‘Tis the Season of Toasting – A Cautionary Tale from NJ

Employer Loses Intoxication Defense Where Blood Alcohol Level Of Claimant Was .173 Percent

By National Workers Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN) 11/23/2016

photo of cocktail, car keys, handcuffsOne of the most anachronistic aspects of New Jersey workers’ compensation law is that employers pay workers’ compensation benefits even when intoxication is a substantial cause of injury.

In Diaz v. National Retail Transportation, Inc., A-3927-14T2 (App. Div. November 9, 2016), Antonio Diaz was injured moving a heavy lift which fell over on him.  He admitted that prior to work on January 28, 2014, he drank at least two eight-ounce glasses of half whisky and half ice and water.  Respondent’s toxicologist testified at trial that petitioner had a blood alcohol level of at least .173 percent.  Had petitioner been driving, that percentage would have been more than double the legal limit.

Respondent denied the workers’ compensation claim on the basis that petitioner’s intoxication was the cause of the injury based on the expert testimony of respondent’s toxicologist.  Petitioner argued that there was another factor which contributed to the injury, namely a flat tire on the lift.  He said that the lift fell over when it “tilted to one side at the same moment” that he was pulling the lift.  He noted that one of the tires on the lift was flat.

Respondent produced a forensic engineering expert, who testified that “a flat tire didn’t contribute in any way to this accident.” The expert did concede that a flat tire on the lift could have caused the lift to tilt to one side or the other.  The expert conceded that if someone pulled the lift backwards and it had a flat tire, the lift could fall backwards “cockeyed.” The expert said, however, that the lift with a flat tire would tilt only a very small amount, only the one inch that the equipment is off the ground.


What Brain Science Says About How To Manage Your Time To Be More Successful

brain made with computer chips
This is your brain on chips

LaRae Quy
November 16, 2016

When I was deeply involved in an investigation, I could no longer efficiently manage my time. My workouts and journal writing would be among the first victims of my busy schedule. Time for maintaining friendships was the next to go, and finally, no time for reading, either.

I spent years thinking this was a normal reaction if I wanted to do everything in my power to stop criminals. I accepted the fact that a demanding job required trade-offs in the rest of my life.

Randi Zuckerberg called it the entrepreneur’s dilemma: “Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.” To be successful, you must make sacrifices. Big ones.
Continue reading What Brain Science Says About How To Manage Your Time To Be More Successful

Study Tests Accuracy of Heart Rate Monitors in Apple Watch, Fitbit, Basis, and Mio

Satish Misra, MD | October 13, 2016

photo of SmartWatchHeart Rate Monitor.In a recent study published in JAMA Cardiology, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic tested the accuracy of heart rate monitoring in several popular wearables including the Apple Watch, Fitbit Charge, Mio Alpha, and Basis Peak.

Given the lack of oversight for many connected health devices and wearable health devices, there’s been growing interest from many academic medical centers to independently test these devices. For example, we previously went through a study testing the accuracy of Fitbit’s step tracking.

Heart rate monitoring is built into many wearables and fitness trackers. Because their intended use is general wellness, as opposed to management of any specific health condition, they don’t generally fall under regulatory oversight. However, we’ve certainly seen many reports of use for management of health conditions, like a recent anecdotal story about using the Fitbit’s heart rate tracker to help manage atrial fibrillation. And there some health conditions, like atrial fibrillation, where simple heart rate tracking could be useful – if its accurate. Continue reading Study Tests Accuracy of Heart Rate Monitors in Apple Watch, Fitbit, Basis, and Mio

2 Must Have Concepts For Your Injury Response Message

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com 11/14/2016
In Case of Workplace Injury poster from Central Coast IndustrialCare in Santa Maria, CA

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Central Coast IndustrialCare has “In the Event of Work Injury” laminated posters and wallet cards available in English and Spanish.
Just email our Client Services Manager, Susan Berban.
High quality, and simple. High quality, and simple. High quality, and simple. Those two concepts are the cornerstones of the clothing brand Patagonia’s business philosophy.

High Quality & Simple

I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx, and I was recently up in Freeport, Maine with my wife celebrating our eighth year anniversary on a little getaway. Now, she needed a raincoat so we spent some time in the Patagonia outlet, and I picked up the book written by their founder Yvon Chouinard. As I was reading it that day and later following to finish it, these two concepts resonated throughout the 258-page book for their business success and the foundation of that company.

Employee’s Bombarded With Information

It got me really thinking as I was reading this book, is how these two concepts can really be applied to Workers’ Compensation, particularly in the communication and the messaging to our employees. Because the reality is that employees today are just bombarded with information on a day-to-day basis of things that they need to understand, and a lot of times need to put into action. Continue reading 2 Must Have Concepts For Your Injury Response Message

Urine Big Trouble: OSHA Clarifies Circumstances Under Which Post-Accident Drug Testing Violates Federal Law

By National Workers Compensation Defense Network (NWCDN) 11/11/2016

urine testing chart and sample bottleThis month the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a memorandum which seeks to clarify the extent to which OSHA will consider post-accident drug and alcohol testing to be a violation of federal regulations.

The memorandum addresses questions that have arisen about a rule that OSHA published in May. That rule, theElectronic Recordkeeping Rule, prohibits retaliation against employees who report workplace injuries and illnesses.

In comments to that rule OSHA previously stated that the rule “does prohibit employers from using drug testing (or the threat of drug testing) as a form of adverse action against employees who report injuries or illnesses.” Those comments ignited a firestorm, and since then there has been debate as to whether all post-accident drug or alcohol testing is now prohibited.

In the new memorandum, dated October 19, 2016, OSHA’s answer to that question is “no.” It explains that the rule does not prohibit  employers from drug testing employees who report work-related injuries “so long as they have an objectively reasonable basis for testing.” Continue reading Urine Big Trouble: OSHA Clarifies Circumstances Under Which Post-Accident Drug Testing Violates Federal Law

Workplace Weight Management Lowers Costs, Improves Quality of Life

By WorkersCompensation.com – November 11, 2016

New Year's Weight Loss graphicElk Grove Village, IL – Employees who participate in a workplace weight management program—even those without significant weight loss—have reduced health care costs and improved quality of life (QOL), reports a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Tzeyu L. Michaud, PhD, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, and colleagues analyzed the effectiveness of a weight management program for University of Minnesota employees. The analysis included data on about 1,500 individuals over three years.

The results showed lower health care expenditures for weight management program participants, compared to nonparticipants. Annual savings were $838 per participant including employees, spouses, and dependents, and $876 for employee participants only. There was no significant difference in work absenteeism.

Weight management participants also had a significant improvement in health-related QOL—a difference of 0.0045 on a scale of 0 to 1.0000. This benefit was present for all participants, not just those who lost weight. “Their overall perception about health might be improved even though they did not have significant weight loss results,” the researchers suggest.


Customize Return To Work Strategy For Employee Personalities

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com 11/08/2016

return to work iconDuring the course of business, employers will find that all employees are not the same.  Speaking differently to each employee in order to get the same result is normal and necessary to keep business flowing steadily each day.

It only stands to reason that the same approach should hold true when working with employees to get them quickly and safely back to work after a worker’s compensation claim.

Return to Work Approach With Four Different Employee Personalities

There are many different return-to-work programs that can be utilized, but they should be matched with specific employees’ personalities to get the most successful results.  While one employee may respond well to several phone calls a week, another may find that to be too intrusive.  Finding the balance is the key to getting employees back to work.

There are primarily four different employee personality types ranging from fully satisfied to completely unsatisfied.  The four types of employees:

•  Satisfied-Active– one who is happy and needs no coercion or
prodding to return to work.
•  Satisfied-Passive– one who is happy, but complacent with
staying out of work.
•  Dissatisfied-Passive– one who is unhappy, but does not willfully
concoct schemes to stay out of work. However, they may take
advantage of the system to stay out longer.
•  Dissatisfied-Active– one who is very unhappy with his/her
situation and will actively attempt to take advantage of the

The majority of employees will fall under one of these description categories and will respond similarly to different return-to-work strategies.  Handling each situation according to the personalities of the employees is the best tactic.

Suit The Personality Of The Employee

For example, a satisfied-active employee might be someone who has not missed a day of work in 10 years, plays on the company softball team, and is always looked to as a go-getter.


The Employee’s Role In Return To Work

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com 11/03/2016

Return To Work logo graphicTo successfully carry out transitional work programs, risk managers must convince employees of the benefits of these programs. The most critical element in any return-to-work program is keeping the disabled employee actively involved in the workplace.

When a worker is injured, the employer must maintain contact with the employee throughout the recovery period so he or she does not become “psychologically disemployed.”

The phenomenon of “psychological disemployment” occurs when employees are away from the work environment for an extended period. During this period, employees begin to perceive themselves as having become “distanced” from the company — that is, the same company paying their workers’ compensation benefits.

Publicize Return To Work in Positive Manner

To gain employees’ acceptance, transitional work programs must be carried out properly. First, the company should publicize the program in a positive manner. This requires ensuring employees understand that transitional work programs will keep them productive during their recovery. Also, a company must apply its return-to-work policy equally to all employees.

Weekly Communication

Companies can take other steps to convince employees of the benefits of transitional work programs. For example, employers should schedule weekly meetings with the injured employee throughout the injury recovery period. Continue reading The Employee’s Role In Return To Work

Inventors Selected in First-Ever Noise Safety Challenge

By WorkersCompensation.com • November, 4, 2016

hearing protection signWashington, DC (WorkersCompnsation.com) – Three inventors were recognized for their ideas to reduce work-related hearing loss during the first ‘Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge’ hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on October 27, in Washington, D.C.

The challenge was launched with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. Ten finalists, selected from 28 submissions to Challenge.gov, were invited to Washington, D.C., to present their solutions to reduce workplace-induced hearing loss.

“This event was an innovative way for government to help better protect workers from job-related hearing loss by connecting the entrepreneurial community with inventors developing solutions,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
Continue reading Inventors Selected in First-Ever Noise Safety Challenge

National Comp Pharmacy Costs Continue to Decrease!

By WorkCompAcademy.com November 2, 2016

pills pouring out of roll of dollarsSacramento, CA – CompPharma’s 13th Annual Survey of Prescription Drug Management in Workers’ Compensation analyzed the 2015 pharmacy cost data of 30 workers’ compensation insurance carriers, third-party administrators, self-insured employers, and state funds.

Total workers’ comp annual pharmacy spend is approximately $5.5 billion, but it is not possible to more precisely calculate workers’ compensation drug spend.

After a one-year bump up in inflation, work comp drug costs declined again, this time by 8.7%. The 30 payers saw a decline in spend, which they attributed to tighter clinical management, better integration with their PBMs on a variety of services, and specific efforts to reduce initial opioid scripts and decrease the level of morphine equivalents across as many patients as medically appropriate.

Over the last four years, drug costs for payers surveyed by CompPharma have dropped by 11%. This year, seven respondents’ drug costs dropped by 17 points or more. Claim volume changes were only involved for a handful of payers. Respondents attributed the steep decline to more active and assertive clinical management, especially focused on opioids and other potentially problematic drugs.

Over the 13 years the survey has been conducted, the pharmacy cost inflation rate decreased by 26.5 points.
Continue reading National Comp Pharmacy Costs Continue to Decrease!