Toronto Public Transit Workers Subject to Random Drug and Alcohol Tests

Public transit workers in Toronto will in the near future be subject to random drug and alcohol testing as the city's transit service was given permission to start testing employees in safety-sensitive positions, according to a report from the Canadian OH&S News.
 
 
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was pushing for random testing to be added to the Fitness for Duty policy because the current policy, which came into effect in 2010, has been ineffective at deterring workplace intoxication, says Brad Ross, director of public communications for the TTC. (WCxKit)
 
 
The current policy allows for workers in safety-sensitive positions – operators, maintenance staff, supervisors and executives – to be tested for alcohol and marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and PCP, using breathalyzers and saliva swabs, when there is a reasonable cause or testing post-incident, post-violation, post-treatment and pre-employment.
 
 
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents the majority of TTC workers, is already challenging the present policy, and random testing will be added to the grievance, commented Ian Fellows, the union's lawyer in the grievance litigation.
 
 
"It's an invasion of our members' privacy. It treats everybody as if they've done something wrong and it requires them to submit to an invasive procedure," says Fellows. "They've got to offer up a sample of their bodily fluid and their DNA. That's contrary to our agreement and we say the [Ontario] Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights."
 
 
While specifics regarding how the program would run have not yet been worked out, Ross notes the TTC would work with a third party to develop a testing protocol and it would be at least a few months before a system would be ready to implement.
 
 
"We need to figure out what percentage of employees we'd need to test on an annual basis, but in theory the way it works is you show up for work and the system tells us it's your turn for random testing," he says.
 
 
The saliva swabs, as opposed to the traditional urinalysis when testing for drugs, only show whether a person was impaired when the swab was taken based on a pass/fail threshold, not if they had used drugs in the past. The swabs would be tested by an outside lab, Ross says. "We're interested in ensuring that when you report for work, you're fit for duty, not what you did two days ago or two weeks ago, for that matter."
 
 
This is not the first time the TTC has tried to introduce random drug and alcohol testing. When it first brought the Fitness for Duty policy to its board of directors in September of 2008, random testing was in the policy, but the board refused to give it the green light. However, the board has changed since the policy was first introduced.
 
 
Ross reports that TTC staff felt the random testing policy was needed and would revisit the proposal at a later date. Ross also dismissed a recent incident, where a TTC bus driver was found with marijuana in his possession after a fatal accident, as the reason for trying to reintroduce random testing.
 
 
"There have been a number of public incidents over the last couple of years that have been cause for great concern, and there have been incidents within the organization that have not been public but are a concern as well," he says.
 
 
The number of incidents involving drugs and alcohol has not decreased since the policy was introduced, Ross added.
 
 
Though the TTC has data comparing the number of incidents from 2006 to 2008 and 2008 to present, they are part of the grievance litigation and are not being released to the public. Hearings began in 2011 and are scheduled throughout 2012.
 
 
Random testing brings the TTC, with its 1.6-million riders a day, more in line with public transit services in the United States, where random testing of all workers in the transportation sector is the law. "We are the third largest transit agency in North America after New York and Mexico City, and we feel that this element of the policy is necessary," Ross noted. (WCxKit)
 
 

Windsor's public transit service is the only one in Canada that has implemented random testing, but only for employees who drive routes that cross into Michigan.


Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
REDUCE WORK COMP 20-50% (book):  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

WCRI Provides Unbiased Research to Industry

Few people realize the workers’ compensation industry is actually 100 years old. It’s one of the most-successful public-private partnerships in U.S. history.
 
 
Since 1983, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has been providing the public with research on WC public policy issues. Based in Cambridge, Mass., the organization includes among its members employers, labor organizers, public and private insurers, health care providers, managed care companies, and state government representatives from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
 
 
Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI executive director, oversees the institute’s studies and analysis that has added ammunition for the reforms to various aspects of the workers' comp system. Prior to working at the institute, he spent seven years conducting research at The Rand Corporation in Washington , D.C., and Santa Monica , Calif. His law degree and Ph.D. in economics is from the University of Michigan.
 
 
LowerWC recently asked Victor for his impressions of the industry. What follows are some of his comments:
 
 
“One of the most important, and troubling, areas for workers’ compensation systems is to find the appropriate ways to use narcotics – and to discourage abuse and diversion. A second critical issue is to find new and innovative ways for help workers return to productive employment,” Victor says.
 
 
To this end, WCRI is conducting several research phases to help find answers for WC narcotic use and return-to-work issues, he says.
 
 
Victor says the latest trends in workers’ compensation also include medical cost management. “Medical costs now represent more than half of workers’ compensation costs in most states. There is increasing focus on pharmaceutical costs and utilization and the payments made to hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers,” he says.
 
 
Further, everyone wants to know how to save the employers money. Victor says, “Most large employers are focused on three legs of the four-legged cost containment table – risk financing, injury prevention, and claim management. The fourth leg is a large opportunity because employers have underinvested in it – improving the ‘rules of the game’ to make the system more effective for workers and more cost effective for employers.”
 
 
He continues, “This requires that employers join together to formulate political positions and strategies and gather available evidence about how a given state system is performing, how it might be improved, and what lessons can be learned from other states.”
 
 
California and Texas are good examples of where employers have taken collective action and costs have fallen significantly, Victor says. One of the chief objectives of the WCRI CompScope benchmarking studies is to help stakeholders and public officials set priorities and debunk myths.
 
 
One important part of this research is an upcoming conference. The WCRI Annual Issues and Research Conference will be Nov. 16-17 in Boston with keynote speaker Peter Barth, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Connecticut. This will be its 28th year.
 
 
The goal there to present new ideas and alternative views, Victor says. “Whether you are managing workers’ compensation claims, involved in strategic planning, concerned with medical costs and utilization, or just looking for a better understanding of workers' compensation – this is the conference for you.”
 
 
All of the sessions highlight the first presentations of the latest research findings from WCRI while drawing upon the diverse perspectives of highly-respected workers’ compensation experts and policymakers from across the country, he says. “Attendees tell us that they value the large attendance because it allows them to leverage their time while at the conference. There are also opportunities to meet and interact with WCRI researchers.”
 
 
“The most important advice I can give remains a secret until the WCRI conference, when I (present) ‘The Elephant in the Room.’ It will highlight some things that are underappreciated, but are likely to shape workers’ compensation systems for the next decade. The future is not always like the past,” Victor says. “Of course, I would like to see your readers attend to stretch their thinking, gain a competitive edge, and network with peers.”
 
 
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 website 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  Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% on cost containment techniques.  www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact

Australia Fire Fighters Say Random Drug Alcohol Testing Invasion of Privacy

 
Firefighters describe Australian State Government’s move to introduce random drug and alcohol testing across the brigade as an unnecessary invasion of personal privacy, according to a report from their union.
 
 
Fire Brigade Employees Union State Secretary Jim Casey said the State Government move was unwarranted, given there is no established problem with drug and alcohol abuse among firefighters. (WCxKit)
 
 
“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest firefighters have a problem with substance abuse and, on that basis, we see this as a gratuitous invasion of personal privacy. Nobody asks Mike Gallacher, the NSW Cabinet or their staffers to submit to random drug and alcohol testing,” Casey said. “StateGovernment ministers make multiple-billion dollar policy and investment decisions all the time. How do we know their judgment is not impaired by substance abuse?” he added.
 
 
Casey went on to say the brigade already has effective drug and alcohol protocols in place that are supported by the union. As he sees it, random drug and alcohol tests represent nothing more than a waste of time and money. (WCxKit)
 
 

Firefighters run into burning buildings every day; they’re highly aware of the need to remain sober while on the job,” Casey added.

 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


REDUCE WORKERS COMP 20-50%:
www.wcmanual.com

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

WCRI Report Says Narcotics Use Varies by State

 
A study from the  Workers Compensation Research Institute’s  (WCRI) report cites narcotic overuse as a major national public health problem. WCRI reports, “Medical treatment guidelines recommend that patients who receive ongoing narcotics prescriptions be actively monitored by the physician using urine tests and given psychological evaluations.”
 
 
According to WCRI study, Interstate Variations in Use of Narcotics, narcotic-prescribing physicians are not monitoring use, abuse, and diversion. The study is based on nonsurgical workers compensation claims with more than seven days missed work and prescribed pain medications.(WCxKit)
 
 
In some states, WCRI found prescribed narcotic use was more likely to turn into a long-term habit. These states are: California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. WCRI looked at 2006 injuries and the subsequent prescriptions through spring of 2008.
 
 
According to the abstract, other findings include:
1.      The amount of narcotics per claim was the highest in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania among the 17 states studied.

2.     
In the other 13 states, there were large differences in the amount of narcotics received by injured workers.

3.     
A higher than typical percentage of claims that received narcotics may signal overuse of narcotics for some states.

4.     
The proportion of nonsurgical cases with narcotics that were identified as longer-term users of narcotics was substantially higher than typical in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas. (WCxKit)

5.     
Few longer-term users of narcotics received the recommended services for monitoring, contrary to medical guideline recommendations.
 
 
For more information, the complete report is available for purchase here.

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Six Types of Employee Screening to Lower Workers Comp Costs

 
There are many adages out there about circumstances just not adding up. Two of my favorites are “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and “Things aren’t always what they seem.”
 
This can be especially important when it comes to new hires for your company. The greatest, most amicable person can walk through your doors and they could be the perfect worker in your mind. They could be experienced, charismatic, professional, and give you the best interview you have ever conducted.(WCxKit)
 
However, there can be issues lurking underneath that can expose your company to workers compensation costs.
 
What your new hire may not have told you:
 
1.      They have had four knee surgeries.
2.      They have been out of work watching TV for six months — or six years for that matter.
3.      They are just lackluster work performers bouncing from one job to the next.
4.      They lack the personality to deal with customers.
 
 
6 Ways Pre-employment Physicals and Background Checks Protect your Company:
1.    Have all applicants complete a pre-employment physical before they can be accepted as new hire.
This should be standard for any position. Whether it is a sedentary desk job, or a job out on the production floor, having a physician do a physical exam on your candidate can save you a lot of aggravation down the road. This potential new hire may carry a lot of baggage medically that could become your responsibility after their first day of work. Physicians can spot surgical scars or other objective findings on exam that this person may not have indicated to you during their interview. Often it is thought that only workers performing heavy tasks should be considered for physicals. However, sedentary jobs can lead to back pain, neck pain, and repetitive injuries that may have been prevented if a physician noticed it during a physical exam before they were accepted as a new hire within your workforce.
 
With the current economy, a significant number of people have been out of work for a very long time. This leads to general de-conditioning, and since they are a new hire they want to work as hard as possible to gain your trust and acceptance. Oftentimes these people out of work that start work again are the first to be injured, since they are physically unable to perform the job at the pace required without injuring themselves. Monitor your loss runs, and if new hires are accountable for the majority of your injuries, then you have identified a problem that needs immediate correcting. It can be corrected by modifying your new hire screening by implementing a physical exam before they are hired and start work.
 
 
2.    Have a detailed job description for your physician to review while performing the physical.
Just saying a worker will spend 90 percent of their time at a desk and 10 percent of their time walking to the printer and back is not a fantastic job description. Consider what goes in to a particular job day after day:
 
1.      Talking on the phone.
2.      Staring at a computer screen.
3.      Reaching for things in a file cabinet.
4.      Bending and squatting.
5.      Reaching overhead.
6.      Frequently lifting 40 pounds or more.
 
Whatever it may be the more detailed you are in your job description the better the doctor can assess your candidate and decide if they can physically do this job on a long-term basis in a safe manner. In the end, nobody knows the jobs within a workplace better than the employer. Additionally, the more detailed and elaborate you are in your job description, the safer your workforce will be because you will be hiring qualified, fit workers that can safely perform their job day after day.
 
 
3.    Make passing a drug screen mandatory for all new hires.
This should go without saying. With prescription drug use on the rise, even though your potential hire looks on the outside to be healthy and responsible, there could be a lot internally that is physically wrong with them. For example, in one claim a worker sustained a back strain. During the interview, he said he did not go to the doctor right away because he had just taken muscle relaxers. Now, how did he get those? Were they his prescription? Does he take them every day? Does he have a prior comp claim that is active with another employer? Does his doctor refill the prescription without actually doing an exam? If this new hire already has some type of injury before even starting at your jobsite, how can you safely protect yourself and your fellow employees from being injured by someone under the influence of narcotics legally or illegally?
 
 
4.    Ask for professional references and call them.
Most job applicants bring a reference sheet with them to the interview. Often these are professional references, but at times, a neighbor or relative could be used. Not that a relative could not be used as a potential reference, but they are not always unbiased? Calling all references should be standard practice in all HR departments. Again, not only to protect the company from making a bad hire, but, since this person will be working in and around all your other employees, you should not put them at risk by hiring an employee who past employers labeled as lazy, unsafe, or unreliable.
 
Make sure the references consist of previous employers – where the employees no longer work. Calling a current employer can be deceptive since they may give a good reference to get rid of a bad employee.
 
 
5.    Have a private investigation firm run a background check on your applicant
Most PI firms have access to an insurance claims database, civil court records, police records, etc. This is especially important if you have workers driving your vehicles. Past traffic violations, DUIs, and other vehicle violations can be very detrimental to your company. By hiring such a person and putting them on the road in your company vehicle, that person is representing you and your company. The risk involved in vehicular accident claims is huge. You should only have workers with the greatest of safety records on the road representing your company. Equal attention should be given to potential new hires with extensive workers compensation histories, including litigation. This shows that they know the comp system, and are not afraid to retain counsel and litigate a claim if need be. Litigation increases your claims expense, and often a settlement will include their resignation from your company anyway, so before they start work for you, make sure they are not a “career claimant” bouncing from job to job looking for a settlement. 

Beware: This is not foolproof: In one situation, a women in Charles Manson’s group did not show up on a criminal background check because the arrest was more than 25 years ago. She had turned state’s evidence and thus had not ever been “convicted” of the crime. The job she was applying for: childcare provider. Yes, this is true. Fortunately, someone in her neighborhood let the company know about her past track record. Hardly the type of person suitable for childcare.
 
 
6. Personality Profiling
Consider personality screening. Not every employee is suitable for every job. Customer service jobs require a pleasant, patient personality, and not everyone fits that mold. Personality profiling evaluates whether the moral compass is pointing the right direction. They check for traits such as entitlement mentality, theft, deception, cheating, dishonestly, drugs, hostility, and propensity to violence. In some situations the lost time rate dropped dramatically when using this type of testing. (WCxKit)
 
 
In conclusion, hiring new employees involves bringing a certain risk to your company. By being attentive and properly screening your new hires before they start work at your company, saves time and headache down the road by keeping the bad employees out, and only having a reliable, safe, productive workforce that is capable of doing their day-to-day jobs in the safest manner possible.
 
 
CHECK WITH LEGAL COUNSEL BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY TYPE OF EMPLOYEE SCREENING. STATE LAWS MAY LIMIT OR PROHIBIT THE TYPE OF TESTING THAT CAN BE DONE IN YOUR JURISDICTION.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
Our WC Book: http://corner.advisen.com/partners_wctoolkit_book.html

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

6 Things Adjusters Wish Their Clients Knew

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When adjusters daydream, their non-work daydreams are like every one else – romance and money. But when they are about work, many dreams are about how much easier life would be if their clients – the employers – knew what they know. If you could see inside the adjuster’s head, here are some of the things the adjusters wish their clients knew:

 

5 Things Adjusters Wish Their Clients Knew:

 

  1. You Hire Too Many Druggies

Workers compensation adjusters know that from 38 to 50 percent of all workers compensation injuries are related to substance abuse, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor. The adjuster’s biggest wish is that their clients had a drug-free workplace program. When employers have a published drug-free workplace program that includes pre-employment drug screens, random drug testing and mandatory drug testing of all employees involved in a work-place accident, the number of work-related injuries drops sharply. Hence, the adjuster daydreams about every employer having a drug-free work place and because of that, having a lot less workers comp claims to work on. (WCxKit)

 

 

  1. Safety saves you Money

One of the first things the work comp adjuster does when a new work comp claim is assigned to him or her is to read the Employer’s First Report of Injury (FROI). The FROI has a section for the employer to describe what happened. When the adjuster reads, “Employee hurt back lifting ________ (fill in the blank),” or, “Employee tripped over ________ (fill in the blank),” or, “Employee was struck by __________ (fill in the blank),” the adjuster recognizes what the employer does not see – the employer’s safety program needs improvement. Lifting, tripping, and being struck by something are all types of accidents that can usually be avoided with an enforced safety program in place. The adjuster wishes the employer knew how many fewer accidents there would be (and how much lower the work comp premium would be) if the employer had an enforced safety program.

 

 

  1. Treat Every Little Injury

Too often, the adjuster gets to handle the mess the employer made when they decided not to report a “minor” injury. The employee may have said he could “tough it out” when he strained his back, twisted his knee, or dropped 200 pounds on his foot. The untreated injury often gets worse before it gets better. Just like the old proverb “a stitch in time saves nine,” timely medical treatment for a small injury can prevent an employee from aggravating the injury and making it more serious. The adjuster wishes employers would send every injured employee immediately to the doctor (and while the employee is being treated, get the drug test done as there is often an alternative motive for “toughing it out”).

 

 

  1. Keep in Touch with the Employee

The smart work comp adjuster knows the employee is another human being, and, just like almost every person, the employee wants to know that someone, anyone, cares about the injury that has occurred. The big burly roughneck is not going to think,” My employer is compassionate,” if he never hears from the employer after an accident. What he will think is, “They don’t give a damn (or insert much stronger curse word) about me,” and off he goes to get a lawyer who will listen to him and who will “make sure the employer pays for this.” The adjuster daydreams and wishes that the employer would stay in touch with the employee after an accident, sharply reducing the number of lawyers involved in their claims.

 

 

  1. Keep in Touch with the Adjuster

The adjuster needs to know what the employer knows about the work comp claim. If the employer hears scuttlebutt that the employee’s accident happened at home, or that the employee could return to work but does not want to, or any other information about the claim, the information should be shared with the adjuster. The adjuster’s daydream here is the simple wish the employer would keep the adjuster informed of any developments.

 

 

  1. Modified Duty Saves Money

While physical therapy will assist the employee’s recovery from musculoskeletal injuries, often-light duty work will do the same thing, and is a whole lot cheaper for the employer in the end. When the adjuster calls the employer about the employee returning to work on light duty, and has to deal with a supervisor who is only thinking about what is convenient for the supervisor, the adjuster sighs. When the employer refuses to accommodate light duty, the adjuster wishes the employer knew and understood how much sooner the work comp claim would be over if the employer would put the employee back to work on modified duty. (WCxKit)

 

 

Workers comp adjusters do not daydream or wish the employer knew everything about their jobs, but the adjuster will continue to wish the employers understand how the employer’s action or inaction affects the adjuster’s job. If you want the adjuster to feel yours is a wonderful company, heed the ideas expressed above.

 


Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 

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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 or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

 

Ohio Drug Free Safety Program to Lower Workers Compensation Premiums

Ohio is the largest monopolistic state. All employers, who are not self-insured, must purchase their workers compensation coverage from the state. As the State of Ohio is acting as the insurance company for most Ohio employers, it is in the best interest of both the State of Ohio and the employers to have the least number of workers compensation claims possible. To achieve this goal, the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) offers a Drug-Free Safety Program.
 
 
Availability:
The Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP) provides a premium discount to private employers and governmental employers other than state agencies who implement the BWCs Drug Free Safety Program. (Employers who implement their own drug free program and not the BWCs DFSP do not receive the BWCs premium discount). The DFSP focus is the prevention of the use of alcohol and drugs while on the job. The intent of the DFSP is to incorporate the employers drug abuse prevention program into the safety program, resulting in both a safer work environment and work comp claim reduction. (WCxKit)
 
 
Eligibility:
To be eligible to participate in the DFSP, the employer must:
Be in good standing with the BWC at the time of the application
Be current in the payment of their work comp insurance premiums [however, the BWC defines “current” as not more than 45 days past due in the payment of premiums, assessments, retrospective rating adjustments, and penalties]
Not allowed all lapses in work comp coverage to exceed 40 days combined in the 12 months prior to the initial application, or any subsequent renewal or the DFSP
Continue to meet all requirements for participation in the program
 
 
Levels of Participation:
There are two program levels that the employer can participate in, the Basic level and the Advanced level. The requirements for the Advanced level are more stringent and require greater participation by the employer.   The Basic level offers a premium discount of 4%, while the Advanced level offers a premium discount of 7%.   [Group experience rated employers receive a 3% discount and only if they are in the Advanced level of participation].
 
 
Requirements:
The DFSP requirements for both the Basic level and the Advanced level include;
 
1.      Accident analysis training within 30 days of the start of the program year or within 60 days for employees becoming a new supervisor
2.      Online accident reporting of all work comp claims
3.      Workplace safety review within 30 days of the start of the program year
4.      An annual report
5.      Safety Action Plan within 60 days of the start of the program year (optional for the Basic level)
6.      Written drug-free program policy outlining the details of the drug-free program
7.      Employee education – one hour of initial training when hired and one-hour refresher each year
8.      Supervisor training – two hours of initial training and one-hour refresher each year
9.      Drug & alcohol testing required of 100% of all pre-employment/new hires, reasonable suspicion testing, post-accident testing, return to duty testing, and follow up testing. The Advanced level also requires 15 percent random drug testing
10.An employee assistance program
 
 
Disallowance of Work Comp Claims:
Ohio law allows for the denial of workers compensation to employees who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of their injury. The employee has the burden of proving the proximate cause of their injury was not the use of alcohol or drugs in order to have their claim consider. 
Examples of how this works:
 
1.      The employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and falls off scaffolding resulting in injuries. The work comp claim is denied.
 
2.      The employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the scaffolding breaks resulting in injuries, the work comp claim would be accepted (assuming the scaffolding did not break due to improper assembly while the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol). (WCxKit)
 
 
Application:
For Ohio employers to apply for the premium reduction, the employer must indicate their desire to do so by completing the Application for Drug-Free Safety Program (U-140) [obtain a copy from the BWC website] and submitting it to the BWC. The employer must indicate whether they want to participate in the Basic or Advanced level of the DFSP.   There are two program years. The first program year is from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 which is open to all employers.    The Application for the DFSP must be submitted by last business day of October.   The second program year, which is open to only private employers, is from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. The application for the second program year must be submitted by the last business day of April.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Eligible for Workers Comp Despite Smoking Pot

The Montana Supreme Court has thrown its backing behind a Workers Compensation Court ruling that a man who was mauled while feeding the bears at a tourist attraction is eligible for workers comp coverage.
 
 
According to the Associated Press, Brock Hopkins filed a claim with the Uninsured Employers Fund, which denied it due to the fact Hopkins had smoked marijuana prior to entering a bear enclosure at Great Bear Adventures near West Glacier on Nov. 2, 2007. (WCxKit)
 
 
Park owner Russell Kilpatrick claimed that Hopkins was a volunteer and fed the bears after Kilpatrick informed him not to.
 
 
The Workers Compensation Court stated Hopkins was an employee and claimed there was no evidence that impairment from smoking marijuana led to the mauling.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Drug Free Workplace Work Comp Premium Reduction in Some States

Some employers do not know they can reduce their workers compensation insurance premiums by having a drug-free workplace program. While the employer will realize that a drug-free workplace will reduce the number of accidents that occur on the job, the employer often misses another cost savings of a drug-free workplace – a reduction in their workers compensation insurance premium.
 
 
In Georgia, if the employer gets their drug-free workplace program certified by the Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation, they receive a seven and one-half percent (7.5%) reduction of their workers compensation premium. If the employer submits a copy of their certificate of a drug-free workplace each year to their workers compensation insurance carrier, they continue to get the 7.5% reduction in their total work comp premium.
 
 
Self-insured employers in Georgia can also get in on the savings. The self-insured employer submits a copy of their drug-free workplace program certificate with their annual payroll report. The self-insured employer can reduce the amount of money they set aside for “premiums” which in turn will reduce the amount of company is annually assessed by the Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation.
 
 
The state statutes in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington State all have provisions for a five percent (5%) discount on workers compensation premiums for having a drug-free workplace. Some of these states require an annual certificate like Georgia, so check with the state department that administers workers compensation in your state.
 
 

Ohio, the largest of the four remaining monopolistic states (states where the state government is the sole provider of workers' compensation insurance), has a state sponsored program “Drug-Free Safety Program”.   The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has a tier program where employers participating in their Basic level safety program receiving a four percent premium discount and employers participating in their Advanced level safety program receiving a seven percent premium discount.  Group experienced rated employers can receive a three percent premium discount for participating in the Advanced level safety program.

 
 
In Hawaii, employers who provide both a health program and a safety program which includes a drug-free workplace policy also receive a five percent (5%) insurance premium discount. (The difference between Hawaii and the other 5% discount states listed above is you have to have both a safety program and a health program to get the 5% discount).
 
 
The state statute in Idaho does not specify the amount of premium reduction the employer will receive for a drug-free workplace. Their law states that the employer who provides drug and alcohol testing of all prospective employees and current employees shall qualify for a workers compensation premium reduction.
 
 
What if you do not live in the states discussed above? You may still get an insurance premium reduction for having a drug-free workplace.   Some workers compensation insurers offer voluntary premium reductions for having a drug-free workplace program. The requirements and qualifications for a voluntary premium reduction by the insurer vary from insurance company to insurance company.   Ask your broker what premium reduction you might receive from your workers compensation insurer for having a drug-free workplace program. Find out what the requirements of your work comp insurance company are to receive a voluntary premium reduction.
 
Note: While talking to the broker, also ask about any premium reduction for having a certified safety program – you should work to get all the work comp premium discounts you can get.
 
 
The five percent premium reduction (7.5% in Georgia, up to 7% in Ohio) is not the only savings your company will get from having a drug-free workplace program. Other  benefits include:
 
 
1.     A significant reduction in the number of workplace accidents follows the introduction of a drug-free workplace program. The reduction in the number of workplace accidents leads to a reduction in the work comp premium based on your accident history.
2.     Employers who have a drug-free workplace program have less absenteeism.
3.     A drug-free workplace program also leads to an increase in productivity. (WCxKit)
4.     Approximately 40 states allow the insurance company to deny work comp benefits to an employee who test positive for drugs or alcohol following an accident. You need to have a drug-free workplace program in place in order to test them employees following an accident.
 
 
A drug-free workplace program makes financial sense even without consideration for the reduction in workers comp insurance premiums. When you add the reduction in premiums from having the drug-free workplace program to the reduction in premiums from having fewer workplace accidents after the drug-free program is started, the drug-free workplace is the way to go.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website 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.  See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/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 or agent about workers comp issues.

© 2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com. Rewriting, recasting, revising or reformmating this article no matter how extensive is copyright infringement for which we will take legal action.

Know the Basic Types of Drug Testing

Most employers understand the importance of drug testing to prevent both workers compensation accidents and accidents that damage property. When an employee has a work related accident resulting in injury, a drug test should be a part of the immediate medical care. The reasons and the importance of drug testing are easy to understand. The types of drug test and how they are administered is more technical. 
 
 
A drug test involves taking a biological specimen and having it analyzed for the presence or absence of specific drugs or their metabolites (the products of metabolism). The biological specimen can be urine, blood, hair, saliva or even sweat. (WCxKit)
 
 
The most common drug test is the urine drug screen. This typically involves collecting a urine specimen in a cup specifically designed for this purpose. The cup comes with a cap that seals and the cap is taped down with tamper resistant tape. A label with the either the employee's name or a unique number assigned to the employee is used to identify from whom the specimen was obtained. The urine specimen is delivered to the laboratory where it is screened for drugs.
 
 
At the laboratory, the most common drug screen is the one required by the federal government for commercial class drivers licenses. It is referred to as the SAMHSA 5 panel. (SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The five substances tested for are:
 
1.     Cannabinoides (marijuana, hash)
2.     Cocaine (cocaine, crack, benzoylecognine)
3.     Amphetamines (amphetamines, methamphetamines, speed)
4.     Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
5.     Phencyclidine (PCP)
 
 
To perform the testing, the specimen is split into half. The first half goes into an analyzer that measures the presence or concentration of a substance in the urine. If the test shows the presence of a drug, the second half of the urine is test using a gas chromatography method (which means they separate the urine into the various substances within it). The test results are then reviewed by a physician for confirmation of the results. If the test results are negative, the employer is advised the drug test was negative. If the test results are positive, the employee is contacted to see if there is any valid reason for the test result to be positive – for instance a prescription drug.
 
 
A drug test that is more accurate than the testing of urine is a blood test. The blood sample is drawn from the employee, labeled and sent to the laboratory where it is placed in centrifuge where the blood plasma and blood cells are separated. The plasma is then tested for the presence of illicit drugs. Blood testing is not commonly used as the collection method is considered more intrusive and it is most expensive method of drug testing. However, it is considered the most accurate drug test.
 
 
In the last decade the use of hair in laboratory test for the detection of illicit drugs has developed into a reliable forensic toxicology method that has been approved by the courts. Once ingested, cannainoids, cocaine, amphetamines and opiates are metabolized by the body. Their breakdown products enter the hair root where they are deposited and remain until the hair grows out and is cut off or the hair falls out. Except for the abuse of alcohol, hair is considered a very reliable indicator of illicit drug use up to 90 days after the drug was ingested.
 
 
As most illicit drug users know the urine test and blood test are accurate for only recent use of the illicit drugs, they will often try to delay their drug testing until their body has had an opportunity to eliminate the drugs. Time is not the only factor that determines whether or not the drug test will reflect recent use of an illicit drug. Factors that impact the drug testing include the type of drug used, the body mass, the metabolic rate, the age of the user, the overall health of the user, the amount and frequency of use, and with urine drug test – the urine pH.
 
 
A urine drug test has a longer detection window of time then a blood test. Urine test are accurate for cannabis for a minimum of 3 days and up to 7 days, but up to 30 days for heavy users or users with high body fat. Urine test are accurate for cocaine for a minimum of 2 days and up to 5 days. Urine test are accurate for amphetamines for a minimum of 1 day and up to 5 days (except for methamphetamine, it is accurate for 3 to 15 days). Urine tests are accurate for codeine for 2 to 3 days, heroin 3 to 4 days and for PCP for 3 to 7 days for a single use, but up to 30 days for chronic users of PCP. (WCxKit)
 
 
According to the Tennessee Department of Labor, thirty-eight to fifty percent of all workers compensation claims are related to substance abuse. How the illicit use of drugs will impact the work comp claim varies tremendously from state to state. In approximately 40 states the employee's workers compensation benefits can be denied or reduced for being under the influence of drugs at the time of accident.  

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website 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.  See www.LowerWC.com . Contact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com .

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/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 or agent about workers comp issues.

©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact
Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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