Brave new world of work: How to keep young workers safe

September 15, 2015 by RoSPA Training

Do you remember your first job? Was it bar work as a student, stacking shelves in the summer holidays or temping in a call centre? Whatever it was, you probably found it a daunting task on your first day. For many young people, the world of work is often a strange and confusing place. Inexperience and lack of trained judgement leaves them more at risk from accidents and damage to their health. In this short post, we look at the risks facing young workers and the steps you can take to protect them…

Young workers law?

Like all other workers, young people at work are protected by the Health and Safety at Work Act and subsidiary legislation, including the Management of Health and Safety at Work (MHSW) Regulations. Regulation 19 of MHSW states that: “Every employer shall ensure that young persons employed by him are protected at work from any risks to their health or safety which are a consequence of their lack of experience, or absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not fully matured”

Why are young workers at risk?

As we discussed in our post ‘5 tips to engage the next generation’, there are numerous reasons why young people are more vulnerable. Common factors for this increased risk include:

  • possible physical and psychological immaturity; pastedGraphic_1.pdf
  • lack of awareness of the risks involved in the work they may be asked to do;
  • ignorance of risks associated with plant, equipment and substances;
  • eagerness to impress or to please

What can I do to keep young workers safe?

The key to ensuring the safety and health of young people in the workplace is having a good health and safety management system that protects everyone. Here is a 12-point checklist for employers with responsibilities for young workers.


What’s That Smell?! When Workplaces Try Fragrance Bans

As a girl, Julie Luettgen hid in her room to escape her mother’s Estee Lauder perfume. As an adult, she finds scents inescapable.

“Everywhere I go — theaters, I’ve been at restaurants — and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, do you smell that?’ It’s terrible,” she says.

Luettgen, a Realtor in Milwaukee, says her nose keeps tabs on co-workers as they come and go. “I can tell who’s been in there just by the smell,” she says.

This isn’t a partyNo Scents Make Sense! graphic trick. For her, fragrances can trigger debilitating migraines. To avoid it, she has clients drive in separate cars. She removes scented plug-ins from homes. And she plans carefully before heading into the office.

“I will text co-workers and just say, ‘Hey, if you’re going to be in today, I’ve got a headache or I’m feeling ill. Could you please not wear cologne?’ If my boss is going to clean the office, he’ll let me know in advance, and I won’t go into the office that day,” she says.

It’s not clear how many suffer from it, though the Society for Human Resource Management says fragrance policies are among the top five inquiries it gets from members. And it’s not always clear what an employer is required to do.

Scott Pollins is an employment lawyer representing a Pennsylvania woman who recently settled a case against her former employer. “It can be difficult to figure out what’s reasonable and what’s not reasonable,” Pollins says.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if an employee has a diagnosed medical condition such as asthma or an allergy triggered by a fragrance, the employer must make accommodations. But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it’s not clear how far an employer must go to accommodate.


Text Reminders Help People Lower Cholesterol, Blood Pressure

Lynne Shallcross, September 22. 2015

Much of the buzz over mobile health interventions seems to be about how we can use an ever-growing variety of shiny new smartphone apps and sensors to better manage our health.

But texting, that old-school technology, may deserve some of that spotlight, too.

Getting texts with motivating and informative messages led patients with coronary heart disease to make behavior changes like exercising more and smoking less, according to a study published smartphone with red cross logoTuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. By the end of the six-month study, patients who had received the text messages had reduced their cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index.

“I have to say, we were pretty surprised that it worked,” says Clara Chow, lead author of the study and program director of community-based cardiac services at Westmead Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

And it worked to improve not just one risk factor for heart disease, but many. “These are the things that medications usually do, not text messages,” says Chow, who is also an associate professor at Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney.

In a randomized clinical trial, more than 700 patients with coronary heart disease were split into two groups: half received four text messages per week for six months plus usual care, while the other half received just usual care.

The texts that patients received were semi-personalized, based on background information about each person, such as smoking status and preferred name. For example, vegetarian participants wouldn’t receive the text message about how grilling steak is healthier than deep-frying it.


8 New Total Worker Health™ Essentials Videos

In a series of 8 short videos, business industry leaders share their experiences with designing, implementing and evaluating Total Worker Health programs, practices and policies. The series is designed to help small businesses utilize innovative techniques to incorporate programs, practices and policies that can be tailored to their workplace.

Video 1: What is Total Worker Health™?

Video 2: Why Total Worker Health™?

Video 3: Management & Employee Involvement

Video 4: Designing Programs

Video 5: Low-Cost Strategies

Video 6: Engaging Employees

Video 7: Evaluating Programs

Video 8: Essential Elements & Closing Tips


Using Job Descriptions to Control Workers Compensation Losses

September 10, 2015 by Michael B. Stack

job description cartoonComplete job descriptions, with proper compliance can help reduce workers compensation loss values.

They can be used both as preventative measure and as a tool to reduce a claim exposure.  Job descriptions that are stated clearly, as well as describe all duties and functions, will bring the most desired results.

Preventative Uses:

  • Job descriptions can be used for pre-employment physical examinations, which can eliminate the physically unqualified who might have an on the job injury.
  • Employment interviewers, using the job description, will be able to screen potential employees.
  • To recognize persons who might violate the job provisions.
  • They should be able to determine persons who can misunderstand functions.
  • Through personnel tests geared to job duties interviewers might be able to discern people with attitude issues.
  • Testing may uncover problems for ability to train, or fail to meet provisions in the job description.

Uses after a loss are presented:

Program to Reduce Work-Family Conflict Pays for Itself


Workplace Intervention Shows Return on Investment for Employers

The Simpsons strangling each otherAn effective program to reduce work-family conflict (WFC) leads to reduced turnover and other cost savings for employers, reports a study in the September Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

“An intervention to reduce WFC can enhance both employees’ health and employers’ business,” according to the new research, led by health economist Carolina Barbosa, PhD, of RTI International, Chicago. Continue reading Program to Reduce Work-Family Conflict Pays for Itself

Is The Sky The Limit? Not When It Comes to Air Ambulance Reimbursement!

By National Workers Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN)

Air ambulanceThere is no limit on how much an air ambulance provider (or any other health care provider, for that matter) can charge for its services or how often it can raise its charges. For example, one of the largest air ambulance providers in Texas, PHI Air Medical, increased its base rate from $11,492.00 in 2010 to $26,177.00 in 2014, a 128% increase. At the same time, it increased its mileage rate from $150.00 per mile to $290.00 per mile, an increase of 93%.

However, the lack of any restrictions on a provider’s billed charges is only a problem when it is held that the provider is entitled to reimbursement of its billed charges. Since January 2014, the Division has been doing just that, issuing medical fee dispute decisions holding that its medical fee guideline does not cover air ambulance services and ordering payment of the air ambulance providers’ billed charges on the grounds that they are “fair and reasonable.”

Many of the Division’s decisions have been appealed to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) where they have been assigned to Administrative Law Judge Craig Bennett. Judge Bennett consolidated a group of early cases between PHI Air Medical and eight insurance carriers. These lead cases will determine the legal issues for the remainder of the air ambulance cases pending at SOAH. James Loughlin with the Firm represents seven of the eight carriers.

Judge Bennett issued a preliminary order on August 5, 2015 announcing his decision that “the proper reimbursement rate for the air ambulance services in issue is 149% of Medicare.”

This is a great victory for the carriers because Judge Bennett has rejected the Division’s position that PHI’s billed charges are fair and reasonable, he has concluded that reimbursement should be Medicarebased, i.e., a percentage of the Medicare rate, and he has picked a percentage which is not much higher in dollar terms than 125% of Medicare.

The carriers paid PHI at 125% of the Medicare rate based on their understanding that the Division’s fee guideline applies to ambulance services. The difference between the 125% paid by the carriers and the 149% determined by Judge Bennett to be fair and reasonable is less than 13% of the amount sought by PHI which was based on its claim that it is entitled to reimbursement of its billed charges.

CA Labor Enforcement Task Force to Prevent Worker Fatalities and Serious Injuries


Oakland, CA ( – California’s Labor Equipment is Rate R signEnforcement Task Force (LETF) has discovered safety violations during targeted inspections this month that put workers in immediate danger of serious injuries (including amputations, paralysis and fractures) and fatalities. The task force immediately issuedorders stopping work at four sites, preventing injuries and requiring employers to correct the hazardous conditions.

LETF is a coalition of California State and local enforcement agencies that formed in 2012 to combat the underground economy. LETF teams conduct monthly inspections targeting employers in high-risk industries. On August 19 investigators discovered serious safety violations at a food processing plant in Yuba City, a roofing operation in San Diego, and a garment factory in Los Angeles. A fourth violation was discovered on August 25 at a plastering operation in San Diego.

“The underground economy exposes workers to dangerous job conditions and financial abuse,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). “These inspections give us an opportunity to help employers understand how best to protect their employees.” LETF operates under the direction of DIR. Continue reading CA Labor Enforcement Task Force to Prevent Worker Fatalities and Serious Injuries

Raising Pay Can Reduce Smoking Rates

Increasing the minimum wage could benefit health

Infographic: effects of smoking on the bodyIn addition to restricting when and where tobacco is used at work, UC Davis Health System research shows that employers can do something else to reduce smoking: raise wages.

Published in the August issue of the Annals of Epidemiology, the study found that a 10 percent increase in wages leads to about a 5 percent drop in smoking rates among workers who are male or who have high school educations or less and improves their overall chances of quitting smoking from 17 to 20 percent.

“Our findings are especially important as inflation-adjusted wages for low-income jobs have been dropping for decades and the percentage of workers in low-paying jobs has been growing nationwide,” said study senior author Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences and researcher with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis. “Increasing the minimum wage could have a big impact on a significant health threat.”

Smoking rates are declining in the U.S., but it remains the leading cause of preventable deaths from illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Leigh and lead author Juan Du, who received her doctoral degree at UC Davis, wanted to know if wage changes could leverage a further reduction in the number of people who smoke.

The team evaluated data on wages, smoking status and state of residence for full-time employees aged 21 to 65 years from the 1999 to 2009 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. They excluded those under 21, since wage variation is small for this age group. They also excluded those who never smoked, as the goal was to evaluate influences on quitting rather than starting smoking.

“We assume that people begin smoking for reasons other than wages,” said Leigh. “About 90 percent of smokers in the United States started smoking before age 20, so the data captured a sample of most full-time workers who have ever smoked.”