Paul Revere, Workers Compensation, and The Tipping Point

This Is Part 1 in a 3 Part Mini Series.

The Tipping Point in Workers Compensation

  1. Paul Revere, Workers Compensation, and the Tipping Point
  2. Make Your Work Comp Message Stick Like Gorilla Glue
  3. How Work Comp Can Be Just Like Prison

 

“One if by land and two if by sea,” April 18th 1775, Paul Revere was sent on a midnight ride to notify John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming. He was also tasked with notifying the countryside to be prepared for battle in one of the first stages of the revolutionary war. We all know that story, we all know the name Paul Revere, but there was a lesser known name, William Dawes. He was sent with that same task but why is Paul Revere famous in American history and William Dodd is a relative unknown?

 

I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx and I just finished reading for the second time The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I read it a number of years ago but I just read it again. I really thought it would be fun to do a little mini series about some of the lessons and the stories that Mr. Gladwell teaches in there about starting change, about starting an epidemic, which is what you’re often trying to do in a work comp management program and in implementation particularly in organization that has a significant difference in how things maybe have been done.

 

 

Law of the Few, Stickiness, and Power of Context

 

There’s 3 three elements that he talks about in there and I did a short mini-series, one on each. The first one is the law of the few. The second one is the stickiness factor, and finally the power of context. The law of the few comes into play when you’re trying to get buy-in. You’re trying to get buy-in from your organization that this is how we’re going to do things moving forward. How do you get that message across? How do you get people to buy into your program?

 

 

 

Certain Individuals Are Exceptional People

 

Three different types of people that he talks about in the book. The first is the connectors, second is the mavens and finally the sales people.  It’s a very popular book and many people have probably read it, but I want to have you not forget about these people, these innate skills. I’ll run through them quickly. The connectors are the people that know everybody, that have a lot of friends, have a lot of acquaintances, know everyone at the organization. The mavens are the researchers. These are the educators; these are the people that really read the policy in detail. When you’re looking to buy a new equipment you know you’ve got to to talk to Sue because you know she’s the only one that has really read everything in detail, researched it, looked it up. You have that level of trust in her because you know that’s an innate skill in her. The sales people are those people that are super smooth. You know that they have the charisma, they have that personality that people follow what they do, because that’s built into their personality.

 

 

 

Leverage The Exceptional People To Obtain Buy-In

 

When you’re trying to get buy-in the first step is to get your CEO involved as well as these people that have these innate skills. It’s critical to have people buy into your organization. Do not forget about the connectors. Do not forget about the mavens, the people that maybe will have researched all the doctors in your program, have researched all the vendors, have read through your entire policy, something that no one else probably did. Make sure you bring Sue on board. Make you bring your sales people on board. Make sure you bring your connectors on board. When you’re working with senior management, rolling out this program, do not forget about the law of the few and it can make a difference at your organization.

 

I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx. This is The Tipping Point mini series. Remember your success in workers compensation is defined by your integrity, so be great.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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

 

How To Avoid Work Comp Litigation


Hello, Michael Stack here with Amaxx. So, we are now past Thanksgiving and we are getting knee deep into the holiday season.  It’s a fun and exciting time of year, but there is also a lot to do.  You’ve got to get your shopping done, you have to get the decorations up, you’ve got to get the house cleaned up before the guest come over.  All kinds of things we do, all kinds of hoopla in this season, in ultimately the reason why is to spend that quality time with your friends and your family.  There is nothing like that face-face time to appreciate and deepen those relationships.  So, how does that apply to our work comp program?

 

 

WCRI Study – Avoid Litigation

 

WCRI did a study back in 2014, and it was all about avoiding litigation. It studied the factors that went into why employees will hire an attorney.  And there were three main findings:

 

  • The first one was a fear of getting fired, they were concerned about being fired just because they were injured on the job.
  • The second one was they thought that their supervisor thought that they were faking it, they thought their supervisor thought it was an illegitimate injury.
  • And number 3 was claim denial, either the claim was actually denied, or their perception was that the claim was denied, even though it was accepted.

 

 

Poor Communication Main Factor In Litigation

 

Here is what stood out to me the most about each of these factors.  Each of these factors is due to poor communication. And the number that stood out the most was in this fired number.

 

  • Of all the injured workers that they surveyed, 33% responded that they had a fear of being fired. I’m going to say that one more time, of all the employees that were surveyed, 33% responded that they had a fear of being fired just because they were injured on the job. An extremely huge red flag about poor communication with these employees.
  • The rest of that study just to round that out, was that 48% of employees that actually hired an attorney responded that they had that fear.

 

 

Face-Face Weekly Meetings

 

So, how do we improve upon this, how do we improve upon these number, how do we improve upon this lack of communication? We talked about the importance and the value of those face-face connections this holiday season.  That same theory applies with your injured workers, with your employees.  Having face-face weekly meetings with employees that are injured is an extremely powerful and valuable technique to really make those connections to communicate, to be able to eliminate these fears of being fired, be able to increase your communication and understanding of what’s going on with this claim. If you have some medical information that is really the reason why the claim is denied, you can really make that connection.

 

 

Demonstrate Care

So, here is what you are going to be talking about in these meetings.  You are going to be demonstrating care, you are going to be demonstrating care just by having the meeting at your job site.  If the employee is continuing to show up at the job site, their fear of being fired should virtually go away.

 

 

Medical Information

You are also going to be getting medical information, you are going to be talking with them about how the medical is going, how the PT is going, maybe how their relationship with their nurse case manager is going.  You are getting that medical information to make sure that injury is continuing to heal, progress, and recover.

 

 

Transitional Duty

The next thing you are going to be talking about is their transitional duty job, how is that continuing to improve.  You want to make sure that job is progressive.  Based on this medical, if they can only start out with at 10 lb weight limitation, maybe the medical is improving, you increase that to 15, you increase it to 20, you increase it to 30 lbs, so that transitional duty job continues to progress.

 

 

Employee Attitude

And the final thing you are going to be reviewing in these meetings is the attitude of the employee.  Are they cooperative, are they combative, is there frustration, is there fear, is there anger, or are they happy with how things are going.

 

 

Hugely valuable time to make that face-face connection, to deepen those relationships, to eliminate these factors that go into why an employee would hire an attorney.  Remember, in workers’ comp, your success is based on your integrity.  Be great!

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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

 

How Tony Robbins Can Improve Your Work Comp Claims

Problem:

 

Employees with a poor work ethics or performance records can be an extra cost and burden on the workers compensation system when they have an on job injury. This type of employee usually lacks natural tendency, parental training, public educational influence, possible religious guidance, self-motivation, habit forming skills, as well as other personal abilities for self-improve.

 

Unmotivated employees can exaggerate their injury, become non-compliant in medical treatment, malinger, add non related medical pathologies, as well as outright lie and even commit fraud.

 

Today’s social entitlement attitude, weak criminal-judicial system, as well as the societal overlooking or acceptances of such practices seem to make any relief from this problem almost insurmountable.

 

It is a tough job to change personal behavior.  However, there are opportunities and suggested programs that can work.

 

 

Planning:

 

Begin with a plan. This will be a motivational program (just like those created by the great Tony Robbins); therefore the action plan must be doable, simple, yet comprehensive enough to accomplish the goals of improvement and change.  Much of the weak work ethic is driven by personal habit, mental attitude, and personality.  Occasionally a physical condition may influence the poor behavior.

 

Every human being is different and will respond to various motivational stimuli.   Therefore, the program must allow for various changes in approach and implementation.  For example: John may just accept a verbal suggestion to incorporate a change in his behavior.  On the other hand, Pete may need a reward or discipline before incorporating the change of behavior.

 

 

Gather Facts and Data:

 

Take time to study each problem employee on an individual basis as they are working. This should be done in such a manner so as not to arouse the employee’s angst or suspicion.

 

Watch their attitudes as they perform their job function.  Observe their interface with fellow employees.  Listen to how they discuss home environments.  Watch body language for negativity.   This may require the assistance of professional counselors.  It will be necessary to have an existing profile on the employee before beginning the implementation phase.

 

 

Implementation:

 

Once the employee profile is developed, obtain professional counselor ideas or suggestions as to how best approach and start working with the individual.  Be friendly. Advise the employee that the program is meant for their sole benefit. Give all suggestions and instructions in clear manner.  Be sure the employee understands what is expected.  Reinforce by adding that the expected results will also improve personal life activity as well.

 

Keep sessions short and limit times for instruction or training.  Even if professional counselling is used do not allow it to overburden or overwhelm the employee.  Interface on a friendly manner with the employee as much and as often as necessary.  Reassurance is as necessary as the program itself.

 

 

Follow Through:

 

Congratulate every positive progress point the employee reaches.  Give rewards, privileges, extra appreciation comments, or any other provision that will help boost the employee’s morale. This assures continued improvement and should limit any backsliding.

 

Consider the merits of doing these things publically.  This could have a positive impact on fellow employees and raise their esteem for the treating employee. It might also bond the unit together as a team.  Further the other employees will get to see that the employer cares about them as well.

 

Since this is a comprehensive issue with complex potential it is recommended professional behavioral experts be utilized in the development for this behavioral modification.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Poor work ethics and performance issues can adversely impact workers compensation programs and add excessive cost.  They also impact day to day operation, limit production, cause employee morale issues and may develop hostile workplace environments.

 

These issues delve into employee personal traits.  They are a challenge for employers to develop delicate improvement programs.  However, successful programs can lead to better employer employee relationships.  Increased production and fewer workers’ compensation claims could also be a fringe benefit.

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, 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.  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.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

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

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol and Workers Compensation

Alcohol abuse in the workplace has long been a contention for denial of workers compensation benefits.  However, while most jurisdictions have either legislated or set precedence for these declinations, it is still the employer’s burden to prove the injury was solely caused by alcohol intoxication.  In addition,the employer must have a low to zero tolerance in their job site alcohol policies, and the employer must furnish proof for enforcement of the alcohol program.

 

Unlike other substance abuse items, alcohol puts one toxic component (ethanol), in the body.  This tends to limit damage for underlying pathologies.  Still, over time alcohol can have pronounced effects on health, life style, and job performance.  Slowness of comprehension and speech, malnutrition, poor job performance, loss of personal hygiene and appearance are to be observed.  Frequent confrontations with fellow and supervisory personnel are often a sign that the employee’s behavior is not normal.  There may be physical deterioration such as weight loss, slower physical responses and judgment issues.   The most commonly known damage occurs in the liver.

 

 

Policy

 

Set guidelines that are legal, clear, comprehensive and enforceable.  Obtain professional assistance in developing the plan.  Include methods of dealing with enforcements, punishments, and confrontation.  It is also a wise idea to have a rehabilitation program as an alternative to termination. A good employee is worth salvaging. Be sure every employee is made aware of the program and obtain their written confirmations.

 

 

Front Line Notice

 

It must be noted that many persons with alcohol abuse issues may easily subdue the outward signs of alcoholism.  This makes it difficult for the employer to realize a problem exists.  It behooves the immediate supervisor in close contact with the employee to observe and document any changes in the employee’s behavior, attitude, or other outward appearances noted above.

 

One sign that the employee may be drinking on the job is a change in personality after arriving on the job.  Dullness to euphoria or vice-versa is often a sure sign. Frequent visits to the restroom or locker room with changes of personality after return are another sign.  Containers with alcohol can be easily hidden under clothing.  Thermos or other liquid holding containers may even be in plain sight.

 

 

Approach

 

Great care needs to be taken in confronting the employee for an alcohol situation.  Any case controverted by the employer needs proper preparation for defense.

 

Begin by careful and complete documenting of events, situations and observances by supervisory persons.  Make note of fellow employee complaints (these should come from the employee and not solicited by the supervisor).  However, once the offending employee is challenged it may be necessary to obtain statements form these employees to act as witnesses.

 

Obtaining a medical physical examination must be considered.  The doctor will also serve as an expert witness to confirm the alcohol problem.

 

Be certain that the confrontations and claim denials are done in accordance with the alcohol policy.

 

 

Rehabilitation

 

When the employee is valued enough to merit retention, supply a rehabilitation effort to correct the alcoholic abuses.  Such programs could be relatively inexpensive and done in accordance with local government sponsored rehabilitation programs for substance abuses.  Monitoring the progress is often all that the employer need do.

 

Work with the employee to re-establish a working relationship with fellow employees.  This will also show the fellow employees that the employer has employee best interests at heart.

 

 

Summary

 

Injuries on the job caused by the employee’s alcohol abuse can be successfully defended for declination of benefits.  However, the employer has a heavy burden of proof to have a successful ruling by a workers compensation judge or referee.  Policies for alcohol abuse must be properly established and enforced.  Strong investigation and evidence gathering is mandatory for a successful denial of benefits and medical care.

 

If the employee is valued, vocational and/or medical rehabilitation  might be a contingent for allowing a compensation claim to be absolved.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal 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.

 

©2015 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

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

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

 

Communicate Your Work Comp Program So Employees Use It

Having a great workers’ comp program is meaningless if your employees don’t know about it and use it. To get your employees to know about the program, you have to tell them about it, not just once. After initially delivering the information about your workers’ comp program, you need to reinforce and remind them of its importance. And it is not enough that the employees know about it, they have to be willing and able to use the program you have in place. All necessary information must be readily and easily accessible to all your employees and so familiar to them that they instantly know where to find all necessary information.

 
Make the Message Fit the Environment

 

Design your workers’ comp materials to fit the environment. A printed brochure may work for clerical employees who work at a desk and can put them in a file folder. But will a brochure work for a factory floor worker without file space? Probably not. A brochure handed to that worker will likely end up in the round filing cabinet, i.e. a waste receptacle after being piled somewhere with other papers.

 

Think about where your employees work, take breaks, gather and socialize when thinking about how and where to communicate your workers’ comp messages. The delivery of information must take into consideration the location where the communication is occurring. An auto visor packet might be good in a company vehicle. Wallet cards might be good for employees who go into the field. Signs near water coolers and restrooms are good reinforcers. Lamination of the materials is important where there is the potential for dirt or moisture in an environment that can ruin plain paper.

 
Combine Methods to Maximize Impact

 

Think about how you want to deliver your message. Using a combination of methods may be the best way to continually drive home your messages. For example, you may want to hand out or mail brochures to new employees with an annual update. Then you can also put up posters throughout the work area and in break rooms, give employees wallet or lanyard cards, and put a zippered three-ring mobile folder in all vehicles and toolboxes.

 

Another constant reminder is a sticker label to be put on telephones. This way the name and numbers of who to call when there is an injury or a claim is called in are immediately accessible to those making the calls.

 
Tailor the Message to the Audience

 

Think about your audience when designing your message materials. Do you have non-English speaking workers? Then your materials should also be translated into their first language. Are your employees eighth grade or college graduates? Make sure that your messages are clearly communicated in the simplest language possible. Don’t use several ten-dollar words where one ten-cent one will work. Your materials for your supervisors and upper management can be more in depth than is needed for your line workers. Also, the materials in your employee handbooks and safety plans can have much more detail than is needed in your program posters and wallet cards.

 
Make the Messages Easy to Read

 

Are your materials well lit and in big and dark enough font to be easily readable? As any middle aged worker in desperate need of reading glasses will tell you, they cannot see the same font size in a lighter color or that is against a non-contrasting background. Test their readability before their final printing. A clearly worded message won’t be read by employees who can’t easily see it.

 

 

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@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/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

Case Study: How an International Media Giant Reduced Workers’ Compensation Costs

A worldwide publishing business employing 30,000 employees in diverse positions (clerical, reporters, heavy-machine operators, and fleet drivers) was having little success containing workers’ compensation costs, which were rising every year.

 

 

The employer knew they were vulnerable to work comp claims. Back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive stress disorders, slips, trips, falls, and motor vehicle accidents were all common; machinery related accidents resulted in more serious and costly claims for amputation and broken or crushed limbs. Repetitive trauma claims were common among employees such as reporters using computers constantly. Professionals with repetitive trauma syndrome (RTS), fearful of losing their careers, often worked through pain, causing their injuries to become far worse than normal.

 

 

Goal Was To Put The Employer “In Charge Of” The Work Injury Process 

 

The Risk Manager selected our team to help identify their main issues, develop solutions, and create a training program. The goal was to put the employer “in charge of” the work injury process. Once these changes were in place the employer noted improvements with the following:

 

  1. Adjusters learned the program and brokers gained more trust by showing them these resources.
  2. The company reported a 20% reduction in number of claims, and
  3. There was a 30% reduction in workers’ compensation losses in the first year, and in each ongoing year.

 

 

Here’s How They Did It!

 

After surveying their workers’ compensation management practices, the team discovered the company was strong in:

 

  • Hiring Practices: Using background checks, drug testing, and reference checks.
  • Medical Care Coordination: Employing a nurse at the on-site core facility to manage/document injuries; assist in drug testing.

 

 

However, they also identified three areas needing improvement:

 

  • Communication with Employees. (Chapter 7)
  • Reduce Repetitive Injuries. (Chapter 10)
  • Direct Medical Care by improving penetration rate to company PPO network (Chapter 13)

 

The team began by assessing what was currently in place, they then compared their results to industry Best Practices and developed Plan for Action Improvement tailored for the employer’s workplace.

 

 

These areas were revised as described in Chapter 7: Communication with Employees.

 

  • Weekly meetings were scheduled with injured employees. At these meetings, the focus was placed on the return-to-work aspect for the worker, especially setting up a target return-to-work date and assignment of a modified duty job.
  • An experienced technical writer was hired to draft a brochure telling employees what to do when they feel pain — even the very slightest pain. The brochure described how an injury starts when they feel pain; it is then they need to start taking steps such as icing the wrists. Most importantly, they need to do simple exercises such as stretching, and take frequent breaks to avoid injury.
  • Automated computer alerts reminded workers to take a break once an hour and workers were taught mild stretching exercises.

 

 

These areas were revised as described in Chapter 10: Wellness Programs

 

  • The risk assessment team was surprised to learn that repetitive trauma claims (carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis) were common among employees such as reporters using computers constantly. Often, employees work through pain rather than seeking treatment immediately and actually end up worsening their condition, due to their job dedication.
  • A wellness program was instituted to teach workers how to both avoid and treat repetitive trauma. An ergonomic specialist was called in to review the chairs and desks and to teach workers how to sit and what aids to use such as wrist supports at the keyboard, small bench under the feet to give correct alignment to the back, and use of light-weight hand “gloves.” Small packets of ice were kept in nearby refrigerators so employees could apply ice to the problematic areas of hands and wrists. They were taught that often the first symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome is pain at night, and that using wrist supports at night is helpful.

 

 

These areas were revised as described in Chapter 13: Directing Medical Care

 

 

  • The employer started using their third-party administrator’s medical reviewer to review medical records on all claims to be sure the injured employee is being treated appropriately and returns to work as soon as medically able either to full duty or in a transitional duty position.
  • A part-time Medical Director was hired for their on-site clinic to treat workers immediately and to track workplace safety. The Medical Director also makes referrals to other medical services as needed, and supervises the return-to-work process.

 

 

Our training manual discusses all of these techniques and suggests ways to bring workers’ compensation practices into line with industry best practices. 2014 Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers’ Comp Costs: Reduce Costs 20% to 50% (Comprehensive Edition) discusses all of these techniques and suggests ways to bring workers’ compensation practices into line with industry best practices. Many forms and documents are available through Advisen at mbastone@Advisen.com.

 

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@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/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

 

Will I Be Fired Is Biggest Employee Concern In Workers Compensation

In the course of my travels, I talk to many people. Mostly people in the insurance world as you can imagine.

 

Every now and then when I am on location I like to talk to the employees if my partners or employer hosts are not around. This is when you will get the truth about everything at this employer. Some of the common questions I ask are “How bad is the work comp situation here—anyone get any big cases or settlements? Is there a safety team? Do you know what to do if you cut half your hand off in that press while talking to me?”

 

 

Employees’ Most Common Question Is If They’ll Be Fired

 

The last question usually gets their attention. However it is the questions they ask me that make it interesting. The question that I get asked a lot is “How will my bad shoulder (or whatever body part it is) affect getting another job if I get laid off or fired here because I can’t work full duty?”

 

That is an interesting question, and one that has many answers. This question is also one that can send otherwise good people off the deep end of malingering and secondary gain. This malingering, however, does not have to be the case. It all lies in the hands of how the adjuster handles the file combined with the relationship between the employer and employee.

 

 

Employee Answer #1: Do Not Worry If You Can Not Perform Your Job 100% Right Away

 

First of all, if you are worried because you have a heavy duty job and you need to be able to work full duty, don’t worry. You are not going to be full duty overnight. It is going to take some time, and a lot of rehab, but it can be done. You have to do the work, there is no magic pill that will make your shoulder or lower back 100% again. That is if it can even be 100% again, ever. Only time will tell.

 

 

Employee Answer #2: Communicate With Your Employer

 

Second, communicate with your current employer. If it has been a year since your surgery and you are only 75% better, try to work. Make yourself available. The worker still has the responsibility to take their medical slips to their employer each time they see the doctor. This is a good time for a conversation about the future and about light duty work. If you fail to properly communicate with your employer regularly, I could bet you will be terminated. If you are out of sight, you are out of mind.

 

 

Adjusters: Be Sensitive to Employees Real Concerns Regarding Future Income

 

Third, if I am the adjuster and my claimant says “Boy I don’t know if I can ever return to work again, I don’t know what I am going to do” I am immediately calling that employer and forcing him back to work in some capacity within the next 3-5 days. This is because the claimant is at the crossroads of not knowing about future income. If they are unsure about work, they are going to try and stretch that comp case out for all it is worth. If the employer cannot work the claimant, then I am going to place them in a non-profit or some sort of light duty somewhere through a re-employment facility.

 

If you fail to work the claimant in some capacity at this crucial apex then you are going to be in trouble. All of the sudden the pain is back, and worse, and radiating all over the place. Prescriptions are not working. This case is going to plummet into a disaster within 30 days and exposures are going to skyrocket.

 

Any adjuster would just set up an IME at this point. But remember this is for a legitimate, compensable, and complicated injury that you have already accepted. What is your IME going to tell you that the treating doc didn’t already say—that this person can work with restrictions?

 

 

Many Malingering Claims Can Be Solved With Light Duty Work

 

This highlights only a fraction of the reasoning as to why having a light duty job program is so important at every employer. I see tons of malingering claims, just hanging out there. They could be resolved by light duty work. It doesn’t have to be great work or work that pays a lot. It just has to be work. Just providing some work, and a purpose, can be the answer this person was looking for. Plus if they fail to comply now you can stop their wage benefits for non-compliance.

 

The work comp game is all about money and wages to the injured worker. They can deal with the pain, it is the unknown that worries them. These workers are providers for their family. They are going to do whatever it takes to secure income, even if that means stretching a comp case out as far as they can, selling their medications to friends, doctor shopping to get results they desire, retaining counsel, and so on.

 

So when I get asked the question about work comp cases affecting future employment my answer is this: “Why give your employer a reason to terminate you in the first place? If you are doing your job and doing it well, and you show up on time and work hard each and every day, you sound like an asset to this company. Not a liability.”

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@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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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

5 Safety Communication Techniques for a Diverse Workforce

 

Communicating safety issues effectively to a diverse workforce is a challenge. As a risk management consultant for many years, I’ve gathered solid information and experience on the best way to communicate safety and workers’ compensation messages to a large and diverse workforce, including organizations with thousands of employees with diverse backgrounds and many different job descriptions.

 

Before beginning, identify your target audience and the safety message you want to give.  The most important thing an employer must do before implementing any safety communication program is meet with employees and supervisors to discover their ideas on what needs to be communicated and how best to do it.

 

 

Five Safety Communication Techniques

 

First:

Identify the specific message you want to communicate. Is the message about getting employees to work more safely around certain equipment? Or is it to provide information on steps to take if they are injured?

 

Second: Identify the skill set and grade level of your audience. A message to upper management on how to improve commitment to a safety program would be presented differently than instructions to first-line employees on how to report an accident. A general rule of thumb for thinking about language levels is to keep in mind that the Wall Street Journal is written at a first-year college level, while the Reader’s Digest is written at a sixth grade reading level.

 

Third:  Consider job functions and how best to get your message across. Some employees might spend most of their work day in an office or one specific area of a plant. Others may spend it working in different areas of the plant or facility. Still others may spend their day driving from location to location. It’s a good idea to tailor your safety message to the types of safety issues more likely to affect those employees and areas of work.

 

Fourth: Identify the languages your employees speak. Don’t assume they will be just English and/or Spanish. There may be other immigrant groups, such as Russian or Vietnamese speaking workers. In addition, there are differences within languages, such as Cuban Spanish and Puerto Rican Spanish. Ask management to survey their workers’ languages and provide all safety messages as appropriate.

 

Fifth: Consider the work environment. If you have a congenial workforce, don’t use a heavy-handed communication style. Save it for a workforce where there may be a lot of discontent and resentment.

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


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

Employer Silence is Root of Many Workers Comp Problems

 

46% of Workers Incorrectly Think Claims Being Contested
 
Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has published a most welcome study into the reasons that workers get compensation lawyers. The most disturbing reason, cited by 46% of workers surveyed, was that they thought their claims had been contested, even though the paperwork had just begun and no decisions had yet been made.
 
People working with claims, any kind of claims, understand that there is an initial lag, ranging from days to months, before an administrative agency becomes active on a claim. An insurance company usually, but certainly not always, is quicker to respond, but “quick” might mean weeks, and a family suddenly without a weekly check and little or no savings will be on the verge of panic.
 
 
Lawyer Should Not Be One Communicating with Worker
 
If they consult a lawyer, they will quickly learn that the resolution is inevitably going to take time. But why must they hear that from a lawyer? Every risk manager or human resources chief could tell them that a lot faster (and cheaper!)
 
But there is something else your personnel can tell a worker who has just filed a comp claim – how to receive information and, if necessary, some form of income continuation. (A lawyer could tell them the same, but many don’t and it isn’t nearly as comforting as hearing it from the employer.)
 
The study mentioned another fact. When an employer is small enough to know everyone in the workplace (say 200 employees or so) comp problems grow more slowly than when the employee has no one in charge who knows them. (Julius Caesar was famed as a military leader because he could address all centurions in his army by their names- over 500. If he could do it, with a bit of effort you can do it with 200.)
 
 
It is Your Responsibility
 
Finally, there is the old problem of “falling between two stools”, meaning that there is always help at hand, but everyone assumes that someone else will provide it. Rather than rely on a disastrous assumption, just reach out and communicate. An employer that stays in continuous touch during the month or two following a reported injury will be the first to learn of a problem, and the first to propose a solution. And somewhere, a lawyer won’t get that first phone call.
 
If a worker (and the spouse!) is aware that the employer will nudge a silent bureaucracy with a call, the comp problems will start small and grow smaller.
 
 
Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100. medsearch7@optonline.net  
 
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.
 

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

Post Injury Procedures: Communication is Key

 

Post injury procedures keep the circle of control between employees, the employer and the doctor. Companies need to have a tight post injury response procedure to keep down workers’ compensation costs. It is important to have a procedure in place to address an injury immediately after and for the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the injury. This is because there must be communication between the employee, the doctor and the employer. Nothing can be left to chance.

 

There should be a contained process so that communication with the employee and the doctor moves in a continuous loop. Without this continuity, the employee and the doctor may become fragmented, breaking off from the employer, with the employee remaining out of work as a result. A tightly controlled post-injury response procedure keeps control of the communication process among the three parties: employee, employer and physician. If communication between these parties is in place, it is much more likely that the employee will return to work in a prudent but timely manner.

 

Do you need help developing your post injury processes? We have consulting and training services available to help you at http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/services/workers-compensation-consulting/#axzz2DKMATXF3. Or, to have a reference guide on hand to consult, see our book at http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/workers-comp-cost-reduction-guide-book/#axzz2DKMATXF3.

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 


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

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