Investigating and Handling Repetitive Use Injuries

Repetitive use injuries account for a significant portion of claims in many workers’ compensation programs.  While these injuries can occur in any employee, they are becoming more prevalent in the aging American worker force.  It is important for claim management teams to investigate properly these claims to reduce the costs of claims.

 

 

A Case Study: The Anatomy of Repetitive Use Injuries

 

Frank Smith is a dedicated employee and has been working at the Acme Widget Company for over 20 years.  He has never missed a day of work since starting.  During a typical 8-hour shift, he will twist some knobs, pull some levers and walks back and forth along the widget-making machine.  The day after working a longer than normal shift due to high demand for widgets, Frank wakes up and is experiencing numbness and tingling in his arms.  He is later diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome with rotator cuff impingement in his shoulders.  Are these conditions work-related?

 

 

Common Features of Repetitive Use Injuries

 

The legal definition in every jurisdiction varies on compensability for these injuries.  Courts will look at a variety of factors when determining if such conditions are compensable.  There are some common aspects across all states workers’ compensation laws:

 

  • Whether the employee is performing “repetitive activity;”
  • Whether the repetitive motions or activities place stress on certain joints or body parts; and
  • The employee’s work activity must be unusual, in that it brings about a disability that would not occur in normal activities or in another employment.

 

 

Best Practices for Claims Investigation

 

Investigating claims of this nature are difficult given the tricky questions of causation medical experts must answer.  This is especially difficult when a workers’ compensation claimant leads an active lifestyle outside of their work environment.  Such activities as playing musical instruments, gardening, work with tools, equipment, and other activities of daily living place stress on one’s joints and body.

 

  • Define the specific nature of the employee’s work duties and activities. The use of video demonstrations of work activities and workstations can assist medical and vocation experts render credible opinions regarding causation.

 

  • Investigation into the employee’s prior medical, vocational and work history history. This would include obtain a complete history as to bodily movements they performed in the past and associated medical care for any injuries/conditions.  It is also important to find out why people left past positions, and obtain employment records to verify their recollection.

 

  • Determine all the facts surrounding the alleged work condition(s). This should include:
  • The development of symptomology and what work activities gave rise to the alleged symptoms;
  • The employee’s awareness of their condition(s) and at what points they thought they might have a work-related condition;
  • Dates or time periods the employee took time off from work due to their condition(s) and their rationale for taking the time off; and
  • The circumstances surrounding and reports of injury the employee made, why they reported the injury and to whom it was reported.

 

The concept of legal “notice” often comes into play regarding these claimed injuries.  It is important to under the case law and relevant legal definitions when defending a repetitive use injury claim.

 

 

Other Important Considerations

 

Properly defending repetitive use injuries will also include an independent medical examination.  Prior to having the employee seen by a medical expert, it is paramount that as much relevant information is collected beforehand.  It is also important to have an expert who has treated the conditions being alleged in the past.  If the employee is contemplating surgery, it will also be important to determine your doctor’s surgical experience and expertise.

 

The question of workplace ergonomics can also come into play.  It is important to have this angle of the claim examined, as sometimes a condition cannot occur from a physiological standpoint.  Specialists and vocational experts can examine and comment on these issues.

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. 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.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

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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.

 

Saskatchewan WCB Sees Further Drop in Overall Workplace Injury Rate

The Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board (WCB) recently released its 2014 injury rates.

 
The data indicates a further decrease in the overall workplace injury rate despite an increase in the number of workers. In 2014, there were 402,894 Saskatchewan workers covered by WCB, over 4,000 more workers than the previous year.

 
The WCB’s Vice President of Prevention, Phil Germain, agrees that while more work must be done to bring our injury rates down, the progress made over the past decade is very encouraging.

 
“Last year, our Total injury rate in Saskatchewan was 7.80 percent. We set a goal for 2014 of 7.50 percent”, Germain said. “As of December 31, 2014 we surpassed that target. The Total injury rate for 2014 was 6.99 percent. That is a significant improvement.”

 
Germain also attributes this marked improvement to the employers, workers and WorkSafe partners around the province who have made safety a core value in their workplaces.

 
In addition to improvements to the overall injury rates, the number of accepted Time Loss claims reported dropped from 10,116 in 2013 to 9,715 in 2014. Time Loss injury rates dropped from 2.54 percent in 2013 to 2.41 percent in 2014.

 
“In 2014, 87 percent of employers reached the Mission:Zero target. They had zero workplace injuries. Zero is possible,” Germain said. “What this result suggests is that Saskatchewan workers are safer on the job today than they ever have been.”

 
Still Work to Be Done

 
But Germain cautions there is a long way to go.

 
“The most recent Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) statistics show the national time loss injury rate average at 1.65 percent. While comparative data differs somewhat, Saskatchewan’s Time Loss injury rate is almost twice the national average at 2.41 percent,” Germain said. “Other jurisdictions in Canada are also improving their safety records just like we are but we have a lot more ground to cover.”

 
Deputy Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Mike Carr is also encouraged by this continued downward trend in workplace injuries in the province.

 
“In order to reduce Saskatchewan’s high workplace injury rate, Occupational Health and Safety has adopted a new strategy that focuses on employers with the highest workplace injuries,” said Carr. “Early results of this strategy are encouraging. Priority employers with approved safety plans are on track to achieve an 18 per cent reduction in workplace injuries and it is now clear that targeted intervention activities are reducing injuries in workplaces with high injury rates.

 
“The WorkSafe partnership has been very beneficial in focusing public attention on Saskatchewan’s appalling injury rate and directing limited resources on the right activities to make workers and workplaces safer,” added Carr. “We all benefit from safer workplaces in Saskatchewan.”

 
Germain reinforced the need for workplaces across the province to adopt the goal of Mission: Zero. “We need to continue to keep safety a priority in workplaces everywhere. We can’t afford to take short cuts because lives are literally at stake.

 
“Any workplace fatality is unacceptable and an indication that more needs to be done to make workplaces in Saskatchewan safer. These are people, not statistics. They are husbands and wives and daughters and sons. They are why we need to achieve Mission: Zero.”

 

 

 

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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Workplace Injury Claims Falling in Victoria (Australia)

Anytime workplace injury claims go down, that is a positive thing.

 
As of Dec. 31, 2014 there were 7.32 claims per million hours worked (MHW) in Victorian (Australia) workplaces, a reduction on the 7.37 claims per MHW recorded at the end of 2013/14.

 
The results were released to key stakeholders by Finance Minister Robin Scott MP, acting chair John Walter and acting chief executive Clare Amies at a briefing at the State Library of Victoria.

 
In his address to stakeholders representing unions, employer groups and peak body associations Scott highlighted the need for further improvements in workplace safety.

 
“Generally workers in Victoria are safer than they have ever been, but still too many have been killed or seriously injured,” Scott said. “And when it comes to support for those injured workers who have been unable to return to work, we must do more to get them back to work.”

 

Workplace Safety Regulator in Sustainable Spot

 
Amies said that the workplace safety regulator remains in a financially sustainable position.

 
“WorkSafe recorded a performance from insurance operations (PFIO) result of $94 million and a net result after tax of $104 million,” she said. “The financial results have been influenced by strong markets, prevailing economic conditions and a higher than forecast increase in liabilities.”

 
According to Amies, the increase in forecast liabilities was a key driver of the PFIO result.

 
“Our ability to provide quality workplace injury insurance protection for Victorian employers and workers relies on maintaining a scheme with an efficient cost structure and a healthy balance sheet,” she said.“And we want to ensure that premiums remain competitive with other jurisdictions.These results tell us WorkSafe is still in a very good position to deliver on those objectives.”

 
Amies said Victorian workers and employers had once again demonstrated that Victoria is leading the way in workplace safety.

 
Amies also noted that“Our aim is for Victoria to maintain the best workplace safety and workplace injury insurance scheme in the country, and so far we have made excellent progress towards those targets.”

 

 

 

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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Wisconsin Employer Facing More than $102K in Fines

Once again, workers were exposed to dangerous amputation hazards while fabricating metal products because safety mechanisms were not in place at Wisconsin-based Koser Iron Works Inc., according to officials.

 
Responding to a complaint, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found during an inspection initiated on Oct. 1, 2014, two willful, four repeated and 12 serious safety violations, including lack of training and personal protective equipment.

 
The agency has proposed fines of $102,180 for the Barron-based company.

 
“Workers’ pay the price when companies fail to follow safety standards,” said Mark Hysell, OSHA’s area director in Eau Claire. “Machine hazards are among the most frequently cited by OSHA. All manufacturers should examine their procedures to ensure they are in compliance. It takes seconds for a worker to be severely injured, but often a lifetime to recover.”

 
While Koser employees made die changes on punch presses, the company failed to use energy control procedures, including powering off and affixing locking devices to prevent unintentional operation of a press. The company also failed to ensure safety mechanisms were in place on its power presses and lathes. Similar hazards were found in a 2013 investigation after a complaint prompted an inspection at the same facility.

 
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.

 

Lack of Training in Place

 
Inspectors also found that lift truck operators were not trained before operating equipment, a violation also noted in 2013, which produced a second repeated violation.

 
OSHA issues repeated violations if an employer was previously cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the past five years.

 
Workers were also found to be exposed to explosion and fire hazards because Koser failed to store flammable liquids properly; electrical equipment and lift trucks were not approved for areas with flammable atmospheres; and the company failed to install a required ventilation system in the storage room.

 
Koser Iron Works also failed to ensure the use of eye protection or to evaluate employees medically before they used respirators. Damaged welding and electrical equipment were also noted.

 
In total, 12 serious violations were issued.

 
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

 

 

 

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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If No Light Duty Is Available, Can The Employer Terminate Employment?

We had very successful webinar recently on the New ADA Return to Work Interpretations.  There were many questions from the audience.  Find below the responses to the questions related to the Interactive Process given by Aaron Konopasky, Senior Attorney Advisor, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Michael Stack, Risk Consultant, Co-Author Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers Comp Costs

 

 

If someone is pregnant and on light duty, but light duty is not available, can the employer terminate the employment?

 

The inclusion of pregnancy makes this much more complicated.  The Supreme Court just decided a case called Young v. UPS that addresses this issue, and it’s complicated enough that I won’t address it here.

 

So let’s assume that someone is put on light duty because of a disability.  (A pregnancy-related illness or injury can be a disability too.  It only gets more complicated if the pregnant person needs light duty based only on the fact that she is pregnant, without any associated medical condition.)

 

If no light duty is available, I would first make sure that the employee really can’t do his or her normal job, even with a reasonable accommodation.  (Could he or she do the regular job on an alternative schedule?  With special equipment?  From home? …)  Sometimes doctors aren’t thinking about the possibility of reasonable accommodation when they decide whether someone can return to “full duty.”

 

If there really is no way that the employee can do her original job, the employee should be allowed to use accrued leave or FMLA leave, if any.  (Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks under FMLA, provided that certain other requirements are met.)

 

If the employee has no accrued leave or FMLA leave available, but additional unpaid leave would allow the employee to return eventually, and would not cause significant difficulty or expense to the employer, then the leave should be provided as a reasonable accommodation.

 

If leave would not allow the person return eventually, or if it would cause significant difficulty or expense, then the employer needs to consider reassignment.  If there is a vacant position, and the employee is qualified, and reassignment would not cause significant difficulty or expense, then the reassignment must be provided as a reasonable accommodation.

 

If none of the above options are available, then the person can be terminated.

 

 

If we have a transitional duty program, are we in jeopardy of being sued by employees if we terminate them because we cannot provide a reasonable accommodation?

 

Whether you have a transitional work program or not, employers must provide reasonable accommodations that allow an employee to do his or her regular job, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense.  If the employer fails to do this, then the employee could sue.

 

So, before terminating someone, the employer must ask whether a reasonable accommodation would allow the person to accomplish what the job requires.  If so, then the employer has to provide the accommodation.  (The employer is not required to offer additional transitional work, which is different from a reasonable accommodation, but it could choose to do so as a workers comp cost containment best practice).

 

If an on-the-job-accommodation wouldn’t help, or would cause significant difficulty or expense, the employer would need to consider unpaid leave as a possible accommodation (Employers with greater than 50 employees are required to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA).  If additional leave would allow the person to return eventually, and would not cause significant difficulty or expense, then the employer should provide the leave.

 

If unpaid leave would not allow the person to return eventually, or would cause significant difficulty or expense, then the employer should consider reassignment to a vacant position for which the employee is qualified (if one exists), as a reasonable accommodation.  If none of those options are available, then the employee can be terminated.

 

 

What if an employee, during the interactive process, says no, he or she is not aware of a reasonable accommodation?

 

If an employee who is having trouble at work because of a disability can’t think of an accommodation that would allow him/her to remain on full duty, the next step is to look for possible solutions together.  Calling the Job Accommodation Network, for example, might be helpful.  There is no cost.

 

If, after searching for an accommodation, you decide that there just isn’t one that allows the person to work at full capacity, then you would need to explore the possibility of leave or reduced work responsibilities.  If the person has accrued leave available, or is eligible for FMLA leave, then he or she should be allowed to use it.  (Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide up to 12 weeks leave under FMLA, provided that certain other requirements are met.)

 

If the employee has no accrued leave or FMLA leave available (because the employer has less than 50 employees, because it has already been used, or for any other reason), unpaid leave could be a reasonable accommodation if it would allow the person to eventually return and would not cause undue hardship.  The employer also has the option of voluntarily offering a transitional work assignment.

 

If the employee is expected to never be able to return to his or her original job, then the employer needs to consider reassignment.  If there is a vacant position, and the employee is qualified, and reassignment would not cause significant difficulty or expense, then the reassignment must be provided as a reasonable accommodation.

 

 

What about union contracts that stipulate “no light duty?”

 

The ideas of light duty and reasonable accommodation need to be kept separate.  The union contract could not be interpreted to mean “no reasonable accommodations,” because then the contract would violate federal law.  What this means is that, if an employee has a disability, and can’t do his or her normal job, the employer still needs to figure out whether a reasonable accommodation would allow the person to do the essential functions of the job without causing significant difficulty or expense.  The employer would also need to consider leave and reassignment as reasonable accommodations, when appropriate.

 

The contract is addressing a different sort of solution: creating a temporary new job for the person that isn’t as physically demanding.  It’s the difference between finding a different way for the employee to meet the usual demands of his or her job, versus giving the employee a different job temporarily.

 

 

What about employees in transitional duty that are literally counting paper clips or just sitting in a break room?

 

[Publisher’s note: What you are referring to is a very ineffective return to work program as counting paper clips is not productive for the employee or employer.  This practice occurs when the employer has not properly prepared for Return to Work.  A more effective strategy is to create a transitional duty job bank prior to injury that contains a list of productive light duty positions. Ask supervisors to create a ‘wish list’ of tasks they need completed, but have not had time to complete. Another strategy is to create a Job Demands Library working with an expert in physical therapy or ergonomics to more easily place employees in positions that can accommodate their physical restrictions.]

 

The ADA does not require the employer to provide transitional duty where the employee cannot meet the usual demands.  So, in this case, the counting paper clips could not be required by the ADA.

 

However, the employer should determine whether a reasonable accommodation would allow the person to return to his or her regular job.  If so, the employer is required to provide it unless it would cause significant difficulty or expense.  If not, the employer would also need to consider leave and reassignment as reasonable accommodations, when appropriate.

 

 

Author:

Aaron Konopasky is a Senior Attorney Advisor in the ADA/GINA Policy Division at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) headquarters in Washington, D.C.  He assists the Commission in interpreting and applying the statutes it enforces, and participates in drafting regulations, policy guidance, and other publications.

 

Dr. Konopasky joined EEOC after receiving his J.D. from Stanford Law School.  Prior to law school, he received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University, and served as an adjunct professor of philosophy at Rutgers University, Tulane University, and the University of New Orleans.

 

 

Author:

Michael B. Stack, Principal, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. 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.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Santa Clara County D.A. Charges 3 with Comp Fraud

Three California individuals ended up recently on the wrong side of the law.

 
A lab worker, a housekeeper at a local mall and a roofer were each charged with felony insurance fraud in individual cases whereby they reportedly claimed that their workplace injuries prohibited them from going back to work.

 
Cosme Cortes-Alva, 39, of San Jose, Nancy Benitez, 28, of San Jose, and Ajitender Singh Chadha, 53, of Union City, were looking at the possibility of prison, if convicted. All have been arraigned and will be forced to pay full restitution.

 
The three allegedly noted debilitating injuries and were later caught doing physical activities beyond their stated limitations, this while taking in thousands of dollars in insurance benefits.

 

All Play and No Work

 
In one instance, a man was videotaped for two hours clambering up and down from a roof, this despite claiming he was too injured to work and that he was terrified by ladders.

 
Alva, who fell off of a roof and suffered injuries to his back in 2013, falsely testified at a deposition that he had been unemployed since his fall.

 
Benitez; who was hurt while on the job doing housekeeping tasks at a store in the Valley Fair Mall four years ago; informed the insurer that she could not walk or drive minus extreme pain. She was later seen behind the wheel of a car, shopping and caring for a child.

 
Lastly, Chadha indicated he was injured during a 2011 accident at the lab where he worked.

 
Claiming he could no longer work and was dependent on his wife’s income, he was later found to be the owner and operator of a gas station, and that he was concealing his income.

 

 

 

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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COMPClub Offers Expert Training to Slash Workers’ Comp Costs

New Service from Amaxx, Leader in Cost Control, Provides Unique Training Community

 

COMPClub, offering training, community and knowledge- for everyone who needs to help their organization or clients reduce workers’ compensation costs has been unveiled by Amaxx Work Comp Solutions, a training firm and publisher.

 

“This is a new way for risk managers, adjusters, vendors, attorneys, brokers, carriers, and employers with an interest in controlling workers’ compensation costs to increase their knowledge and apply it,” said Rebecca Shafer, a renowned workers’ comp expert who heads Amaxx. Shafer’s pioneering methods have been proven to slash workers’ comp costs by 20 percent to 50 percent.

 
COMPClub offers a full menu of benefits free with membership:

 

 

  • Live quarterly workshops. One-day workshops on key cost containment topics will be held in different regions of the US. These will give COMPClub members a deeper level of interaction with experts and each other in a hands-on, interactive classroom setting.

 

  • Best Practices monthly webinars on topics such as return-to-work, post-injury response, and medical management. Led by Shafer or another top expert, the webinars will give attendees state-of-the art knowledge on best practices and creative solutions.

 

  • Monthly small-group mastermind calls offer the opportunity for interactive learning. A group of up to 10 peers will share their challenges and successes implementing the training material in the spirit of collaboration where participation is encouraged and solutions are discovered.

 

  • The monthly CompClub newsletter will summarize, highlight, and simplify the discussions on the topic of the month. Members will receive practical tips to implement into their organizations immediately.

 

  • Members-only events networking events at the annual RIMS and National Workers’ Comp and Disability conference.

 

  • A members-only LinkedIn group and CompClub members directory.

 

  • Opportunity to private-label Amaxx products and publications at a discount.

 

 

 

Workers’ Comp Newcomers

 

For those that are new to workers’ compensation there is a special subgroup designed to get quickly to speed. This program focuses on workers’ comp 101 topics and is a safe place to answer all the questions newcomers are too afraid to ask.

 

 

Sign up Now for Risk-Free Trial and Receive 40% Off First Year Membership

 

COMPClub membership is $99 per month, with the first month FREE. People who pre-register will get 40% off first-year membership dues for a limited time.

 

“There’s no cost and no commitment sign up. Our risk-free trial allows users to try out the COMPClub experience,” said Amaxx president Michael Stack.

 

To find out more or sign up for COMPClub, visit www.workerscompclub.com.

 

Texas’ DWC to Host Annual Workplace Safety Event

Employers in Texas looking to learn more about safe workplaces will get the chance in May during a three-day event.

 
The Division of Workers Compensation (DWC) will host the 19th Annual Workplace Safety and Health Conference, the Texas Safety Summit May 19-21, 2015 in Austin at the Doubletree Hotel Austin, located at 6505 IH-35 North.

 
The DWC is hosting the summit to help employers reduce injuries and associated costs through training in workplace safety and return-to-work programs. The summit is open to all segments of the Texas workforce, including small and large employers, public and private sector employers, and workers compensation subscribers and non-subscribers.

 
This year’s general sessions include the following presentations:

 

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Approach to Meeting Future Safety and Health Challenges by Steve Wurzelbacher of NIOSH;
  • Understanding the Distracted Brain “Why We Can’t Hang Up: The Connection Between Cell Phone Addiction, the Brain’s Inability to Multitask, and Distracted Driving” by Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke of the University of Texas;
  • The Human Factor: Using Integrity and Safety Related Personality Assessments to Screen out High Risk by Dennis Fox of The Client Development Group; and
  • Motor Vehicle Safety: Steering Clear of the Leading Cause of Workplace Fatalities by Jeremy Hansen of Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

 

The Texas Safety Summit will also offer four optional pre-conference sessions and 25 breakout sessions covering a variety of workplace safety and health related topics including effective safety management processes and systems, workplace violence prevention, hazardous materials and communication standards, transportation safety, and regulatory compliance.

 

The Texas Safety Summit is a learning opportunity for professionals in an array of industries who play a role in safeguarding Texas employees.

 
The registration fee for the conference is $275 per person if registered by May 1, 2015, and $300 per person if registered on or after May 2, 2015. Discounted rates are available for groups or employers that send five or more participants.

 
Texas State Technical College in Waco will provide continuing education credits (CEUs). Attendees will be eligible to receive 0.1 CEU per hour of attendance on May 19, 20, and 21.

 
For additional conference information, call 512-804-4610, e-mail safetytraining@tdi.texas.gov or visit the DWC website at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/safety/summithome.html.

 

 

 

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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Washington’s L&I Cites, Fines Pair of Employers

Multiple serious safety and health violations at a worksite in Fife have resulted in Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) citations and fines for two Western Washington State businesses — Smarttalent LLC of Kirkland and Innovative Repairs LLC of Fife.

 

An investigation found that temporary workers were entering fuel tanks with no controls in place to ensure their health and safety. Entering confined spaces like fuel tanks without safety precautions in place can be deadly to workers and would-be rescuers. These types of incidents are fully preventable.

 

Smarttalent was cited for 19 serious violations and fined $120,400. Innovative Repairs was also cited for 19 serious violations and fined $46,200. The difference in the penalty amounts reflects the size of the employers, the number of workers exposed and the employer’s good faith efforts to comply.

 

Smarttalent is a staffing agency that provides temporary workers to Innovative Repairs, which services fuel tanks and containers for mining operations in Alaska.

 

Inspections Began When Safety Procedures Weren’t Followed

 

The inspections began in October last year after the state Department of Ecology notified L&I that workers were entering the fuel tanks to clean and service them and that no safety procedures were being used.

 

The fuel tanks were 20 feet long by 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall, with a 20-inch entry hatch on top. To clean inside the tanks, the workers climbed through the hatch and down a 6-foot stepladder.

 

Entering fuel tanks exposes workers to “confined space” hazards that can include suffocation, toxic atmospheres, engulfment, entrapment or other dangerous conditions. It also puts rescuers in danger.

 

When a confined space has one or more hazardous characteristics that could harm workers, it’s considered a “permit-required” confined space. That means employers must control access to the area and use a permit system to prevent unauthorized entry. Anyone working in or around a permit-required confined space must be trained and there must be safety measures and rescue procedures in place.

 

The companies were also cited for violations related to hazardous chemical recognition and training.

 

Innovative Repairs has appealed the citation, and Smart talent has 15 working days to appeal.

 

Penalty money paid in connection with a citation is placed in the workers compensation supplemental pension fund, helping workers and families of those who have died on the job.

 

 

 

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.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

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Workers Comp Roundtable Roundup

The Workers Comp Roundtable was started on Linked In as a place where colleges can collaborate and share ideas on workers comp cost containment best practices.  Today the group has grown to over 14,000 members.  The Roundtable Roundup features the most active discussions, highlights and summary of all the action on the Roundtable last week.  We appreciate members thoughts, comments, and participation in the WC Roundtable. If you are a member, join in the discussion, if you are not a member, join here!

 

 

Want a Great Risk Management Program – Develop A Great Claims Management Program

 

Posted by Jeff Marshall

 

I have written that risk management programs must be top down- only when you have a true and palpable commitment from the highest levels of the organization will everyone understands that risk intelligence is central to the organization’s Core Mission. I have blogged that risk management must be a grass-roots function – having a shared appreciation of risk management is central to maintaining a risk intelligent culture. These allusions to the center or core of the program are merely road signs. The true epicenter of any great program is the claims management program.

 

Weigh In On This Discussion

 

 

 

Monday Muses -the downward spiral continues

 

Posted by David DePaolo

 

We never know what the phone call coming into the Centre will require, we just know that for the majority of calls it will be calls for help: such was the case last week: the first call was hard to take, the lady calling was sobbing, the kind of deep sobs that come from the bottom of a very broken heart and from pride that has been shattered.

 

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CMS Alert: New Conditional Payment Appeals Process

 

Posted by Aaron Frederickson

 

Final rules are in place regarding the new conditional payment appeals process. This new process will impact all workers’ compensation and personal injury claims on or after April 28, 2015. It is important to all impacted stakeholders to take new of this new rule and adjust their best practices accordingly.

 

Weigh In On This Discussion

 

 

 

Prescription Drug Costs Rose Faster Than Ever for Many Americans: Report

 

Posted by Mary Ann Lubeskie

 

The prices for new hepatitis C and cancer treatments are driving the cost of prescription drugs to new highs for more Americans, according to a new report.

Specifically, the estimated number of people in the U.S. who took medicines worth more than $50,000 annually rose 63% last year, to 576,000, up from 352,000 the year before.

 

Weigh in on this discussion

 

 

 

The Roundtable Roundup is brought to you by your group managers:

 

Michael Stack & Rebecca Shafer; Founders of COMPClub; Authors of Amaxx Workers Comp Resource Center  and Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers Comp Costs

 

Bob Wilson; Author of Bob’s Cluttered Desk and CEO of Workerscompensation.com – The Workers Comp Compliance Center

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