11 Tips To Keep Aging Workers Safe, Healthy & Productive

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com | 01/26/2017

graph of Ageing WorkforceThe workforce is getting older. People are living longer, and their dollars aren’t necessarily going as far as they’d like. In 2015, 22.6 percent of the workforce was at least 55 years old and the percentage is expected to be nearly one-quarter of the workforce by 2024.

That’s good news for companies that don’t want to lose the benefits of older workers — institutional knowledge, lower turnover, more dedication to work, and positive values. However, while older workers also tend to have fewer workplace injuries, they generally take longer to heal. Savvy employers know they must take steps to address changes related to the aging process.

The Problems

Our bodies generally show signs of aging around ages 40 to 50. Not all older workers have the same physical or mental issues associated with aging, but there are often changes that impact vision, hearing, strength and flexibility, and cognitive skills.

Older workers tend to experience more problems with their backs, shoulders, knees and trunks, while younger workers are more likely to have head and hand injuries.
Continue reading 11 Tips To Keep Aging Workers Safe, Healthy & Productive

An Interesting Opioid Red Flag

By Mark Pew 01/20/2017

red flag with word opioid on itI love Uber rides. I learn so much (my profile picture should actually be a sponge) because I’m typically engaged in conversation with the driver. I learned something unexpected during my ride to the Oklahoma City airport yesterday,

My colleague and I started with the standard small talk (after all, riders are being rated by the drivers) about why we were in OKC, who we worked for and what we did. When I mentioned opioids as part of the description, the driver had his own story (which happens often when I mention my focus as the RxProfessor).

He is 73 years old and had a total knee replacement last year. As he helped us with our luggage, I did not notice a limp so he obviously had recovered fully. The surgery was on May 1. He used a highly reputable orthopedic surgeon in OKC (where he’s lived all of his life).

The surgery was a success. He was walking – painfully – the day after the surgery (part of the focus on quick post-surgical activity that has taken hold over the past decade or so). He was given Vicodin 7.5mg to help with his pain. As he tolerated the therapy and regained mobility and capabilities, he titrated down to Vicodin 5mg. He took his last pill on August 3, after a week with his wife and young grandchildren on vacation. By all accounts – granted, his was the only account I heard – the surgery and therapy was a success and his new knee provided life opportunities that had diminished with his formerly bad knee.

I did not ask about any co-morbidities, but he appeared physically, cognitively and emotionally healthy. I did not ask him about his ongoing drug regimen, but it was obvious opioids were not part of whatever he might be taking. I did not ask about any substance abuse history, but he appeared to be fully aware of the dangers of opioids as he took them last year and was actively engaged in not only getting better but getting rid of the drugs and moving on in life.

So … Absolutely no red flags.

Except he just got denied for a life insurance policy. The reason?
Opioid use.

I totally understand why insurance companies, especially life insurance, are really worried about opioids. When used long-term for non-malignant chronic pain (legitimately prescribed by doctors) they often decrease function and increase side effects and decrease quality of life and increase dosage / number of drugs.


Workplace Anti-Retaliation Programs

OSHA Issues Recommended Practices to Promote Workplace Anti-Retaliation Programs

By WorkersCompensation.com  |  01/17/2017

whistleblower illustrationThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued Recommended Practices for Anti-Retaliation Programs to help employers create workplaces in which workers feel comfortable voicing their concerns without fear of retaliation.

The recommendations are intended to apply to all public and private sector employers covered by the 22 whistleblower protection laws that OSHA enforces.

The recommendations are adaptable to most workplaces, and employers may adjust them for such variables as number of employees, the makeup of the workforce, and the type of work performed. The concepts can be used to create a new program or enhance an existing one.

The document outlines five key elements of an effective anti-retaliation program:

1. Management leadership, commitment, and accountability
2. System for listening to and resolving employees’ safety and compliance concerns
3. System for receiving and responding to reports of retaliation
4. Anti-retaliation training for employees and managers
5. Program oversight

“These recommended practices will provide companies with the tools to create a robust anti-retaliation program,” said Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “In the long run, it’s good for workers and good for business.”
Continue reading Workplace Anti-Retaliation Programs

100 Conclusions on the Health Effects of Marijuana – New Report

Nearly 100 Conclusions on the Health Effects of Marijuana and Cannabis-Derived Products Presented in New Report

By WorkersCompensation.com 01/16/2016

medical marijuana daily dose trayA new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers a rigorous review of scientific research published since 1999 about what is known about the health impacts of cannabis and cannabis-derived products – such as marijuana and active chemical compounds known as cannabinoids – ranging from their therapeutic effects to their risks for causing certain cancers, diseases, mental health disorders, and injuries.

The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report considered more than 10,000 scientific abstracts to reach its nearly 100 conclusions.  The committee also proposed ways to expand and improve the quality of cannabis research efforts, enhance data collection efforts to support the advancement of research, and address the current barriers to cannabis research.

“For years the landscape of marijuana use has been rapidly shifting as more and more states are legalizing cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions and recreational use,” said Marie McCormick, chair of the committee; the Sumner and Esther Feldberg Professor of Maternal and Child Health, department of social and behavioral sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass. Continue reading 100 Conclusions on the Health Effects of Marijuana – New Report

Diabetes Deaths Exploding in California’s Under-55 Population

By Phillip Reese

Chart of diabetes deaths in California for people under 55 years of ageDeaths from Type II diabetes in California among people under age 55 were practically unheard of 15 years ago. Just 24 people in that age group died from the disease in California in 1999.

Times have changed. In 2015, 390 Californians under age 55 died from the disease, according to new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deaths from Type II diabetes have risen across all age groups. About 4,900 Californians died from the disease last year, for a rate of 12.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 2 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999.

But the death rate among the under-55 group has grown exponentially. About 3.6 out of every 100,000 Californians between ages 35 and 54 died from the disease last year, roughly 18 times the death rate in 1999, CDC figures show.

The trend is mirrored in the Sacramento region. Almost 130 area residents under age 55 died from Type II diabetes between 2011 and 2015, up from 15 deaths between 1999 and 2004. Continue reading Diabetes Deaths Exploding in California’s Under-55 Population

4 More Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com |  01/11/2017

Workplace Wellness tips graphicAs reported in yesterday’s blog “4 Keys to a Healthier Workforce”, comorbidities in your workforce add significant costs in workers’ compensation claims.  While our New Year’s resolutions are still alive, take action today to consider these 4 more keys to a healthier workforce:

Lifestyle Management Programs

Employers can do a variety of things to get people moving. In addition to such things as workshops on various wellness issues, companies can allow breaks for workers to engage in physical activities. Or set up walking or other exercise programs. Smoking cessation programs can be done either onsite, or at a local hospital or other community facility.


Getting employees to participate in wellness programs is nearly impossible if it’s not easy for them to be involved. Third shift workers, for example, might feel left out of group activities that take place during the day. Using technology such as internal websites and mobile apps, can help these workers feel more involved. Encouraging workers to eat better can be made easier by providing healthy snacks onsite, such as in vending machines and during meetings.


Employees are much more inclined to participate in wellness activities if they enjoy them. Competitive teams can be established to challenge one another to walk X number of miles, or to lose the most weight in a given time period.
Continue reading 4 More Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

Negativity and Your Inner Pooh

By Judge David Langham |  01/05/2017

Little child in an Eeyore costumeA.A. Milne brought us an incredible journey with his characters and stories. He is the creator of the simple, loyal, and always hungry Winnie the Pooh.
Pooh is the protagonist in a series of adventures that tend to take place in the solitude of the hundred acre woods, and in the imagination of a child, Christopher Robin.
The earliest of these stories are almost oen hundred years old. Many have enjoyed them as children, only to later share them with children, grandchildren and more.

Much as we all appreciate Pooh, however, I focus today on an ancillary character in the stories. A balance to the happy-go-lucky, optimistic Pooh is a donkey named Eeyore. Eeyore does not share Pooh’s simplistic optimism. In fact, he is the epitome of pessimism. He is described as characterized as “pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, and anhedonic.” Some examples:

Greeting our protagonist one morning Eeyore says

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” “If it is a good morning,” “Which I doubt.”

Informed that there is to be a celebration, a party, Eeyore says

“Very interesting,” “I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don’t mention it.”

In discussing the weather, Eeyore focuses upon the cold, and in his inimitable manner finds a depressing manner in which to look at the bright side:

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.” “And freezing.”

“Yes.” “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

Eeyore brings a dismal outlook to all he perceives. He is ever convinced that all is not well, that all is against him, that the world is to be survived and not engaged. He brings an gushing mix of ambivalence and pessimism to his companions. He never hesitates to rain on their parade, caution them of impending disaster, remind them of their shortfalls. In the process, what does Eeyore accomplish?


Return-To-Work: Create a Win/Win in Your Work Comp Program

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com 01/03/2017

photo of employee in wheechair performing transitional dutyNotwithstanding the conventional wisdom, injured workers of any age have an interest in returning to work.  Sadly this is often an over-looked part of many programs as employers and interested stakeholders focus on other issues.  Now is the time to change this thought process.  This is based on the reality that any workers’ compensation program can create a win for everyone by focusing on return-to-work.

Challenges When it Comes to Return-To-Work

There are many challenges employers and other stakeholders face when creating or revamping their return to work program.  Due to these barriers, the people in charge of the program decide to move on and focus on other aspects of their programs.  Some of the main challenges faced by workers’ compensation programs include:

•   The aging American workforce. Continued anemic economic growth places pressures on the average American’s pocketbook.  This has changed the thought process by employees, as they get older.  When an injury occurs, employers and members of the claim management team face challenges of extended vocational rehabilitation, the possibility of retraining and the ugly specter of a permanent total disability (PTD) claim.

•   The ongoing opioid drug epidemic. Change will only occur in the overuse and abuse of prescription opioid-based medications only when the hearts and minds of Americans demand real action.  Until that time, all parties charged with the role of defending a workers’ compensation claim will need to keep an eye on this issue.

Countless other factors impact workers’ compensation claims management.  One practical and fundamental solution is to reduce the costs in a workers’ compensation program through an effective and efficient return-to-work program.