Tag Archives: workers comp

WCRI Conference to Highlight Trends, Solutions to Opioid Dependence in WC Read more: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com Blog – Work Comp Roundup http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/blog/#ixzz5ADUnw98M Copyright Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

March 19, 2018 by 

“We find extensive opioid prescribing leads to longer duration of temporary disability. When we compare the effect of longer-term opioid prescriptions with no opioid prescriptions, the effect is to triple the duration of temporary disability benefits.”

chart of top 10 WC cost drivers for article, WCRI Conference to Highlight Trends, Solutions to Opioid Dependence in WC  Read more: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com WCRI Conference to Highlight Trends, Solutions to Opioid Dependence in WC http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2018/03/wcri-conference-highlight-trends-solutions-opioid-dependence-wc/#ixzz5ADXykgVK  Copyright Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.  Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No DerivativesThat finding from the Workers Compensation Research Institute highlights the latest trends in the opioid epidemic as it relates to the workers’ compensation industry. It represents the first evidence of a causal relationship between long-term opioid use and disability duration. The authors will be on hand to delve into the research and the topic during WCRI’s Annual Issues and Research Conference in Boston this month.

Latest Evidence

The WCRI researchers looked at data from 28 states for low back pain injuries between 2008 and 2013 where workers had more than 7 days of lost work time. Additional findings were:

Local prescribing patterns play a significant role in whether injured workers receive opioid prescriptions. In certain states and particular areas within states, injured workers are more likely to receive opioid prescriptions than in other areas. When they compared injured workers with the same injuries in different areas, they found that a 10 percentage point increase in the local rate of longer-term opioid prescribing was associated with a 2.6 percentage point higher likelihood that a similarly injured worker would receive longer-term opioid prescriptions.

Opioid prescriptions persist, despite recommendations against them. While most medical guidelines do not typically recommend prescribing of long-term opioids for low back pain, about 12 percent of WCRI’s sample had them prescribed, and about 39 percent of workers had at least three opioid prescriptions.


3 Areas to Prevent Workers’ Comp Claims from Office Employees

When employers hear the word ergonomics, they tend to think about teaching their employees proper lifting techniques to prevent back injuries and to prevent the resulting workers’ compensation claims. As back injuries for laborers account for a disproportionate share of the number of work comp claims and a disproportionate share of the cost of work comp that is understandable. However, there are a significant number of workers compensation claims to office workers that could be prevented through proper office ergonomics.

Prevent Injuries by Applying Ergonomic Principles

info graphic of how to avoid carpal tunnel computer workSitting in an office chair that is incorrect for the employee is often the cause of back pain. Using a computer keyboard that is placed improperly often results in carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries. These types of injuries can be prevented by applying ergonomic principles – the scientific study of individuals and their physical relationship to the work environment.

An office ergonomics plan should have the goal of adapting the workplace to fit the individual needs of each specific employee. To accomplish this, three areas need to be considered.

  • Physical shape and size of the employee
  • Employee’s job description
  • Tasks the employee is required to complete.

In an office environment, a comfortable workstation depends on how the workstation is set up. The location of the computer screen, where the keyboard is placed in relation to the hands, and the type of office chair. An ergonomically incorrect workstation is easy to identify by the employee who is sitting forward in his/her chair, hunched over looking at their computer. The correct workstation will have the employee looking straight ahead while sitting back in their office chair, which provides the employee with lumbar support to keep the back straight, and the neck and head erect. Another quick tip-off that the office is not ergonomically friendly is when all the cubicles have the same height for the work surface, and all the cubicles have the same style office chair.

Incorrect Computer Usage Results in Musculoskeletal Problems

Incorrect computer usage and computer placement results in musculoskeletal problems, eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches. Using a computer involves sitting at the same place for an extended period of time, while engaged in small repetitive motions of the hands and fingers, and repetitive movement of the eyes. These activities will cause the employee to develop various strains and fatigue.

The office employees should be encouraged to:

  1. Shift positions, stretch, walk or take a short break every hour.
  2. Vary their work to utilize different muscles.
  3. Have annual eye exams.
  4. Be sure their workstation or workspace is set up ergonomically correct to fit their physical needs and requirements.

4 Reasons For Spike In Workers’ Comp Claims

upward arrow graph for article, 4 Reasons For Spike In Workers’ Comp Claims

Every day employers can introduce increased risk for worker injury. At any given time, outside or internal forces can create a new hazard for injury. With the injury comes medical cost, lost wages, decreased production, decreased profit margins, more strain on current workforce, and other negative issues.

Below we will discuss a few factors involved in the increased risk of worker injury and the way to decrease the hazard when these forces are present in your workplace.

1) New Equipment in the Workplace:

Your workforce has a span of experience that varies by employee. Some workers are new to your industry, whereas others may have decades of experience. But new equipment is a great equalizer.

When there is hazardous equipment on the work floor unknown to your operators, the risk of serious injury increases dramatically. Your workers are unfamiliar with these machines, and, without proper training, a severe injury may occur.

The way to prevent injury is to take the time to properly train each employee on proper use of the new machine. Make sure they complete the training course and can pass a safety test before operating the equipment. This should decrease your risk, and make your workers safe.

A lot of employers ignore training, letting experienced workers train others. Managers can be surprised that older workers typically do not have the advanced technological experience to know these new machines inside and out, and therefore, without a properly trained workforce, you run the risk of increased worker injury.

2) Benefit Reductions:

As the economic environment continues to evolve, employers are scrambling to find ways to stay competitive.  Some are experimenting with decreasing fringe benefits made available to employees, or by decreasing the employer contribution which increases employee cost for the same benefits package they may have had for years.


Future Trends and How Medical Care Affects Outcomes

February 5, 2018 by 

It’s fourth and goal from the one-yard line in the closing seconds of the first half of Superbowl 52. Without hesitation, the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Doug Peterson sends his team back in to go for the touchdown rather than kick the conservative field goal. They direct stack the ball to the running back. He tosses an easy lob to quarterback Nick Foles, who waltzes into the end zone for the score.

Of course, the Eagles went on to win that very entertaining and exciting Superbowl 52, which in my opinion, was defined by that one play.

Hello, I’m Michael SPreparedness quote from Vince Lombardi for article, WCRI Preview: Future Trends and How Medical Care Affects Outcomes  Read more: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com Blog - Work Comp Roundup http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/blog/#ixzz56MzvfjoK  Copyright Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.  Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivativestack, CEO of Amaxx, and while Justin Timberlake is not going to be coming to perform at any of our national conferences or daily activities, it doesn’t mean that we need to be any less prepared. One of the ways that I like to prepare when we’re creating strategies, policies, procedures, implementing systems of work comp management to create the best outcomes is by leveraging the research done by the work comp research institute.

WCRI Annual Issues Preview: Future Trends

What I want to do today is give you a little preview of the upcoming WCRI annual issues conference, so that we can know as individuals as well as an industry as a whole how to best be prepared for what’s coming down the pike. So, let’s talk about some of these sessions, and really, in the reviewing of the content that I’ll be covering, there’s really two major themes. The first is these future trends, and what’s next coming down the pike in workers compensation. They’re leading off the session with one that I feel is going to be very interesting, which is the future labor force trends and the impact of technology presented by Dr. Erica Groshen, who was the former head of the bureau of labor statistics.

Now, if you’ve ever been on the BLS website, and you’ve ever looked anything up, you know that it’s very rich in data. Personally, I often find it very valuable, but often very overwhelming at times as well. So, I’m looking forward to this session to listen to Dr. Groshen break down some of this data. Tell us some of these meanings. Have us able to understand some of these important metrics that are key for us to follow. So, that’s gonna be a tremendous session which I’m looking forward to as they start today.

WCRI then continues on this future theme with Dr. Rick Victor returning to the stage talking about workers compensation in 2030, and then wrapping up on the second day with “The World of Work is Changing Fast. Are You Prepared?” This will be a panel discussion from various experts within our industry talking about these future trends and their implications.

Again, allowing us to prepare as individuals as well as an industry, so when that opportunity arises, we can execute flawlessly.


Strengthening Workplace Health, One Resource at a Time

Use CDC Workplace Health Resource Center to help employees improve their health.

Isabel Kurita of the Boise School District in Idaho promotes healthy lifestyles among employees to lower risks like obesity that may lead to chronic diseases like diabetes. “We have the same concerns as everyone else in the country when it comes to health risks. We want to make sure we have behavior change programs to reach as many people as possible.”

The wellness coordinator for 3,200 employees and retirees, Kurita was happy to find a new place for good ideas and tools to improve her team’s health.

photo of employees in break room for article, Strengthening Workplace Health, One Resource at a TimeIt’s the Workplace Health Resource Center (WHRC), a new website CDC launched in August 2017 with more than 200 tools to help employers build their wellness programs—from breakroom posters to guides on how to reduce heart disease and stroke.

WHRC offers these free resources for organizations to help employees with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, obesity, smoking, and other health concerns.

CDC introduced the new website at the Public Health Grand Rounds, a monthly series created to encourage discussion on major public health issues like workplace wellness.

Worksite Health Scorecard logoCDC Worksite Health ScoreCard has science-based strategies to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.

New Workplace Health Resource Center

CDC and other health and wellness experts continually screen new information to add to the website. A one-stop shop for workplace health promotion and wellness tools, the WHRC includes:

  • Tutorials on how to start a workplace health promotion program that fits each organization’s needs
  • Webinars
  • Videos
  • Case studies on what has worked for other employers when it comes to fitness, obesity, stress management, quitting smoking, and work/life balance strategies.[SEE FULL STORY HERE]

Start the New Year Off Right With an Ergonomic Review

Blog Editor’s note: You can schedule a complimentary ergonomic review with the Physical Therapy Office at Central Coast IndustrialCare at ‭(805) 922-5003‬.

January 4, 2018 by Michael Stack

The New Year provides employers an opportunity to re-examine the issue of ergonomics in the workplace.  Making sure that workplace ergonomics is in place for all employees not only improves workplace morale but can reduce the costs of workers’ compensation claims in the future.

What is Ergonomics?

Defined by Webster, ergonomics is the “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.”  This study includes a review of workstations and job functions to reduce muscle overuse, correct poor posture and eliminate injuries cause is repetitive work activities.  It can also include a review of policies and procedures that seek input from a varied of interested stakeholders—include the person perform a particular work function.  It is important to include a review of tools used on a daily basis and other intangibles including, but not limited to workspace lighting.

illustration of correct ergonomics for office worker for article, Start the New Year Off Right With an Ergonomic ReviewImplementing an Effective Review

A proper ergonomics review includes the use of different specialists and stakeholders.  Beyond using a qualified specialist, it is important to include input from company management and employees performing job functions.  This review can also include a review of available resources and budget constraints.

It is also essential to understand the demographics of your labor force.  Studies show that Americans are working into their later years.  This is resulting in more severe injuries from repetitive type injuries that lead to longer periods of disability.  Factors to consider when addressing this issue include:

  • Age discrimination laws that prevent employers from engaging in unlawful labor practices;
  • State and federal OSHA laws and regulations; and
  • Addressing injury and post-injury response.


The Significance of Maximum Medical Improvement in Workers’ Comp

How MMI can both reduce your Workers’ Comp costs and benefit the overall health and well being of employees.

December 13, 2017  by Michael B. Stack

The concept of “maximum medical improvement” (MMI) is an important notion in workers’ compensation claims.  This concept is based on the fact that it often triggers the discontinuance of various wage loss benefits.  In other instances, once an employee reaches MMI, cases are prime for settlement.  Failure to identify this status promptly can add unnecessary costs to claims and the bottom line of a workers’ compensation program.

doctor viewing exray on a tablet for article, Significance of Maximum Medical Improvement in Workers' CompWhat is MMI?

Maximum medical improvement (in some instances referred to “end of healing period”) is a legal concept where no further significant recovery from or lasting improvement to a personal injury can be reasonably anticipated, regardless of subjective complaints from the employee.  In essence, additional medical care and treatment may still be required to keep the employee in a stable condition, but no noticeable improvement will take place in that medical care.

Each jurisdiction has a legally defined standard for MMI.  This standard is defined in statute or rule and interpreted via case law.  Any doctor or health care provider can usually declare an injured employee to be at MMI if they have an adequate foundation to issue their findings and opinions within a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

Significance of MMI in Your Claim

Placing an employee suffering the effects of a work injury at MMI has a significant impact on the employee’s ability to receive future workers’ compensation benefits including entitlement to wage loss.  In some jurisdictions, it can reduce or limit the employee’s ability to receive future medical care via a workers’ compensation program.


ADA vs. WCC – Return to Work & the Interactive Process

What does it mean to return to work for a work related injury versus a non-industrial injury? What is reasonable accommodation? What is are the consequences for failing to accommodate adequately?

Return To Work logo graphic to go with article, ADA vs. WCC - Return to Work & the Interactive ProcessAt the 2017 CWC and Risk conference a panel leads a discussion on return to work and the interactive process.

Outcome is the same regardless of the type of injury. Whether the injury is work replaced or non industrial injury you must follow the interactive process. Tips for return to work include require a medical status authorizing return, internally designate who receives the status, and find out if the work restrictions are temporary or permanent. Company should have the employee sign the job analysis or job description upon return.

What should you do with conflicting medical reports?

    • still need to engage in interactive process(this is required under ADA)
    • gap between workers’ compensation and employment law
    • engage employee
    • ultimately the employer has the final decision
    • stay consistent with each employee
    • fitness-for-duty exam is an option
    • no return to work should be considered where there is a safety concern for workers or others

What is acceptable medical documentation?

Require for all medical status or certifications must include statement that worker has a disability or medical condition that requires accommodation or restriction, sufficient detail of the restrictions or accommodations required, and length of expected restriction or accommodation.

What is a “disability?” FEHA definition of disability is:

Physical: physical condition or disorder that affects a major bodily system and that limits a major life activity

Mental: having any mental or psychological disorder or condition that limits a major life activity

“Limits” means simply that the condition makes achievement of the major life activity difficult.

Under workers’ compensation there is no requirement that the employer must accommodate temporary modified duties however, under FEHA, the employer must determine if they have a “disability” and is this employee disabled under ADA.

Essential job functions

If the workers is disabled, must accommodate to effectively enable him or her to perform an “essential” job function.

    • Proving a job function is “essential”
    •  failure to perform the job function has legitimate business consequences


Improve Your Safety Training Through the Use of Technology

08/16/17    Safety National

photo of workers in hardhats using high tech screens for atricle, Improve Your Safety Training Through the Use of TechnologyAs injuries continue to occur and claims increase, employers are often left scratching their head as to why. That is because “Telling” is not safety training. ”

Normagene Dmytriw, Senior Safety & Occupational Health Specialist, Broward County Government, Risk Management lead a discussion at the WCI’s 2017 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference. As technology improves, and becomes more readily available and affordable, employers are looking to technology to provide creative and effective learning options.

Gamification advantages

  • Fun
  • Engaging
  • Sense of achievement

Gamification disadvantage

  • Winning over objectives
  • Difficult to translate learners game progress to objectives
  • Costs equipment costs and software costs
  • OSHA
  • Novelty wears off

Using simulators – a machine with a similar set of controls designed to provide a realistic imitation of the operation. There is virtual and manual.

Advantages of simulators

  • Safe learning environment
  • Unlimited attempts
  • Retain information more efficiently
  • Learners are more engaged
  • Don’t have to wait for a real situation
  • Feedback is immediate


  • Cannot fully re-create real life situations
  • Cost purchase, updates and maintenance
  • Not every situation can be included
  • The results and feedback are only effective as the actual training provided

    Webinars are virtual lectures or training sessions delivering a presentation to a large dispersed audience. If you are going to used webinars they are great for safety committees and to educate safety professionals on current issues but they are not OSHA compliant. Some advantages are convenience, affordable, efficient, and long term value. Some disadvantages are not all web browsers are the same, internet speed, mobile devices may not be ideal, not for compliance and participants are not engaged.

    Training is vital to the success of your employees. It’s important to invest in training programs that teach your employees and create thought provoking ideas to make your safety programs more efficient.


Even Small Quantities of Opioids Prescribed for Minor Injuries Increase Risk of Long-Term Use

Source: Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
May 17, 2017

short term opioid use rish graphOverprescribing of opioid medications for pain has contributed to a record-high number of drug-related deaths in the United States in recent years. A significant part of the issue, experts say, is the vast amount of variation in opioid prescribing habits for minor injuries such as ankle sprains — which don’t require treatment with such risky drugs in the first place.

For example, patients who received their first opioid prescription for an ankle sprain treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) commonly received prescriptions for anywhere from 15 to 40 pills, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Those who received 30 or more pills compared to less than 15 pills were twice as likely to fill an additional opioid prescription within three to six months. The authors say the results point to the urgent need for policies and guidelines to address when opioid medications are indicated for minor injuries and to reduce the number of pills supplied for opioid prescriptions. The study will be presented today during the plenary sessions at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting in Orlando, FL.

“The substantial variation in prescribing patterns of such extremely addictive medications for minor injuries results in many thousands of pills entering the community, and places patients at an increased risk of continued use and potentially addiction,” said lead author M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology at Penn. “It’s vital that we identify and understand the root causes of this growing issue.”