Tag Archives: occupational medicine

Stop Workplace Falls While Decking the Halls!

November 30, 2017 by 

Workplace safety is important during the holiday season.  Stressing this topic can also reduce workers’ compensation program expenses.  This is especially true as employees are decking the workplace halls — you want to avoid falla falls, falla falls, falls, falls falls!

slips, trips and falls graphic for aritcle, Stop Workplace Falls While Decking the Halls!

The Real Expense of Workplace Safety

Failing to have a safe workplace impacts, everyone.  Employees get injured; overtime costs go up; all employees get stressed.  It also reduces productivity and adds unnecessary costs to the hiring and replacement of talented individuals who cannot return to work.  It adds to healthcare costs in the United States and places an unnecessary burden on emergency rooms.  Now is the time to prevent workplace injuries.

Slip, Trips and Falls in the Workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tracks injuries and deaths that occur in the American workplace.  Approximately 15% of all deaths in workers’ compensation settings occur when someone falls in a same level or multi-level incident.  Only motor vehicle accidents account for more workplace deaths.

The economic impact of slip/fall injuries is astronomical.  The National Safety Council estimates these types of injuries cost American industry over $13 billion per year.  This averages out to be about $40,000 per incident.  The consequence of poor training and safety compliance continues to grow.  Interested and proactive claims management teams can make a difference and reverse this troubling trend.  It also starts with educating insured on fall avoidance and other safety issues.

Creating a Culture of Safety

OSHA does require training for all employees subject to slip/fall dangers.  Those interested in making a difference in their workplace need to go beyond the minimum requirements

Prevent same level slip and fall injuries:

  • Keep work areas free of clutter, dust and other debris;
  • Require employees to wear low-heeled shoes with no-slip surfaces;
  • Ensure that rugs and mats have skid-proof backing;
  • Avoid having non-tracked flooring installed in workspaces;
  • Discourage horseplay in the workplace. This can include specifically prohibiting conduct that can result in slips, falls or other related injuries;
  • Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors; and
  • Use correct lighting in stairwells and hallways.

Employees working at heights such as catwalks, ladders, and scaffolding are in extreme danger for severe injury from falls.  Important measures to implement in the workplace should include:

  • Development and implementation of a fall protection program. This includes training and ongoing evaluation of safety measures for employees and management to use daily;
  • Avoid unprotected side and openings. When these settings are unavoidable, use of a guardrail, safety net or fall arrest systems are paramount;
  • Provide instruction on the safe posting and use of ladders;
  • Purchase and require the use of OSHA compliant ladders when engaging in workplace activities; and
  • Inspection of ladders and scaffolding before and after all use.

While this list is not all-inclusive, there needs to be a proactive approach to employee safety when working at heights.  It is also important to engage management on these issues and foster a culture of compliance with safety procedures and injury avoidance.

Conclusions

The holiday season should be a time of joy and gratitude—not emergency room visits.  While slip/fall injuries will never be eliminated, they can be avoided.  Taking a proactive approach reduces workers’ compensation costs and allows people to focus on the holiday season.

Read more: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com Stop the Workplace Falls While Decking the Halls! http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2017/11/stop-the-workplace-falls-while-decking-the-halls/#ixzz50QdWkZ1s
Copyright Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

Occupational Fatigue—New Insights on Causes and Consequences

Elk Grove Village, IL (WorkersCompensation.com) – matthew.hallowell@colorado.edu

inforgraphci for Occupational FatigueSleep loss and poor working conditions are the most important causes of occupational fatigue—which can impair mental and physical performance with the potential for serious errors and injuries, reports a review and update in the October Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Matthew Hallowell, PhD, and colleagues of University of Colorado at Boulder analyzed previous research to develop a “comprehensive systems model” of the interrelated causes and consequences of occupational fatigue. Fatigue, which may be acute or chronic, is defined as “a decreased ability to perform activities at the desired level due to lassitude or exhaustion of mental and/or physical strength.”

Based on available data, the “major drivers” of fatigue were sleep deprivation and factors in the work environment—such as noise, vibration, and temperature. These causes could all interact with other factors, such as increased work load and long work hours.

The most significant consequences of fatigue were short-term degradation in cognitive (thinking) and physical functioning. Illnesses, human error, and injuries also occurred to a lesser extent. Evidence suggested that some consequences of fatigue can make other outcomes worse, reinforcing fatigue and leading to a “downward cycle.”

Occupational fatigue affects more than 20 percent of the US working population, resulting in more than $136 billion in lost productivity and health care costs each year. Unfortunately, the problem of fatigue may draw attention only after major accidents—the researchers cite the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Exxon Valdez disasters.

[READ FULL STORY HERE]

“Occupational Complexity” Linked to Better Cognitive Performance

By WorkersCompensation.com 06/13/2016

Intellectual Incitement warning signRosemont, IL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Working in a more intellectually challenging job is associated with better memory and other aspects of cognitive functioning, reports a study in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

In addition, more physically hazardous work is linked to lower cognitive performance, according to the new research by Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD, of Florida State University and colleagues. They analyzed data on work characteristics and cognitive function tests in nearly 2,000 US workers, drawn from a national study of health and aging.

Each participant’s job was assessed in terms of “occupational complexity,” referring to the intellectual challenges of daily work. Both psychosocial and physical workplace factors were evaluated for association with measures of cognitive functioning.

Higher occupational complexity was related to better self-perceived memory for both women and men. For women only, occupational complexity was linked to higher scores on tests for episodic memory and for executive functioning (skills such as planning and executing tasks). 

In both sexes, those with more physically hazardous jobs had lower episodic memory and executive functioning.

 Continue reading “Occupational Complexity” Linked to Better Cognitive Performance

Rheumatoid Arthritis Carries High Costs for Employers

By 

Rheumatoid Arthritis chartEmployees with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are more likely to have work absences, leading to high excess costs for employers, reports a study in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Jennifer H. Lofland, PharmD, MPH, PhD, of Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC, in Horsham, Pa, and colleagues used national health survey data from 1996 to 2006 to estimate the impact of work absenteeism in employees with RA. According to the authors, “RA is a chronic inflammatory disease that leads to destruction of joints and is associated with severe long-term disability.”

In the sample of 90,000 working Americans, about 0.3 percent reported having rheumatoid arthritis. Nearly three-fourths of workers with RA were women.
Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis Carries High Costs for Employers

Small Businesses Good Candidates for Wellness Programs

Denver, CO (WorkersCompensation.com) – Small businesses are prepared to adopt workplace wellness programs and, based on the kinds of health risks facing employees, are a good target for such health interventions according to new research published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Occupational and EnvirHealth happens here in the workplaceonmental Medicine from the Colorado School of Public Health.

This research was part of a large prospective, longitudinal case-control study to determine whether worker productivity improves and workers’ compensation costs fall if health promotion programs are offered to small businesses. Nearly 80 percent of large employers offer wellness programs, but less than one-third of small businesses engage in these programs, according to past research. The article, “Implementation of a Worksite Wellness Program Targeting Small Businesses: The Pinnacol Assurance Health Risk Management Study” from researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health is the first field-based study to look at implementing low-cost worksite wellness programs in a large number of small businesses.

“Small businesses face significant barriers when considering worksite wellness programs because they lack the money, time and knowledge about how to implement them,” said the study’s lead author, Lee Newman, MD, MA, professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “We demonstrated that Colorado small businesses will adopt worksite wellness programs if the program is provided free of charge and comes with advice on how to execute it,” he continued. “This study provides important on-the-ground insight into how to structure these programs.”

[READ REST OF STORY]

Central Coast IndustrialCare’s Winning Booth at Santa Maria Trade Fair

Marisol Perez as Miss Liberty at Santa Maria Business Trade Show
Marisol Perez of Central Coast Industrial Care dressed for the patriotic theme at the Santa Maria Valley Business Trade Show on Thursday at the Santa Maria Fairpark. She was photographed by Susan Berban. Click photo for interview.

A patriotic theme was the natural choice for the Santa Maria Valley Business Trade Show, held this year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

So the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau chose “American Pride” as the theme for this year’s event in the Santa Maria Fairpark.

The choice inspired business owners and employees to decorate their booths — and themselves — in red, white and blue or don costumes from American history.

Some booths were decorated to represent historical events, while others paid homage to American heroes like firefighters, police and military personnel.

LINK TO SANTA MARIA TIMES STORY

Privacy and Security of Employees’ Health Data in the Era of Electronic Health Records

viewing x-ray on a tabletBY:KERRY SOUZA, SCD, MPH; CAPT MARGARET S. FILIOS, SM, BSN; AND EILEEN STOREY, MD, MPH

Big Data, Little Data, Open Data – a burgeoning interest in data is evident, perhaps nowhere more so than in public health and healthcare. Nationally, several major ‘data revolutions’ are underway, including a transition to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to maintain and share longitudinal patient health data, and the increasing use of data to measure the performance of healthcare and public health programs. Both trends are relevant to Total Worker Health: data are being used in new and innovative ways to measure employee health status and increasingly, occupational health data are being exchanged electronically.

As employers, labor, public health and other stakeholders work together to integrate health protection and health promotion in the workplace, the amount of employee health data being generated, collected and electronically exchanged will only increase. Have you ever wondered what happens to employee wellness data collected by employers or a third party? Are these data treated as ‘confidential?’ Who has access to the data? When an employer has both voluntary wellness and required screening programs for employees, how should the data be maintained to prevent accidental disclosure of the voluntary information? These and other questions emerge when new employee health programs are put in place and/or paper records are replaced by electronic systems. Continue reading Privacy and Security of Employees’ Health Data in the Era of Electronic Health Records

“Down On The Farm” Is A Hotbed for Work Injuries

Caution. This is a working farm sign graphicThis article is based on a report from Australia but, as you’ll see, it’s applicable to our Santa Maria Valley agricultural industry, as well.

April 26, 2013 by Michael B. Stack

With plenty of land to farm, one might think most farmlands in Australia are safe for those working the soil.

As it turns out, however, a new report sheds light on some of the inherent dangers facing those working farms.

According to a recent report from Safe Work Australia, one in half-a-dozen employees who were fatally injured in Australia were working on a farm. The report monitored statistics over an eight-year period until June 30, 2011.

The major findings of the Work-related injuries and fatalities on Australian farms were reported by Safe Work Australia Chair, Ann Sherry AO. She stated that the figure was staggering considering only 3 percent of workers are employed in the agriculture sector.

“On average 44 farm workers are killed each year and another 17,400 suffer a work-related injury,” Sherry said. “This is a significant number of injuries and deaths occurring within the agriculture sector. While the statistics themselves are alarming, they don’t reflect the many more families, work colleagues and communities who are affected by a farm-related fatality or injury.

Vehicles Have Major Role in Work-Related Deaths

Other key findings from the report include:

●     Vehicles accounted for nearly three quarters of work-related fatalities on farms.

○   In the eight years of the study 93 workers died while using a tractor. Half of these workers were aged 65 years and over one-third of the deaths involved a rollover.

○   Aircraft incidents while undertaking tasks such as mustering or crop dusting claimed the lives of 48 workers.

○   Quad bikes were involved in 27 fatalities of which 20 were due to a rollover.

●     Almost one-third of work-related fatalities on Australian farms involved workers aged 65 years or over. This is nearly three times the proportion the age group represents of all worker fatalities in Australian workplaces.

●     Young farm workers had more hospitalizations for a motorbike or horse-related incident while older workers had more hospitalizations from contact with machinery.

●     Only half of Australian agriculture workers are covered by workers’ compensation as 46 percent are self-employed. The report showed that nearly one in four workers’ compensation claims were due to working with animals, one in five were from working with mobile plant and transport including motorbikes and nearly one in five were from working with non-powered tools and equipment.

In analyzing the information it garnered, Safe Work Australia has identified the agriculture sector as one of its priorities under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 and is working with regulators, industry, unions and the farming community to find practical and cost effective ways to reduce the hazards farmers and their workers face on a daily basis. This might include incentives from regulators to adopt safer plant and increased awareness raising activities in this sector.

Some of the risks and hazards being addressed at the national level in the farming sector are use of quad bikes and labeling of pesticides. Quad bike safety is being addressed through consultation on the fitting of crush protection devices to quad bikes and restricting the use of quad bikes by children.

Recent changes to pesticide labeling requirements unveiled under the new harmonized Work Health and Safety Regulations will bring greater consistency with labels of hazardous workplace chemicals in other sectors. This change aims to bring greater awareness of the hazards of farm chemicals and result in improved safety outcomes from chemical handling on farms.

Finally, work health and safety regulators across Australia are also seeking to improve work health and safety in the agriculture section and decrease these alarming statistics.

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

Read more: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com “Down On The Farm” Is A Hotbed for Work Injuries – Reduce Your Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage Costs with Timely Information for Employers | Work Comp Roundup http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2013/04/down-on-the-farm-is-a-hotbed-for-work-injuries/#ixzz2RxhEFIrD

Copyright Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

Is a Bundle of Joy Increasing Your Workers Comp Costs?

cartoon of job foreman about to be bonked by wrecking ballThere Can Be Many Secondary Benefits to Being Off Work

I was reading a parenting magazine the other day about how parents sometimes tell little lies to their kids in order to get what they want. These aren’t major lies, but little ones that have a common goal of getting your younger child to leave a playgroup, or to eat something they really don’t want to eat.

I thought about how in the claims world it is often the claimant that tells fibs about their injury or pain in order to get what they want, which is often the goal of stretching their time off away from work. So why would some people lie about their injury? Isn’t the goal about getting better so you can return to work?

The answer here is yes–most people are honest and just want to get their injury over with. But there are others that will stretch the trutha bit in order to remain out of work. We call this “Secondary Gain.” This can be a very important part of the claim, whether it is in litigation or not. So what are some red flags to look for that could indicate a person has secondary gain issues?

The claimant has an infant or young child.

Daycare is very expensive! For many people, daycare costs are more than their house payment. It is not uncommon to pay over $2,000 a month to have 2 children in daycare during the workweek

It is easy to understand how claimants that have kids are more likely to attempt to stretch their time out away from work. In addition to their wage loss checks, they have other savings that include decreased daycare costs.

This is an unforeseen cost to the claim overall. If my injured worker, who is already receiving wage loss benefits, is also able to save $2,000 a month by being able to watch their own kids while off of work, they really have little incentive to rush back to work. They are making more money by not working than by actually working.

For example, I had a claimant that was off work with an ankle injury while his wife gave birth to their first son. Soon after, his employer mentioned to me that this person was not dropping off his medical slips at their HR office, and he was not as quick to return my calls to check up on how he was doing and how he was feeling. It seemed like whenever the employer had a light duty job open up, he was a lot harder to get a hold of.

Then I noticed in the medical records that he seemed to be moving backwards, complaining about increased pain and how his treatment was no longer helping him, when just before the birth he had mentioned how he was feeling better and was excited to return to work.

He did not tell me about the birth of his son, and as soon as I found out I was able to piece the puzzle together as to why his claim was suddenly at a standstill. Be vigilant about this issue, and use an IME or surveillance to your advantage in this scenario so you can keep the claim moving forward.

The claim is in litigation

Plaintiff attorneys know that the longer a person is off of work, the more wage loss benefits they accrue. This increases the value of their claim, resulting in larger settlement exposure. If a claim becomes litigated over any issue, you can guarantee that the worker will try to stay off work or totally disabled as long as possible.

Again use the IME and surveillance to your advantage. Call the employer and try to create a light duty job if none was previously available. This will decrease your wage loss exposure, and if an injured worker refuses a light duty job that was offered to them within their medical restrictions, you can end that wage exposure and keep a strong defense throughout the course of the litigation.

Work Comp Roundup – Reduce Your Workers Compensation Insurance Cove…log Archive » Is a Bundle of Joy Increasing Your Workers Comp Costs 7/9/12 2:21 PM Continue reading Is a Bundle of Joy Increasing Your Workers Comp Costs?

Transitional Duty Tips… Always a Hot Topic

man cleaning giant clock faces
Clocking in is a win win

Probably the topic that raises the most eyebrows whenever we mention it; transitional duty programs. All the research we’ve seen from the medical profession side of things indicates that transitional duty not only benefits the employers bottom line but is also beneficial to the employee’s mental and physical health.

Successfully returning employees to work is one of the best ways to reduce workers compensation costs because … the longer an employee is out of work, the more the claim will cost! Medical bills will increase, and so will lost wages.

Several Tips for Transitional Duty are:

• Have the employee work their regular shift so no transportation or childcare problems occur.

• Consider paying full earnings temporarily, even for partial work hours, to avoid paying lost wage benefits.

• Obtain employee’s feedback about the transitional duty position.

We have even more tips at our blog posting here: http://ccindustrialcare.com/?p=460