Tag Archives: Work

6 Effective Claim Handling Tips For Undocumented Employees

July 24, 2018 by Michael B. Stack

farm workers for article, 6 Effective Claim Handling Tips For Undocumented EmployeesInterested stakeholders in workers’ compensation need to pay attention to the changing workforce as immigration continues to change the composition of the American workforce.  This includes being mindful of immigration laws and making good faith efforts to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act and the employment of individuals authorized to work within the United States.  Notwithstanding these efforts, people without such proper documentation enter the workforce and become injured.  This creates problems for employers and insurers that can add costs to a claim.

Understanding the Basics

The Immigration Reform and Control Act controls employment practices in the United States.  Under this law, only American citizens or non-citizens with the proper work permits are allowed to perform work legally.  However, employers continue to employ people without proper authorization – in some instances knowingly engaging in this type of employment practice.

A state’s workers’ compensation law defines eligibility for benefits.  In many instances, one’s legal employment status does not serve as a bar to benefits after following a work injury.[1]  The issue of hiring someone not legally allowed to work in the United States is not going away.  The only true way to deal with such issues is to make good faith efforts when verifying someone’s work status.  The reality is even if an employer undertakes these efforts, people not legally allowed to work will continue to seek employment.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

6 Opportunities to Improve Your Return to Work Program

July 23, 2018 by 

Lost time from work is a significant driver in workers’ compensation claims.  Consider some of the following statistics:

  • On any given workday, up to 5% of the total US workforce is off work;
  • Lost wages and productivity account for $267 billion per year – with roughly $88 billion of that amount attributed to work injuries; and
  • Time off from work due to injury accounts for additional stressors on employees, employers and the claims management team. This includes increased workplace dissatisfaction, loss of workplace morale, increased overtime (including mandatory overtime costs) and a reduction in the quality of work one performs.

Return to Work icon for article, 6 Opportunities to Improve Your Return to Work ProgramThe bottom line is nobody wins when an employee is off work due to an injury.  Based on these factors, interested stakeholder seeking to improve their workers’ compensation programs and improve efficiency should seek to return injured workers to work – and do so as soon as possible.

 

Opportunities to Return Employees to Work

Quick and effective return to work benefits all interested stakeholders.  There are countless ways to return an employee to work following an injury.  It takes time and energy, but it has many benefits to the program’s bottom line.  This requires a plan that needs to be in writing and strictly followed to drive program efficiency.

  • Prepare a written RTW policy: This policy should encourage all employees regardless of their age, tenure with the employer or position to return to work following a work injury.  It should require contact between all interested stakeholders.  One key consideration is the number of weeks an employee can perform light duty work with the date of injury employer.  Doing so tends to motivate employee’s to return to return quickly to work.
  • Prepare a written job description: When it comes to job descriptions, the devil is the details.  Important information should conform to the state’s workers’ compensation act and what is considered “suitable gainful” employment.  Items that need to be defined include both the essential and marginal functions the employee will perform.  The wages and hours and employee will work are also important;[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

School System Summer Break – 4 Proactive Work Comp Tips

June 12, 2018 by 

Schools Out for Summer graphic for atricle, School System Summer Break – 4 Proactive Work Comp TipsInterested stakeholders in the workers’ compensation process are constantly seeking ways to reduce program costs.

One area includes the discontinuance of workers’ compensation benefits for school employees and teachers suffering from the effects of a work injury during the summer break period.  While statues and case law interpretations vary in each jurisdiction, employers and insurers are generally limited in their ability to discontinue or suspend various workers’ compensation benefits for school employees during this time of year – even if they have no plans of looking for work while under restrictions on their activity.

Schools Out – Time to Discontinue Work Comp Benefits?

While the school year typically runs from late August through late May, employees of school districts around the country sustain work-related injuries every day.  The ongoing effects of those work injuries do not magically disappear for summer break.  Sadly, those hot summer days a teacher, paraprofessional or administrative staff employee would like to spend at a beach, can be spent at home convalescing.  Proactive members of the claims management team might view this as an opportunity to discontinue ongoing wage loss and vocational rehabilitation benefits.  Unfortunately, this is often not consistent with many state workers’ compensation laws via case law interpretation.

One case on point comes from Minnesota, where a school district sought to discontinue ongoing wage loss benefits at the conclusion of a school year.[1]  The rationale for the discontinuance was based on the premise the employee did not intend to work during the summer months, and the result was no loss in wages.  A compensation judge rejected this argument and affirmed by the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals.

[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

4 Foundational Elements of Return to Work Success

April 23, 2018 by 

When worker’s compensation was created over 100 years ago as the first form of social insurance in America, the number one reason and goal of the program was to return employees to their pre-injury state. Number one reason and number one goal of worker’s compensation was to return employees to their pre-injury state, both medically and from an occupation standpoint, their ability to work.

Transitional duty graphic for article, 4 Foundational Elements of Return to Work SuccessHello, my name is Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx. And if that is the truth, which it is, the number one goal of worker’s compensation is to return employees to their pre-injury state, the best way to do that is with a very effective return to work program. Now there’s a lot we could talk about with return to work.

There’s a lot of different nuances, but what I want to discuss today is where I see companies falling down the most. And that’s right out of the gates in the policy, in the transitional duty policy, and the strategy and the philosophy as to how an organization even looks at setting up a return to work in the first place. Because if you’re not doing this right out of the gates, then you’re setting yourself up for failure, or at least you’re setting yourself up to not be as successful and have things run as smoothly as they could.

4 Foundational Elements of Return to Work Success

We’re going to cover four critical elements to return to work or transitional duty policy that you need to have implemented at your organization to set things up properly. Let’s talk about what these are.

Temporary

First thing is it needs to be temporary. Return to work needs to be temporary, and this should be no more than 90 days. The vast majority of healing should be occurred in most injuries … of course, you need to be flexible on this in order to accommodate for the ADA … but as you’re communicating this, as you’re setting this up, the vast majority of cases, temporary transitional duties should last no more than 90 days. And if you’re not on that path, then you need to bring up some other claim interventions to get things going in the right direction. So number one is temporary.

Similar to Employee’s Current Position and Flexible

Number two is it needs to be similar to their current position. As you’re looking at creating a transitional duty job, the first place to look is that it’s similar to their current job. Look at the functional abilities that you get from their provider, from the medical provider, Continue reading 4 Foundational Elements of Return to Work Success

Consider Computer Ergonomics to Reduce White Collar Work Comp Claims

illustration of good computer egronomicsRepublished with permission from ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Blue-collar employees are not the only ones that have workers compensation claims. Office workers, especially those that sit in front of a computer all day, are having their share of workers compensation claims. Carpal tunnel syndrome, neck aches, and back aches are common musculoskeletal disorders and they are on the rise.  Additionally, eye strain, headaches and stress on the body from poor computer mechanics can interfere with the employee’s productivity

The wrong placement of the keyboard, the monitor, the mouse, the chair or the work surface can produce unnatural stress on the body, especially if the employee is forced to sit and work in an unnatural position.  Poor posture, tilting to either side, leaning forward or stretching to work, all produce pressure on the neck and spine.

Proper body positioning at the computer is important enough that OSHA has put forth guidelines designed to reduce the number of injury claims that result from improper body alignment with the keyboard and monitor.  The goal of the guidelines is to create neutral body positioning.  When the body is in a neutral position, the joints of the body are naturally aligned.  This minimizes the stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

The OSHA guidelines for computer ergonomics include:

  • Hands, wrists and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor.
  • Head is level or bent slightly forward, forward facing, and balanced.
  • The head is in-line with the neck and torso.
  • Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.
  • Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable.
  • Back is fully supported with the appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly.
  • Thighs and hips are supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor.
  • Knees are about the same height at the hips with the feet slightly forward.

In addition to having the body properly aligned with the keyboard and monitor, the employee should all take the following steps to reduce the likelihood of creating a musculoskeletal problem:

  • Stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically.
  • Stretch the torso, legs, arms, hands and fingers.
  • Dangle the arms by their side, shift the position of their legs and shrug the shoulders.
  • Make small adjustments to the chair and backrest.
  • Look away from the computer and refocus the eyes on a distant point.
  • Vary the work in order to utilize different muscles Continue reading Consider Computer Ergonomics to Reduce White Collar Work Comp Claims

Slips, Trips & Falls = Big WC Claims

four icons for slip and fall accidentsHave you ever put much thought into the “slip resistance” rating of the shoe you and your employees wear to work? Here’s some information that may have “slipped” by you!

Slip, trip and fall injuries make up 15 percent of all worker’s compensation claims.
The average slip and fall worker’s compensation claim is nearly $22,000.
Sixty-five percent of lost work days are due to slip and fall accidents.
Twenty-two percent of slip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work.
Twenty-four percent of workplace slip and falls can be directly attributed to footwear.
How can I protect my employees from slip and falls?
A great way for an employer to reduce slip and fall accidents is with a company-wide slip resistant shoe program. This program should be a part of an overall safety plan and can be handled by the safety director or loss prevention specialist in the organization. A good slip resistant shoe program can reduce slip and falls by 50 percent or more with little or no cost to the employer.
By mandating employees wear appropriate footwear for their working environment and providing guidance about where and how to purchase slip resistant shoes, businesses can proactively reduce their accident rates and better protect their employees.
How do slip resistant shoes prevent slip and falls?
Slip resistant shoes have a specially made sole that offers increased resistance to sliding or skidding in wet or greasy surface conditions. This sole is made from a softer rubber compound that is designed to provide more traction by gripping the microscopic roughness of the walking surface. Additionally, slip-resistant shoe soles typically feature a grid-like tread pattern that funnels liquid out from under the shoe, preventing hydroplaning on water or grease.
How do I know my employees are wearing the right shoes?
Not all slip resistant shoes perform equally. Make sure that employees are only wearing shoes that have been tested and have a slip resistance rating. Many of the shoes from retail shoe stores claim to be slip resistant, but don’t offer any significant increase in protection for your employees. A quality slip resistant shoe vendor should be able to produce test results to verify the slip resistance of their shoes.
What styles of slip resistant shoes are there?
Nearly any type of work shoe can be made with a slip resistant sole. Depending on your workplace, the shoe styles your employees wear will vary:
1. If you run a restaurant, your kitchen workers might be wearing waterproof clogs, while your servers could be wearing oxfords.
2. A hospital or long-term care facility will be a great setting for comfortable, supportive sneakers.
3. An industrial or manufacturing setting needs something tougher, such a steel toe or comp toe work boot.
4. Consider keeping a stock of various sized overshoes on hand for new hires to wear until they get proper footwear, or for visiting supervisors.