Tag Archives: workplace health

6 Steps to Identify and Address Mental Health Challenges Early

April 20, 2017 by Leave a Comment

mental health issues at workThe days of focusing solely on an injured worker’s physical injuries are over. Savvy employers and payers are finding that ignoring behavioral issues can end up costing a boatload of money in delayed recoveries. Early intervention, good communication and worker advocacy are among the best practices to use.

Injured workers who have, or develop undiagnosed and untreated behavioral health issues are more likely to fall into the ‘creeping catastrophic’ claim pool; a simple meniscus tear that degenerates into a months- or years-long claim with multiple treatments and medications — and exorbitant costs.

Identifying and treating these issues is tricky. The stigma attached to mental health issues prevents many people from seeking treatment; providers and claims handlers are often unfamiliar with signs and symptoms; and payers may be reluctant to pay for something they believe is unrelated to the actual injury. However, it behooves employers and other payers to at least consider ways to target behavioral health issues among their injured workers.

Behavioral Health Issues

Behavioral health issues — also called mental health or psychosocial — include a variety of diagnoses. Anxiety and depression are the ones more commonly seen among injured workers.

In addition to an extended duration of the claim, some signs that may indicate a psychosocial issue is present include:

  • Pain develops due to non-medical issues.
  • Function does not improve.
  • Multiple providers are involved.
  • Visits to the emergency room with drug seeking behavior.
  • Overutilization of treatments.
  • Catastrophic thinking.
  • Perceived injustice, toward the employer or others.

There are myriad reasons why some injured workers develop psychosocial issues, related to such things as adverse childhood experiences, environmental stimuli or genetics. The important thing is to identify them and intervene as early as possible.


Man’s Cardiac Arrest Death Linked to Workplace Bullying

headshot of Evann GastaldoBy Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2017

(NEWSER) – Eric Donovan loved his job of 17 years at a Canadian nonprofit agency that runs group homes and programs for adults with intellectual disabilities. But during the final years of his life, that love turned to stress as Donovan felt he was being bullied by Nadine Hendricken, his supervisor at Queens County Residential Services.

bullying is not partt of the job, signThe stress got so bad he and his wife, Lisa, started fearing for his health.
On Oct. 31, 2013, he collapsed at home. He died days later of cardiac arrest at age 47. Now, Lisa has been awarded benefits after the Workers Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island determined that

Donovan’s death was linked to bullying and harassment in the workplace, the CBC reports. Eric Donovan had no pre-existing medical condition that would have caused his death, the board heard. The suit also claimed he had been forced to do unsafe work and work extra hours, the Guardian reported last year.

Continue reading Man’s Cardiac Arrest Death Linked to Workplace Bullying

Impact of Mental Health at the Workplace

By Safety National 10/06/2016

name tags: Hello My Name is StressThis session at the 2016 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference addressed some of the latest thinking and research related to the impact of mental well being and behavioral health in the workplace.
Speakers included:
•  Denise Zoe Algire, National Director, Managed Care & Disability, Corporate Risk Management, Albertsons/Safeway

•  Dr. Teresa Bartlett, Senior Vice President Medical Quality, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.

Mental health is a key component of wellness. It is a state of well-being in which an individual can cope and become a contributor. It includes how someone feels, thinks and acts and helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Ultimately, mental health is about balance, resiliency and the ability to return to normal when something goes wrong. Mental health is also directly associated with performance in the workplace.

Studies show:

•  16% of people in the workplace are depressed and 57% of those
are untreated.
•  14% have chronic fatigue, with 83% untreated.
•  15% suffer from anxiety, with 66% untreated.
•  6% have chronic sleeping problems, with 61% untreated.
Continue reading Impact of Mental Health at the Workplace

Workplace mHealth Program Shows Improvement In Step Count, Weight Loss

Satish Misra, MD | April 6, 2016

imagesA new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) has shown that a team-based workplace mHealth challenge using pedometers and online tools can get people moving more and help them lose weight.

Sedentary lifestyles, particularly in the United States, are a big contributor to a variety of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. There’s a lot of enthusiasm around using mobile technology to help get people moving more, highlighted in a recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association. And the data is starting to catch up with that enthusiasm.

The mActive study recently showed improvements in step counts with an intervention using adaptive, personalized text messaging paired with a connected pedometer.

This study looked at Stepathlon, a workplace mHealth program that gives employees pedometers, gets them together in teams, and sets up a 100-day competition to increase activity and step counts. Participants came from nearly 500 employers in 64 countries, the majority of whom were from low and middle income countries. Using a website or a mobile app, participants could track the leaderboard, access personalized tools for self monitoring, and get health & fitness tips. Continue reading Workplace mHealth Program Shows Improvement In Step Count, Weight Loss

Feeling Emotionally Attached to Work Leads to Improved Well-Being

No wonder I couldn’t keep working as a dishwasher!

I Heart My Job buttonBy WorkersCompensation.com
Elk Grove Village, IL

Workers who feel emotionally attached to and identify with their work have better psychological well-being, reports a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Efforts to increase affective organizational commitment (AOC) may lead to a happier, healthier workforce — and possibly contribute to reducing employee turnover, suggests the new research by Thomas Clausen of the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, and colleagues.

Affective organizational commitment is defined as “the employee’s emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in the organization.” The new study looked at how AOC affected psychological well-being and other health-related outcomes in approximately 5,000 Danish eldercare workers, organized into 300 workgroups.

The results showed significantly higher well-being for employees in workgroups with higher AOC. Workgroups with high AOC also had lower sickness absence rates and fewer sleep disturbances, as reported by workers. Continue reading Feeling Emotionally Attached to Work Leads to Improved Well-Being

Is Horseplay in the Workplace Compensable?

By ReduceYourWorkersComp 07/08/2015

Homer Simpson workplace safety poster. No HorseplayHorseplay and lack of safety and loss control mechanisms is a significant driver in any workers’ compensation program.  By instituting effective written policies, stakeholders can take a proactive step to controlling costs by preventing unnecessary workplace injuries.


An All Too Common Hypothetical

Frank and Ralph work for Sparky Electric Company.  One day Frank is working on a power line about 15 feet above the ground in a cherry picker.  Ralph triple-dog-dares Frank to jump to a trampoline located on an adjoin property.  Frank accepts the dare, but misses the mark.  He breaks both legs and suffers a low back injury.  Are these injuries compensable?


Compensability of Horseplay

It is a common misconception that “horseplay” is not compensable.  To the contrary, horseplay is often compensable under most state workers’ compensation laws.  In evaluating these cases, courts will typically follow the rules outlined in Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law. These factors include:

  • The extent and seriousness of the deviation;
  • The completeness of the deviation, i.e., whether it was commingled with the performance of a duty or involved an abandonment of duty;
  • The extent to which the practice of horseplay had become an accepted part of the employment; and
  • The extent to which the nature of the employment may be expected to include some horseplay.

Important to this discussion in the “prohibited acts doctrine,” and whether the employer’s policies and procedures specifically prohibit the act that results in the workplace injury.  No policy can be ironclad and anticipate every aspect of an employee’s conduct while on the job.  Certain modifications can be made to promote a safer work environment and reduce workers’ compensation exposure.


Effective Safety and Loss Controls

  • Safety Training.  The development of an effective safety-training program for all employees is the first step to reducing unnecessary claims in any workers’ compensation program.  This training must incorporate all new employees and follow-up programs tailored to the needs of existing persons.  Information and assistance on these program is typically available free of charge through a state department of labor or other entities concerned about worker safety.
  • Incentive Programs.  Employers and other stakeholders concerned about worker safety have seen immediate success in the reduction of work injuries through incentive programs.  These incentives include financial bonuses for the reduction of work injuries, as well as other fringe benefits.
  • Accident Investigation.  Workplace accidents do happen.  This is why it is important for an employer to respond to them in an effective manner.  Part of this includes empowering employee’s to have confidence that when an incident is reported, it will be properly investigated and resolved with understanding and compassion.
  • Other Safety Programs.  Any safety program requires buy-in from supervisors and management.  If this takes place, the culture of safety will dominate a workplace and the results will trickle-down to other employees.

Employer Defenses Against Work Comp Claims Involving Marijuana


So far the judicial trend is favoring the employer in defending against injuries and claims involving marijuana use on the job or coming to work under the influence. Employees terminated or denied employment because of a positive drug test for marijuana have been up held by the courts.

A few of the most noteworthy cases are:

Montana: Johnson vs. Columbia Falls Aluminum
California: Ross vs. Raging Wire
Michigan: Cassias vs. Wal-Mart
Washington: Roe vs. Teltec Customer Care Management
medical marijuana daily dose tray
Some states allowing medical marijuana have had decisions in favor of the employee. These cases involved issues where the employee sought use of marijuana to recover from a workers compensation injury. A few of these cases are:
Louisiana: Creole Steel vs. Ricky Stewart
California: Liberty Mutual and Farmers Insurance vs. Cockrell
New Mexico: Ben’s Auto Services vs. Vailpandro

Arizona, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island have written protection sections for the employee in their laws. However there is still question if these protections are legal and constitutional. At this point in time it seems rulings are unavailable.

Federal Law Should Trump State Law As Marijuana Still Illegal

Federal law should trump state law since Federal Law still has marijuana as an illegal substance. Further laws and rules for commercial drivers, pilots, railroad engineers, and public transportation operators all have adverse penalties for marijuana and other substance abuses.


OSHA Dialogue on Hazardous Work Chemical Exposures

Caution! Hazardous Chemicals signWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced it is launching a national dialogue with stakeholders on ways to prevent work-related illness caused by exposure to hazardous substances. The first stage of this dialogue is a request for information on the management of hazardous chemical exposures in the workplace and strategies for updating permissible exposure limits.

OSHA’s PELs, which are regulatory limits on the amount or concentration of a substance in the air, are intended to protect workers against the adverse health effects of exposure to hazardous substances. Ninety-five percent of OSHA’s current PELs, which cover fewer than 500 chemicals, have not been updated since their adoption in 1971. The agency’s current PELs cover only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce, many of which are suspected of being harmful. Substantial resources are required to issue new exposure limits or update existing workplace exposure limits, as courts have required complex analyses for each proposed PEL.

Continue reading OSHA Dialogue on Hazardous Work Chemical Exposures

OSHA Top 10 List Can Help You Avoid Costly Penalties

By ReduceYourWorkersComp 
graphic for OSHA Top 10 Violations listOkay, as far as entertainment value goes, it may not rival late night television hosts and their opening monologues, but OSHA did publish its list of the “Top 10” most frequently cited construction standards, following inspections of work sites in 2013.

No, OSHA was not intent on pitting itself against the likes of David Letterman or Conan O’Brien in a comedic battle of wits. Rather, it was attempting a pre-emptive strike, aimed at saving businesses from needlessly paying out high penalty fees (up to $7,000 for a serious violation, and as much as $70,000 for repeated or willful viol

Top 10 Lists Alerts Employers About Commonly Cited Standards

OSHA annually publishes this “Top 10” list to alert employers about commonly cited standards, so employers can take steps to find and mend recognized hazards before OSHA ever takes punitive action against a company. Normally, OSHA does not grant advanced notice of its inspections, and inspections are generally performed at sites where imminently dangerous situations are known, fatalities or catastrophes have occurred, complaints or referrals have been given, the work site has been issued a citation in the past, or inspections may be pre-planned or programmed.

While it poses no threat to replace the heroes of late night television, OSHA is meeting its goal of reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace.
Continue reading OSHA Top 10 List Can Help You Avoid Costly Penalties

OSHAConsidering New Reporting Procedures For Work Injuries


DWC_logoOSHA is concerned that injury reporting may be inaccurate because employers may have policies that discourage employees from reporting injuries.  Therefore, OSHA is considering three provisions:

1) A requirement that employers inform their employees of their right to report injuries and illnesses free from discrimination or retaliation;

2) A provision requiring that any injury and illness reporting requirements established by the employer be reasonable and not unduly burdensome; and,

3) A prohibition against disciplining employees for reporting injuries or illnesses.

OSHA is asking the following questions:

* Do you or does your employer currently inform employees of their right to report injuries and illnesses?  If so, please describe how and when this information is provided.

* Are there any difficulties or barriers an employer might face in trying to provide such information to its employees?  If so, please describe them.

* How might an employer best provide this information:  orally to the employee, through a written notice, posting or in some other manner?