Ohio BWC Board Backs New Rule

Things look to be changing in Ohio when it comes to workers compensation and caring for injured employees.

 
A new rule approved recently by the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) Board of Directors allows BWC to provide care to injured workers more quickly following an injury. The first fill rule will ensure that injured workers receive necessary medications while the future of their claims is being determined.

 
“This new rule is significant for injured workers in Ohio, especially those who do not have health insurance or are otherwise unable to foot the bill while awaiting claim approval,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “All injured workers should have the same access to immediate treatment, which in some cases is a matter of life and death. Other states have made similar changes, and I’m pleased injured workers in Ohio will now receive the same protection.”

 
Change Applies to New Injuries

 
The rule will apply to new injuries and allows for immediate fill of prescriptions for acute injury medications prior to formal claim approval.

 
A 1955 statute previously restricted BWC from allowing this change, but recent legislation proposed by BWC allowed for the newly approved first fill rule to develop.

 
The rule, available here, details the circumstances under which BWC will pay pharmacies for the first fill of prescription drugs before BWC issues initial claim determination orders.

 
In cases where the first fill rule is used, but the claim is ultimately denied by BWC, the medication payment will be charged to BWC’s surplus fund account and not to the employer associated with the disallowed claim.

 
“We anticipate that this rule will be used for a small percentage of injured workers, but that it will nonetheless have a meaningful impact on their quality of life following their injuries,” added Buehrer.
If approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, the rule is expected to become effective Feb. 1, 2015.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

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OSHA Imposes $1M Fine, 2 Workers Die in Mine

A fine of more than $1 million was recently delivered to a mine owner following two fatalities.

 
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced that it has imposed a fine of $1,077,800 following its investigation into the deaths of two miners at Revenue Mine on Nov. 17, 2013. The underground silver ore mine, located in Ouray County, Colorado, was operated by Star Mine Operations LLC.

 
Around 2 p.m. on the day before the accident occurred, approximately 1,600 pounds of deteriorated explosives were detonated underground in an open air blast. Crew members of the next shift, which reported to work later that evening, were neither notified of the blasting activities on the previous shift, nor was the area where the explosives were set off – called the Monogahela Drift – barricaded to prevent miners from entering.

 
Two miners on that evening shift became ill while working in that area and retreated from the mine. A third miner also returned to the surface after encountering what he called “bad air.”

 
Despite complaints to mine management from the three miners, no action was taken to identify, correct or report the hazardous condition in the drift. When explosives are detonated, carbon monoxide is released into the atmosphere. It is a toxic gas that can pose a serious risk to workers in an underground mine.

 
The following morning, two members of the day-shift crew traveled into the drift to observe the results of the shots fired on the previous day.

 
One of the miners, Nick Cappanno, who had one month of mining experience, was overcome by toxic levels of carbon monoxide, while the other miner was able to retreat from the area. In an attempt to rescue Cappanno, the shift boss, Rick Williams, entered the drift and was also overcome by carbon monoxide. Twenty other miners were exposed to carbon monoxide while unsuccessfully attempting to rescue the two victims. Seven of them were hospitalized.

 
MSHA investigators determined that the fatal accident occurred due to management’s failure to dispose of deteriorated explosives in a safe manner. The explosives were detonated in an area of the mine that was not ventilated, and no post-blast examination was conducted.

 
Management also failed to take any action when two miners went into the unventilated Monogahela Drift and reported feeling ill, and it failed to withdraw miners as a result of the imminent danger created by the blast. Management did not establish an accurate and viable ventilation plan, barricade or seal un ventilated areas, or properly train new employees on mine health and safety procedures.

 
Finally, MSHA was not immediately notified of the reportable accident involving the two miners falling ill during the evening shift on Nov. 16 when they were exposed to toxic gasses caused by the blast in the Monogahela Drift.

 
After the accident, approximately 400 pounds of damaged and deteriorated explosives were removed from the mine and safely detonated. The remaining explosives were removed from the mine’s underground storage facilities, inventoried, separated by product type and date code, and stored in surface magazines.

 
As a result of its investigation, MSHA issued eight unwarrantable failure orders, including six designated as flagrant violations. A flagrant violation is defined as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximate caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.”

 

Deaths Were Entirely Preventable

 
“Mr. Cappanno and Mr. Williams’ deaths were entirely preventable,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “They were the result of mine management’s failure to establish and follow basic safety precautions.”

 
On Sept. 25, Revenue Mine was put on a pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. MSHA cited 92 significant and substantial violations at Revenue Mine during the 12-month review period beginning Aug. 1, 2013, and ending July 31, 2014.

 
The agency identified patterns of S&S violations related to roof and rib hazards, handling of explosive materials, ventilation and training practices. Fifty-seven of the citations included either high negligence or reckless disregard by the mine operator.

 
The mine’s S&S issuance rate was 15.67 per 100 inspection hours during the review period, compared to a rate of 4.59 for all other underground metal and nonmetal mines during the same period.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Ohio Man Caught on Video Faking Workplace Injury

They say the video never lies.

 
A Cleveland (Cuyahoga County) man was placed on probation for a year and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service for filing a false workers compensation claim against his employer.

 
Glenn Jones pleaded guilty and was sentenced recently in Cleveland Municipal Court on one count of workers comp fraud, a first-degree misdemeanor.

 
The employer’s employer’s security video reveals that Jones stomped a hole in a wooden floor the night before he said he was injured and on the following day, lowered his foot into the floor and laid down on the platform.

 
“We’re pleased that the claim was dismissed before any benefits from the State Insurance Fund were paid out,” said Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “That fund is intended to care for workers who are truly injured.”

 

Employer Tipped Off Authorities

 
BWC’s fraud investigators began looking into the matter after receiving an allegation from the employer.

 
They reviewed security video provided by the employer, and interviewed Jones and other employees.

 
Jones had claimed he suffered a number of injuries, but the investigation and video evidence confirmed those injuries did not occur as Jones had reported, and that a false claim had been filed.

 
The security video is available here.

 
Jones was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which was suspended in lieu of probation and community service.

 
If he violates probation or fails to perform community service, he will serve the jail sentence.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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British Employer Fined, Worker Has Ankle Crushed

A Loughborough, Great Britain employer was recently fined for safety breaches after an employee’s ankle was crushed by a woodworking machine.

 
The 46-year-old man, who has asked not to be named, was trying to flush lubricant through the grease unit on the machine at Advance Display Ltd when the incident happened on Jan. 28, 2013.

 
He had one foot on the floor and the other on a base plate of the computer-controlled machine, which puts patterns in wood placed on a large moving bed.

 
He asked a colleague to turn the machine on and as it had already been programmed, it immediately moved forward, crushing his foot between the base plate and the moving bed.

 
The man, from Whitwick, near Coalville, had to have two operations and was off work for five months. He has since returned to the company and is able to walk unaided but will never regain full movement in his ankle and foot.

 
Investigation Finds Broken Equipment

 
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that for certain tasks on the machine, the operators used to have a mobile remote-controlled pendant in their hand to control the machine. However, the pendant had been broken for more than three and a half years and Advance Display Ltd had never replaced or repaired it.

 
When the employee asked his colleague to switch on the machine, the latter lost sight of the former so could not see he was not clear of the machine.

 
Advance Display Ltd of Falcon Business Park, Meadow Lane, Loughborough, was fined more than $24,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than$4,300 after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Every year around a dozen people are killed and 40,000 injured by machinery.

 

Free advice for employers of managing the risks is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Discrimination Claims in Wellness Programs

One major component of healthcare reform under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are wellness program requirements.  The purpose of implementing these programs is to help employee’s make better lifestyle choices such as the foods they eat, maintaining a healthy exercise program and engaging in behaviors that prevent serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes.

 

 

Consumer Protection in Wellness

 

While living a healthy lifestyle is important, the U.S. Department of Labor has expressed concern that employers may take their wellness initiatives too far.  In order to avoid unfair practices, the Labor Department is working to implement guidelines to protect consumers—the American worker.  These rules will ultimately:

 

 

  1. Assist employers to design programs that are reasonably designed to promote health or prevent disease, but at the same time provide “reasonable means of qualifying for the reward to any individual who does not meet the standard based on the measurement, test or screening.”
  2. Promote programs that are available to similarly situated employees and provide opportunities for people who work in different facilities or telecommute.
  3. Educate all employees on how they can qualify for rewards under a healthcare plan.

 

 

Under this system, employers are encouraged to be creative in their approach to meeting goals under a wellness program.  For example, if a person misses a biometric goal, they should be given the opportunity to attend classes designed to reduce their weight and educate that person on healthier food options.

 

 

Interaction of ACA with Other Laws

 

When implementing a wellness program, employers need to be mindful of other laws that come into play such as OSHA regulations, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or other state anti-discrimination laws.  In a recent case, employees at Honeywell have sought the assistance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by alleging the goals outlined in their program do not meet the “business necessity” requirement.  The affected workers note that previously the EEOC has cautioned employers to not “play doctor” and that mandated screening under a program can violate these laws even if they are in compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

 

 

Avoiding Legal Pitfalls

 

At this point, it is unclear how wellness programs will survive administrative reviews by entities like the EEOC and in the courts.  Regardless of the outcome, it is important for company stakeholders to be aware of the legal challenges their programs may face.  It is also important to obtain legal input when implementing a program.  Other steps can also be taken to avoid vexatious litigation:

 

  1. Fully engage the workforce you are dealing with and obtain feedback on how to maximize participation. It is also essential to have employees in leadership position promote and participate in the program.
  2. Review wellness program benchmarks and make sure they are in compliance with all state and federal discrimination laws.
  3. Provide employees who fail to meet benchmarks with reasonable alternatives to receive full credit for program participation. One example of this is providing nutrition coaching at no cost to employees not meeting weight guidelines.
  4. Remember that if a program requires employees to participate in fitness activities it could unnecessarily increase the risk injury that would be compensable under a workers’ compensation act.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Implementing a wellness program that works not only includes employer buy-in and employee participation, but compliance with a myriad of state and federal anti-discrimination laws.  These efforts require all aspects of a program to be reviewed and remedied to avoid the added costs of litigation in the future.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principle of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  As the senior editor of Amaxx’s publishing division, Michael is on the cutting edge of innovation and thought leadership in workers compensation cost containment. http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/about/.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Texas Continues Crack Down on Comp Fraud

Officials in the Lone Star State continue to go after those committing workers compensation fraud.

 
Commissioner of Workers Compensation Ryan Brannan recently announced final disciplinary actions taken by the Division of Workers Compensation (DWC).

 
The final actions include administrative penalties ordered against insurance carriers, health care providers and employers in the workers compensation system.

 
Since Jan. 1, 2014, the Commissioner of Workers Compensation has ordered administrative penalties totaling $1,774,345 for system participants. The penalties include $1,658,245 in fines ordered for insurance carriers, $65,600 in fines ordered for health care providers, $49,500 in fines ordered for other entities and $1,000 in fines ordered for employers.

 
Violations of the Texas Labor Code by insurance carriers cited in recent orders include failure to timely pay income benefits to an injured employee, failure to timely pay a medical bill, and retrospectively reviewing the medical necessity of a preauthorized medical service or treatment.

 
Violations cited in orders naming health care providers include failure to document an injury to justify ongoing treatments and medications and failure to timely file and/or accurately complete DWC forms, reports or records.

 
Violations cited in orders naming other entities include adjusters performing utilization reviews and issuing medical necessity denials without allowing health care providers a reasonable opportunity to discuss with a medical doctor.

 

Summaries of disciplinary actions are available on the TDI website at: https://wwwapps.tdi.state.tx.us/inter/asproot/commish/da/dwcclips2014.asp.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Taking Steps to Control Stress Is One Key to Overall Health Benefits

Stress Image

by Heather Klaus, Health and Wellness Manager, Medcor

 

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. People feel stressed for different reasons. Stress can be placed in two categories: good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). Examples of good stress or eustress include riding a roller coaster, playing sports or having a baby. These situations can actually inspire and motivate you. Keep in mind that even though you perceive these scenarios as enjoyable they still result in a physical reaction in the body such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, stomach tension, etc. However, when stress begins to feel like distress or bad stress, it’s a warning flag to regroup. When a situation starts to feel unmanageable or overwhelming, it’s time to take steps to manage stress for health’s sake.

 

Can you control stress? Yes! Well, you can control how you feel about stress. According to Al Ritter, author of The 100/0 Principle: The Secret of Great Relationships, there are techniques you can try to feel better.

 

Remember the “Five A’s”:

 

1) Apply the 100-0 principle to the stressor.

- Give 100 percent and expect zero percent in return, and you will never be disappointed.

 

2) Avoid the stressor

- Learn how to say “no” to a situat- ion that is causing your stress.

 

3) Alter the stressor

- Express your emotions and feelings in a respectful way as opposed to bottling up your feelings.

 

4) Adapt to the stressor

- Reframe the problem in order to find a solution. Ask yourself: how important is this situation in the long run?

 

5) Accept the stressor

- Accept what you can’t change or control.

 

 

Author: Heather Klaus, Medcor, Wellness Program Manager. Heather oversees Medcor’s internal wellness program for nearly 900 associates nationwide.  She also develops and supports wellness programs for Medcor clients.  Heather is a regular author and contributor to health and wellness blogs, videos and newsletters.  Heather holds a Bachelor’s in Science from Northern Illinois University in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a certified trainer, fitness instructor and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant.  http://www.medcor.com.  Contact: heather.klaus@medcor.com

Singapore Cracks Down on Crane Operators – posted 11/07/2014

Officials in Singapore are making sure workplace safety in the construction industry is a priority.

 
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently took action against 79 companies following Operation Goldcrest, a special enforcement operation that was conducted this summer. The enforcement operation targeted the construction industry, with a focus on unsafe lifting practices and crane operations.

 
A total of 80 worksites were inspected by MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, and 194 crane-related contraventions of the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act were uncovered.

 
Of these contraventions, 98 resulted in composition fines that totaled more than $95,000. The other contraventions saw 96 Notices of Non-Compliance1 issued to companies to warn them against unsafe lifting practices. MOM has also instructed the companies involved to address the findings of inspections and will monitor these efforts closely.

 
The top five contraventions uncovered included: a. Failure to maintain cranes in good working condition b. Failure to establish and implement a proper lifting plan c. Using defective lifting gear or lifting gear that had not been examined by an authorized examiner d. Failure to implement a proper Permit-To-Work system e. No indication of the Safe Working Load and lifting machine number on the lifting machineCrane safety remains a top concern.

 

Safety Concerns Continue

 
While none of the contraventions uncovered during Operation Goldcrest warranted a Stop-Work Order, the type and number of contraventions remain a concern.

 
Er. Ho SiongHin, MOM’s commissioner for WSH said, “The crane industry’s practices remain a serious concern. Besides the safe deployment of cranes, crane owners and occupiers have the responsibility to ensure that their cranes and lifting operations do not endanger workers or the public. MOM will take stern action against errant crane companies and occupiers. All occupiers and crane owners ought to put in place robust maintenance regimes and safety systems so that we can put an end to unsafe lifting operations”.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Effective Return-To-Work: Address the Issue at the Time of Injury

Return-to-work is often an issue that claim management teams do not think about until after a workers’ compensation claim has developed and wage loss maximums are paid out.  Instead of thinking about the issue later on in a claim, it is important for claim management teams to take a proactive approach and start thinking about return-to-work issues immediately once an injury occurs.

 

The best way to be prepared at the time of injury is to have the systems in place to appropriately respond.  Communication is critical in a return to work program, both with the injured worker, as well as the medical provider.

 

 

Communication with the Injured Worker

 

Being able to communicate with the injured worker is a key element to an effective program.  It is important to remember that everyone communicates differently.  The most important element to remember is the employee needs to feel cared for, and have proper expectations for how the process will work.

 

 

Transitional Duty Policy

 

A proper Transitional Duty Policy will include elements of the types of jobs, nature of assignments, how medical appointments are handled, length of transitional duty, rate of pay, and coordination with relevant laws.

 

 

Post-Injury Communication

 

Care is demonstrated through a Get Well Card after the injury, placing a First Day Phone Call, and holding weekly meetings with the injured worker. If you are able to identify and communicate with workers in a manner that best serves their needs, every claim outcome will be improved.

 

 

Medical Care Information

 

Injured workers need to know critical information such as where to obtain treatment for their injury and how to obtain prescribed medications.  Best practice TPAs give employers the ability to print on demand a personalized road map that contains relevant information to guide employees through the medical system. The document includes the date and nature of injury, claim number, network vendor contact information, and a telephone number to call with any general questions regarding their medical care.  The injured worker can easily understand where and how to receive the care needed to quickly return to work.

 

 

Communication With Medical Providers

 

The treating physician is an important partner in the assessment and recommendation for physical restrictions that will accommodate the injured worker in transitional duty. A lack of communication with the medical provider is a common error that inhibits a successful return to work program.

 

 

Information Regarding Employer Return to Work Program

 

The physician needs to know: 1) that a transitional duty program exists and that the employer will accommodate injury restrictions, 2) that physical restrictions should be identified and recorded, 3) that a more detailed description of the employee’s job can be provided upon request.

 

The information listed should be provided in a consistent and systematic way to ensure a successful outcome.  The physician should be provided a form to list the physical restrictions of the injured worker and be instructed to fax this information to the claims handler.

 

 

Information Regarding Utilization Review

 

Workers’ compensation insurers have limitations and requirements on what medical care they can provide without the insurers approval, and what medical care needs to be approved through Utilization Review.  Providing this information to the medical providers up front prevents delayed care, and more efficient and cost effective treatment. Frequent medical procedures needing prior approval can be listed on the employer provided ‘road map’, as well as a telephone number to call for procedures that require Utilization Review.

 

 

Implement Return-to-Work

 

With proper communication with the injured worker and the medical provider, implementing return-to-work becomes much easier.  The employer can make an informed determination to provide employment that allows for the injured employee’s physical restrictions.

 

 

Transitional Duty Job Bank

 

A best practice in preparation for a transitional duty assignment is to create a Transitional Duty Job Bank. Work with supervisors and department heads to identify alternate assignments, and work with medical professionals like an ergonomic, physical therapist, and physician to specify how jobs can be altered to accommodate medical restrictions.

 

 

Legitimate Offers of Transitional Employment

 

Requirements regarding offers of employment vary from state to state.  It is essential that every aspects of the job offer comply with the requisite statutes, including those for transitional duty.  In addition to these requirements, it is important that every job offer include the following elements:

 

  1. Name of the task being assigned;
  2. Date the job offer when it is sent to the employee;
  3. Duration of job specific tasks that include the length of time the person is required to be in a specific position or perform movements;
  4. Information regarding work breaks, including the frequency and length;
  5. Overtime requirements; and
  6. Description of specific job-related tasks.

 

Before the job offer is submitted, it is important to review work restrictions prepared by the treating doctor.  If the person preparing the offer is not familiar with the job, it is necessary to review it with a manager or view the actual job being performed.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Proactive claim management teams will address the issue of return-to-work at the time of the injury by providing systematic approach to communicate with essential parties.  By taking this approach, it will help them address the barriers to a successful outcome and allow them to assist their employer clients in an effective manner.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principle of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  As the senior editor of Amaxx’s publishing division, Michael is on the cutting edge of innovation and thought leadership in workers compensation cost containment. http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/about/.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Fines Proposed after Wisconsin Worker’s Death

The death of a Wisconsin employee has led to proposed fines of nearly $82K for one employer.

 
A 55-year-old worker was found unresponsive in a restroom at Bremer Manufacturing Co. Inc. on May 6, 2014, and later died. The man, who had been employed at the Elkhart Lake foundry for the past 38 years, worked with resin-containing isocyanates on the sand molding line.

 
Following an inspection, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the company failed to train workers on the physical and health hazards of chemicals in the workplace.

 
OSHA has cited the company for one willful, one repeat and one serious health violation.

 
“This inspection focused on employees who work with hazardous chemicals including a resin-containing isocyanates, which can cause employee sensitization. Isocyanates can cause chest tightness, trouble breathing and irritation to the lungs, eyes, nose, throat and skin. Even when exposure limits are below permissible levels, workers can experience health consequences, especially if they have other health risks and are exposed to chemicals on a routine basis,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA’s area director in Appleton. “Employers have a responsibility to train workers on the physical and health hazards of working with chemicals.”

 
OSHA cited one willful violation for failing to train workers in chemical hazards, as outlined under the National Emphasis Program for Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates.

 
Isocyanates are the raw materials that make up all polyurethane products.

 
Jobs that may involve exposure to isocyanates include painting, foam-blowing and the manufacture of many polyurethane products, such as chemicals, insulation materials, surface coatings and adhesives.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

 

Repeat Violation for Failing to Train Workers

 
A repeat violation was cited for failure to train employees, who were assigned to work with formaldehyde, on the chemical’s physical and health hazards. The company was previously cited for this violation in 2010 at the same facility. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

 
The company also failed to establish a written respiratory protection program, which is a serious violation of OSHA standards. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

 
OSHA has proposed fines of $81,900.

 
Bremer Manufacturing Co., an aluminum castings manufacturer, employs about 100 workers and was provided with 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

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