meetings help determine if increasing strength or capability is possible to allow the employee to assume additional job tasks. There should be a gradually increasing capacity. The employee should bring any recent medical information to the meeting. This should include any changes in medications, work restrictions and recommendations. It is good to vary the time of the meeting each week to see if the employee’s work capacity varies at different times of the day or week. For employees who cannot attend on site meetings, you might discuss options for a field-based nurse case manager to visit the employees.

It lets employees bring up any obstacles to returning to work.

Sometimes there may be simple reasonable accommodations that an employer can provide, such as an ergonomic chair or keyboard, that can help an employeereturn to work quicker. However, unless the employer knows about the difficulties the employee has, the employer will not be able to address these needs. You canfind a vendor that provides off-site employment temporarily for employees who are unable to travel or for any other reason cannot come back to a transitional duty position in your facility.

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Never Take Temp Worker Safety for Granted

By ReduceYourWorkersComp

t-shirt that reads, "Temporary Employee. Please don't ask me any hard questions."While many employers will use temporary workers during the year, do they look at them just as closely as their regular employees when it comes to safety measures?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently released Recommended Practices for staffing agencies and host employers to better protect temporary workers from hazards on the job.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels made the announcement at the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association annual conference in National Harbor, Md. The new Recommended Practices publication highlights the joint responsibility of the staffing agency and host employer to ensure temporary workers are provided a safe work environment.

“An employer’s commitment to the safety of temporary workers should not mirror these workers’ temporary status,” said Dr. Michaels. “Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. Staffing agencies and the host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions. Our new Recommended Practices publication highlights this joint responsibility.”

Temps See Increased Risk of Problems

Continue reading Never Take Temp Worker Safety for Granted

Fighting Back…The War Against Skin Cancer

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man's sunburned back spelling out, "UV Damage"Playing a round of golf without taking the proper precautions can lead to something far more dangerous than uncomfortable sunburn. Damaged cells can develop into a life-threatening cancer known as melanoma.

Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of skin color.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer develops when skin cells are irreversibly damaged and begin to grow and divide uncontrollably. Skin cancer can spread and cause destruction of nearby healthy tissue as well as to other parts of the body.

Leading Causes

Sun exposure and indoor tanning are leading causes of skin cancer. Increased likelihood to develop skin cancer is at­tributed to sun exposure time, frequency and intensity. Even laying out during the summers years ago increases one’s lifetime risk.

Prevention

Never use a tanning bed or sun lamp. Research shows that using a tanning bed increases your risk of getting the most le­thal type of skin cancer (Melanoma) by 75%.

Limit exposure time. Whenever possible, limit time outside when the sun is strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.).

Use sunscreen and lip balm. Every day, apply sunscreen to all skin that will be ex­posed to the sun (face, ears, hands, neck, etc.). Use only products with labels that say UVA/UVB or broad-spectrum pro­tection and provide sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

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Is Your Comp Medical Provider Brochure Complete?

Questions like these are probably keeping you awake at night.

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cover of Workers' Comp Medical Provider brochureIf it seems like there is a never-ending trail of paperwork and computer files to go over, that is likely the case.

One of the many facets of running a business is looking out for your employees, especially there physical well-being. It is almost a given that some of them will suffer some sort of injury while under your employ. As a result, it is critical that you have plans in place to quickly and effectively treat them.

With that in mind, it is more than a good idea that you have in place a brochure for the doctors and clinics that will ultimately care for your injured workers.

Make sure these 10 items are part of the brochure:

  1. Company description – This can be brief, but should be an overview of what your business does;
  2. Company location – In the event the company is nearby, it doesn’t hurt to encourage provider visits;
  3. Company job descriptions – This is where you want to explain the original work that was undertaken;
  4. Company description for transitional duty program – In this arena, be sure to include the purpose behind and importance to your business;
  5. Company necessity for medical limitations/abilities on initial visit – Keep in mind that this is very important so that the claim does not turn into a lost-time claim;
  6. Company sample transitional duty job descriptions – Here is where you describe possible modifications and alternative positions as examples. Make sure you are clear to customize positions to fit whatever restrictions are in place;

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