10 Ways to Kick Start a Workers’ Comp Stewardship Program

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com   February 28, 2017

Workers' Compensation Claims road sign
This way to reduced WC costs

If you’re trying to improve your workers’ comp program, ask for an annual stewardship meeting with your insurer/third-party administrator.

But if you really want to see game changing results, initiate a stewardship process. It’s a collaborative approach that takes some leg work and elbow grease, but can truly push your workers’ comp program to the next level.

In a typical stewardship meeting a representative for the employer and insurer or third party administrator discuss a pre-prepared report that shows your claims and program trends from the previous year and discuss goals for the next year. While it can be beneficial to get this snapshot of your workers’ comp program, there is much more that can be done.

Best outcomes for injured workers, optimized claims performance, and a reduction of your total cost of risk should be the goals. Savvier companies find more value and better outcomes through an intensive coordinated approach that starts long before the actual stewardship meeting.

Prep Work
Conversations with a multitude of people ahead of time can help you define what you want included in the report, the metrics you want analyzed and the parameters. Among those you may want to consult with are your carrier or TPA account manager, risk management information systems personnel and data analysts; claim and safety consultants; your insurance broker or agent; and others within your own organization.

Key steps in the process at this point include:

Set the date. Decide when you want the report completed.

2. Review past reports.
This can help you establish a baseline.

3. Formulate a concept for the report.

4. Discuss the format and content of the report;
set goals, objectives, metrics, deliverables, ideal takeaways, and the list of attendees.

5. Review preliminary data.
Easily available analytical reports can be your starting point until you determine what needs to be customized, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Not all data is going to be relevant. Some examples of the types of data may include:
•  Frequency analysis: claim volume, litigation, examiner caseload and lag time.
•  Severity analysis: average/total incurred, average/total paid, loss stratification, lag analysis, litigation, subrogation/recovery.


New Smartphone Apps Help Reinforce Workplace Safety, Train Teen Workers

They had me at training a teen!

By WorkersCompensation.com  February 23, 2017

Workplace Safety app for iOS and Android
   There’s a YouTube video that shows how to use the app.

Tumwater, WA – Improving workplace safety just got easier with two new free apps available from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). They were developed with grant money awarded by L&I’s Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Program. Both can be downloaded for IOS or Android devices.

The SHIP Program funds innovative projects that prevent workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities and help injured workers return to work.

“We hope all employers will give these apps a try,” said Jenifer Jellison, program manager for L&I’s SHIP grant program. “They’re convenient, easy to use in the workplace, and offer a great new way to prevent injuries and reinforce safe work practices.”

Capture and report safety incidents instantly

The Good Observation, Near-Miss and Accident Reporting app provides a simple and effective way to document safety incidents in the workplace. Employers can use it to photograph a safe practice, a near-miss or an accident, and then use the finger-drawing tool to markup the photo. A quick-report feature lets you save the photo, add a few details and send to others in your organization.

This new workplace safety tool was developed by three companies working together — John W. Shervey & Associates, Schuchart Construction and Mellora — using a $45,735 SHIP grant.

The app is suitable for most industries and can be used for training, hazard recognition, risk analysis or process improvement. There’s also a Spanish version, and there’s a YouTube video that shows how to use the app. Download the app at WA-HSEQ app.


Concussion Coach App

Concussion Coach App As A Useful Educational Tool for PatientsA Useful Educational Tool for Patients, With Some Caveats

Brian Chau, MD | February 15, 2017

We recently covered the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Mobile App Store, which includes apps for both providers and patients.

One of the most intriguing apps listed on this store is the Concussion Coach. Designed to help educate users on concussion symptom management and education, in addition to providing support resources, the app is primarily geared towards patients. The app was developed through a multi-disciplinary team including the VA’s Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services, National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

Of note, the term “concussion” is used throughout the app to refer to all types of brain injury. The app itself is geared towards those who have experienced a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. The American Congress of Rehabilitation (1995) has defined mild traumatic brain injuries to be the same as a concussion, with specific criteria for such. There are a variety of other brain injury scales available in addition, including the American Academy of Neurology Guidelines, Cantu Guidelines, and Colorado Medical Society Guidelines that provide more specifics on the grading (mild, moderate, and severe) for traumatic brain injuries.


Currently, Concussion Coach is only available for iOS devices (5.0 or later), and is free. At the time of release (2013), a promised Android version was in the works. However, there has been no update since and no release for Android. I have attempted to contact the team behind Concussion Coach for clarification on the lack of an Android version but haven’t heard back. MeriTalk recently reported on concerns about the funding behind some of the VA apps, and it’s unknown if this will will affect Concussion Coach.


Concussion Coach is subdivided into 5 key sections: Learn (concussion 101, symptoms, treatment, types of associated headaches, sleep, cognitive symptoms, anxiety, and irritability), Self-Assessment (symptom tracking), Manage the Moment (selection of coping tools and symptom management options), Build Resilience (Wellness journal, goal recording), and Resources and Support (Both VA and outside resources for patients). In addition, at startup, users can elect to be screened to determine if they may have experienced a concussion in the past.


CA Dreaming of a Streamlined Workers’ Comp Procedure

By John Gerboth – February 13, 2017

State Seal of CaliforniaSan Bernardino, CA – On Dec. 2, 2015, married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a staff meeting and luncheon taking place at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA.

Farook, a health inspector with the San Bernardino Department of Public Health, and his companion killed 14 coworkers and injured 22 others before fleeing the scene in an SUV and later being killed in a shootout with law enforcement. For the unfortunate workers who were injured that day, getting full redress through the state’s workers’ compensation system has been difficult.

The California Department of Industrial Relations (CDIR) oversees the state’s workers’ compensation system. The problem those injured in the San Bernardino shooting face is that what they and their doctors deem to be medically necessary often differs from what the CDIR believes to be medically necessary. Although certainly not an uncommon conflict in workers’ compensation law, the procedure for resolving these conflicts can take several months.

In response to this problem, California Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes, who represents the district where San Bernardino is located, introduced Assembly Bill No. 44. According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, which spells out the purpose of the bill, the current “law requires every employer to establish a utilization review process, and defines ‘utilization review’ as utilization review or utilization management functions that prospectively, retrospectively, or concurrently review and approve, modify, or deny, based in whole or in part on medical necessity to cure and relieve, treatment recommendations by physicians, prior to, retrospectively, or concurrent with providing medical treatment services.” In layman’s terms this means that every medical procedure stemming from a workplace accident must be reviewed before it can be approved. Disputes over the decisions from the “utilization review” go to an independent medical review.

The Bill Digest continues as follows:

This bill would exempt medical treatment for employees or first responders who sustain physical or psychological injury as a result of an act of terrorism or violence in the workplace from the utilization review process and the independent medical review process, and would provide for an expedited proceeding before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to resolve disputes regarding treatment. Continue reading CA Dreaming of a Streamlined Workers’ Comp Procedure

Help for Drivers Impaired by Edible Marijuana

photo of medical marijuana candy bar
Candy bars laced with medical marijuana are seen on display at the Alternative Herbal Health Services cannabis dispensary April 24, 2006 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Though marijuana edibles are becoming increasingly common, scant information exists on how to test drivers for impairment following their consumption.

For the first time, research published today in AACC’s Clinical Chemistry journal evaluates the performance of roadside saliva tests for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) following consumption of edibles, showing that lower THC cutoff points are needed for these tests to effectively detect marijuana ingestion.

Consumption of marijuana edibles has expanded along with legalized medical and recreational use of this drug, and almost one-third of all marijuana is now either eaten or ingested in drink form. Marijuana-associated traffic accidents and fatalities have also increased rapidly in states where this drug has been legalized, with THC prevalence among U.S. weekend nighttime drivers increasing from 8.6% in 2007 to 12.6% in 2013 and 2014.

THC is the main psychoactive constituent in marijuana, and unlike with alcohol, no breath test exists that can accurately detect it. As an alternative, saliva tests show potential as quick roadside sobriety tests for cannabis. However, the efficacy of roadside saliva tests following edible cannabis consumption has never been studied before.

In this study, a team of researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse led by Marilyn A. Huestis, PhD, set out to fill this critical gap in roadside marijuana testing knowledge. The researchers gave occasional and frequent marijuana smokers brownies laced with 50.6 mg of THC. Over the course of 48 hours, the researchers then collected saliva and blood samples from the participants at several time-points Continue reading Help for Drivers Impaired by Edible Marijuana

4 Keys to Keeping Employees Safe Behind The Wheel

By ReduceYourWorkersComp.com  February 8, 2017

graphic of drive safe gaugeWith fuel prices still low, many experts predict 2017 will see increased road travel. Employers need to be aware of the risks to workers who drive and take steps to protect them.

Transportation incidents are the No. 1 cause of workplace fatalities, claiming nearly 40 percent of all occupational deaths in the most recent year for which data is available from the government. They are also the top risk for business travelers abroad, especially in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Workplace crashes can be expensive for a company in terms of lost productivity, as well as workers’ comp costs. The good news is the risks can be greatly reduced by taking action.

1. Safe driving policy

Every organization has different needs and may have differing ways to protect employees who drive. However, there are several components that transcend all companies. Having a Safe Driving Policy that is well thought out, supported by all levels of the organization and communicated to employees is key. Among the elements to consider are the following:

•  Use of technology. Texting and using hand-held phones while driving should be verboten by all organizations. Many states do not have laws supporting a ban, but research strongly indicates the risk of a crash is greatly increased when drivers text or use hand-held phones.

  Seat belts. These should be required of all drivers. Nearly every state mandates seat belts for drivers.

•  Prevent drowsy driving. Accidents involving tired drivers occur most often between the hours of 12 – 2 a.m., 4 – 6 a.m., and 2 – 4 p.m. Companies should allow workers to take breaks for brief naps and to stop for the night if they are too tired. Providing information on good sleep habits is also helpful.

•  Alcohol and drugs. Driving after drinking and/or using illegal drugs should be strictly prohibited. The issue can be dicey when prescription medications are involved. At the very least, workers should be given information about the potential effects of certain drugs.

Plan the trip. The worker and his supervisor together should determine the destination, route and travel schedule. Before sending a driver out, the worker and/or supervisor should check for any adverse road conditions and/or closings.

2. Driver selection

Before putting any employee behind the wheel of a company vehicle, it’s imperative to make sure the person has a valid driver’s license. Continue reading 4 Keys to Keeping Employees Safe Behind The Wheel

Cycle Time Is King


By Dr. Laura Gardner, Vice President, Products, CLARA Analytics

Santa Clara,CA – Workers’ compensation is essentially a collection of interrelated actions taken by the employer, payer, provider and injured worker in the service of the injured worker’s recovery and return to work.

Putting the injured worker at the center of this activity is critical and discussed in the previous article in this series, Five Best Practices to Ensure the Injured Worker Comes FirstWorkers’ compensation cost control, cycle time, return to work, injured worker. But what is the best way to achieve our objective of getting injured workers rapidly back on track? What processes, tools and systems do we put in place? What problems should we focus on?

Critical to answering these questions is a framework that is based on years of handling service operations across a range of industries (airlines, retail banking, healthcare, etc.).

Any service process can be measured based on its performance along three dimensions:
•. Cycle time – time to complete one cycle of an operation (e.g.,   from opening to closing of a claim)
•. Cost – the cost to go through a cycle of the process
•. Quality – the error rate that occurs as you go through a cycle

It’s a truism in process improvement that you can improve only one or two of these factors at a time, at the expense of the others. While this is true if we push on cost or quality, pushing on cycle time improves all three metrics. This is an important finding that’s worth restating. If we endeavor solely to reduce cycle time, we can improve all three metrics — cost, quality and cycle time — without sacrifice. To explain why, let’s look at a few examples.
Continue reading Cycle Time Is King

Falls & Struck By Incidents Lead Work Related Deaths

By WorkersCompensation.com  | February 1, 2017

chart of workplace deaths by industryRaleigh,NC  – Falls and struck-by incidents continue to cause the largest number of work-related deaths statewide based on preliminary information released today by the state Department of Labor. Struck-by incidents accounted for the most work-related deaths with 19, while falls accounted for 12 deaths.

The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Division inspected 48 work-related deaths last year.

“Year after year, we see falls and struck-by incidents take the lives of too many workers,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “Falls and struck-bys are especially troubling because we know nearly all these types of workplace accidents can be prevented when proper safety training is coupled with the proper use of personal protective equipment. Seven of last year’s construction deaths involved a fall from a roof. We never lose sight of the fact that these are human lives lost at work, and I take each one personally. These were someone’s husband or wife, mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter, and in some cases grandparent. They were best friends and co-workers at an average age of 42 years old.”

The OSH Division tracks work-related deaths that fall within its jurisdictional authority so it can pinpoint where fatalities are occurring and place special emphasis on counties or regions where deaths on the job are happening. By tracking fatalities in real time, the department can also notify particular industries of any concerning patterns or trends identified and issue hazard alerts to warn industry. Continue reading Falls & Struck By Incidents Lead Work Related Deaths