Proven 5 Step System to Master WC Costs Plus Bonus Avoiding Litigation and Using IMEs Training

 

 

Learn More: 2018 Version – Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers’ Comp Costs

 

Now there are many things in our world today that we just can’t seem to figure out. Some of the most advanced medical treatments, the greatest challenges our country is currently facing, as well as when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone. They just can’t seem to look up from their phone. I can never seem to figure that one out. But while those things are going to continue to be a challenge, there is no mystery in how to drastically reduce worker’s compensation costs and create significantly better outcomes for the injured workers, creating truly a best case scenario for the employer and the employee. In this proven five-step system, this process, these strategies, these tactics, as well as the sequence of how to implement them has been documented in detail in the 2018 version of Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Worker’s Comp Costs.

 

 

No Mystery in How to Control Workers’ Comp Costs

 

Hello, my name is Michael Stack. I’m the CEO of Amaxx and also the co-author of this comprehensive manual. Now the system, these strategies, these tactics, the sequence was created out of my business partner and co-author’s almost 30-year career in worker’s compensation, implementing this system at some of the largest and recognizable companies in the country. Hundreds of organizations realizing those exact results of drastically reduced costs, significantly better outcomes for their injured workers. This manual was created out of my almost 10-year career in working with Becky and continuing to refine this system and improve it and create more efficiencies and making it more effective. And new just this year out of our medical advisor, Dr. Jacob Lazarovic’s almost 20-year career as Chief Medical Officer at Broadspire, one of the world’s leading third-party administrators. And I can confidently state to you that there is no better source, no more complete source, no more easy to understand source of how to create those outcomes of drastically reduced costs, significantly better outcomes for the injured workers than exists in this 2018 version.

 

What I want to do today is I want to give you an overview of those five steps, and then I’m going to teach a little lesson about the information and some of the updates that I did in this latest version. Because the last thing that you need is more information. The last thing you need is another book to sit on the shelf. Where this information becomes valuable is when you actually use it, when you learn it, when you implement it. I want to give you a little preview of that today covering two of some of the biggest pain points that employers often will face in worker’s compensation, which is how to avoid litigation and then how to best utilize the independent medical exam for controlling medical costs.

 

 

Proven 5 Step System to Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs

 

Let’s do a real quick overview of these five steps. Now again, this is a sequence. This is a process and this is a system so each one of these steps is going to build upon itself, and the better that you do at step number one is the better that you’ll do at step number four and five.

 

Step 1: Build Program Foundation

Step number one is to build your program foundation. This includes creating who are these people that are going to be responsible at the employer site? What are their rules? What are their responsibilities? What are the basics of worker’s comp? What is the experience mod? How does that all kind of come together? That’s building that program foundation.

 

Step 2: Injury Prevention

Injury prevention them. That’s safety and that’s wellness. The least expensive work comp claim is certainly the work comp claim that never happens. That’s what goes into that injury prevention chapter and section within the book.

 

Step 3: Post-Injury Systems

Post-injury systems. Now this is the bread and butter. This is the engine that’s going to drive those results. This is the area where companies get realized drastic results very quickly because this is post-injury response, this is return to work, this is communication, this is the foundation of the entire process, and if a company can get these elements correct, they’re going to realize significant results very quickly and this could create those reduced costs and create those better outcomes.

 

Step 4: Claims Management Best Practices /  Step 5: Control Medical & Pharmacy Costs

Now if this post-injury system step number three is the engine, then steps number four and five is a higher-octane gasoline that gets poured into that engine because this is leveraging your claims management partners. This is leveraging your vendors. This is leveraging the service providers, your medical providers, your pharmacy benefits management company. And how do you put that all together to help this all work in a very consistent system that runs like a top creating these better outcomes at a significantly reduced cost? That’s what we cover in detail in this comprehensive manual.

 

 

How to Avoid Litigation

 

What I want to do now is I’m going to erase this board and we can dive into some of these tactics, the avoiding litigation and using IMEs. Let’s dive into this topic of avoiding litigation. In the manual itself, we go into much greater detail referencing studies from the work comp research institute, as well as from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute. We have input from a plaintiff attorney and defense attorney in talking about this entire process. But I want you to lock in with me here because this one concept of why injured workers hire attorneys, and avoiding litigation is extraordinarily simple and it comes down to one word, which is fear. The number one reason and the main driver for why injured workers hire attorneys is fear, the fear of the unknown.

 

And if you could lock in on this concept, understand this concept, have empathy for this concept of putting yourself in the shoes of the injured worker and looking at it from their perspective, then you’re going to be well on your way to this process of mastering worker’s compensation. You’re going to be almost halfway there if you understand the why, then the how to avoid that, the how to improve upon it becomes significantly easier. And all you have to do then if follow the steps of the how that’s documented in the manual itself.

 

Let’s talk about how you alleviate this fear, and there’s a couple of different things that the injured employees really want to know, and all you have to do is communicate these couple things. One, how am I going to get paid? Two, who’s going to handle my medical and how is that all going to work? Am I going to have to pay a deductible and what doctor am I going to see and am I going to be able to recover? And the last thing, and this is probably one of the most significant, is work. Am I going to be able to continue to work? Am I going to lose my job? Does anyone even want me back at work, and does anyone even care that I got injured? If you could put yourself in these shoes, if you could answer these questions, if you could communicate the answers to these questions for your injured workers, for your employees, you are significantly far down the path to mastering worker’s compensation.

 

Worker’s comp can be very complex. There’s a lot of layers to it. There’s a lot of different stakeholders involved, but at its core, it’s extraordinarily simple of meeting these basic needs and alleviating this fear within your injured workers. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Your expectation of them is high. You’re running a high integrity program. You’re going to do your best to communicate. Do your best to get them back to work, do your best to set the expectations. Hold up your end of the bargain, and expect them to do the same. And when they don’t, there’s that hard line of integrity that you’re going to then move to potentially deny that claim, move to litigation, prove fraud, etc., etc. We cover a lot of that in the book as well.

 

 

Realize Significant Savings on IMEs

 

So the next thing I want to cover now is the IME process. Let’s talk about the IME, the independent medical exam. This is a vital tactic in medical cost containment best practices. But what we find is that it’s also a significant area of opportunity to create these lower costs and drive these better outcomes because it’s often utilized in the wrong scenarios. IME is a vital piece of medical cost containment, but it also takes a long time for it to be scheduled. It takes a long time for the doctor to generate the report and the injured employee actually has to physically go to the physician’s office. A peer review on the other hand is significantly faster. This is done by a peer review physician at your managed care company. It’s significantly less expensive and can be done often within just a couple of days versus multiple weeks for the IME. Two vital pieces of medical cost containment when they’re used at the right time, so I want to talk about when that is.

 

Peer Review vs. IME

Let’s talk about peer reviews and when we should be using these. First, if there’s a question of causation. You’re going to have a peer review physician review that information. Next is if you’re finding that you’re not sure whether or not that injured employee can get back to transitional duty, can get back to work, and there’s a little bit of a discrepancy there and you need that medical opinion, peer review is a fantastic solution for that. Along those same lines, if the duration of the injury falls outside of the injury duration guidelines in evidence-based medicine, and you need that medical opinion in order to determine what to do because the adjuster’s not a medical doctor. They’re not medically trained. The employer is not medically trained, and you can’t make that determination of what is appropriate in that scenario. Tremendous option to leverage a peer review.

 

And the final thing is if you just need a medical opinion on really any other issues within the case. Again, every claim that happens in worker’s compensation needs medical attention to some degree, whether it’s very minor or significant, and many times you need that medical expertise in order to help you make a proper decision on what to do with that claim. So all tremendous times to leverage this peer review option which again is significantly faster and significantly less expensive. Again, IME though is a very vital piece. It’s a vital tactic in medical cost containment when it’s used at the right time.

 

Let’s talk about these times when that’s needed. If there’s advanced issues in the claim that can’t be handled with a simple peer review, tremendous time for an IME to be leveraged. If you need a formal impairment rating on a case. If it’s going to settlement and you need a formal impairment rating, tremendous time to use an IME. If there’s a legal that’s going to be coming down the pipe and you need that doctor, and then sometimes it’s required by the state law, by the state worker’s compensation boards. So both tremendous tactics. It’s just a matter of deploying them in the right scenarios to drive down those costs and create those better outcomes.

 

I hope you’ve been able to learn some information on these just real quick sessions that I did in avoiding litigation and then on the IMEs. The key to this entire system, to this entire process, of all the information that’s documented in this comprehensive manual is taking it and implementing it, and when you do that, when you implement this information, when you learn it and you take it one step at a time, you will realize exceptional results.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 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.

WCRI Preview: Future Trends and How Medical Care Affects Outcomes

It’s fourth and goal from the one-yard line in the closing seconds of the first half of Superbowl 52. Without hesitation, the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Doug Peterson sends his team back in to go for the touchdown rather than kick the conservative field goal. They direct stack the ball to the running back. He tosses an easy lob to quarterback Nick Foles, who waltzes into the end zone for the score.

 

Of course, the Eagles went on to win that very entertaining and exciting Superbowl 52, which in my opinion, was defined by that one play.

 

Hello, I’m Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx, and while Justin Timberlake is not going to be coming to perform at any of our national conferences or daily activities, it doesn’t mean that we need to be any less prepared. One of the ways that I like to prepare when we’re creating strategies, policies, procedures, implementing systems of work comp management to create the best outcomes is by leveraging the research done by the work comp research institute.

 

 

WCRI Annual Issues Preview: Future Trends

 

What I want to do today is give you a little preview of the upcoming WCRI annual issues conference, so that we can know as individuals as well as an industry as a whole how to best be prepared for what’s coming down the pike. So, let’s talk about some of these sessions, and really, in the reviewing of the content that I’ll be covering, there’s really two major themes. The first is these future trends, and what’s next coming down the pike in workers compensation. They’re leading off the session with one that I feel is going to be very interesting, which is the future labor force trends and the impact of technology presented by Dr. Erica Groshen, who was the former head of the bureau of labor statistics.

 

Now, if you’ve ever been on the BLS website, and you’ve ever looked anything up, you know that it’s very rich in data. Personally, I often find it very valuable, but often very overwhelming at times as well. So, I’m looking forward to this session to listen to Dr. Groshen break down some of this data. Tell us some of these meanings. Have us able to understand some of these important metrics that are key for us to follow. So, that’s gonna be a tremendous session which I’m looking forward to as they start today.

 

WCRI then continues on this future theme with Dr. Rick Victor returning to the stage talking about workers compensation in 2030, and then wrapping up on the second day with “The World of Work is Changing Fast. Are You Prepared?” This will be a panel discussion from various experts within our industry talking about these future trends and their implications.

 

Again, allowing us to prepare as individuals as well as an industry, so when that opportunity arises, we can execute flawlessly.

 

 

WCRI Annual Issues Preview: Medical Care Impact on Outcomes

 

Now, the second major theme of the conference centers around medical care and its impact on outcomes. There are four sessions that will fall under this general umbrella theme. The first is on value-based care, and if we’re ready for that as an industry, completely different outlook and perspective on how we’ll go about from a system of medical management and delivery and if we can integrate that successfully into our industry.

 

Next, talking about the impact of fee schedules on the access to care and what that does to drive worker outcomes, and finally, two drug-related topics. The impact of opioids and prescription drugs on the workplace, as well as on the second day, “Does Marijuana Shift Prescription Drug Spending?” Both very critical and hot topic, particularly in today’s times. What we know is that medical management, medical costs, medical complexity only continue to increase. So, if we can be more prepared, we can understand these systems, understand these policies, understand these procedures, in order to drive better outcomes for the injured workers which, oh, by the way, cost the least amount of money. It’s truly a win-win scenario in our industry if we can get those two things right.

 

So, it’s gonna be a tremendous conference. I’m very much looking forward to it, and I look forward to seeing you there.

 

 

Additional Information WCRI Annual Issues Conference: https://conference.wcrinet.org/

 

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 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.

4 Steps for Risk Managers to Support CFO in Broader Risk Initiative

4 steps for Risk manger to support CFO in broader risk initiativeMost Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) initiatives originate from the CFO. In most organizations, the CFO is most qualified, most responsible and most required to update the executive team & board on organizational risk. They realize that each part of the organizational risk puzzle is a point of failure that can disrupt revenue streams and there is value in having the structure to identify and deal with the enterprise of risk an organization faces.

 

Forward-thinking Risk Managers take the position that they are the most qualified, responsible and required to support the CFO putting this risk puzzle together.

 

  • They are most qualified because they have experience in risk assessment frameworks; they work across silos and regularly deal with complex risk. In short, dealing with risk is in the Traditional Risk Manager’s DNA.
  • This resume makes them the most responsible to embrace a more comprehensive approach to risk that is robust enough to give a more global risk assessment process a jump start. This can be done by simply piloting & demonstrating how key ERM principles work in their “Business Process Area – Hazard Risk”.
  • To earn the right to be a “Champion” to support the CFO in a broader risk initiative, the Risk Manager is most required to get it right in their area. In short, demonstrate value and make an impact in the hazard risk space.

 

To earn your way to a more strategic role, Risk Managers should select a Landing Spot, Map the Baseline, Be Structured About Improvement and Put Focus on the Overall Design.

 

 

Pick Your Landing

 

Earn credibility by confronting your biggest challenge head on. For most in the hazard risk space, their most complex area is workers’ compensation (WC). The stakes are high, the resources are typically limited and opportunity is significant. This area involves many stakeholders and has many requirements that must all fit together to get it right.

 

  • Take the overwhelming and break it into manageable parts so that logic to structured continuous improvement can take place.
  • The parts of WC are program foundation, injury prevention, post-injury management, claims management, controlling medical, safety culture and team collaboration.

 

 

Map the Baseline

 

One of the most valuable things a risk manager can do is take a step back and define the complex area/landing spot’s current baseline.

 

  • A clearly defined baseline is an essential part of making progress. In fact, no changes should ever take place without a clear understanding of all the current controls in place, processes and how they connect to each other.
  • To the extent you can define your baseline is the extent your stakeholders (internal & external) will be able to support you. A clear baseline not only defines current controls in place that match up with your “root cause” risk but it quantifies & qualifies what is being done so that available time & resources can be allocated to what is most important.
  • Your clearly defined baseline becomes the roadmap for all stakeholders to support you. A baseline should be a living document that is updated as changes take place.

 

 

Be Strategic about Improvement

 

Get your ground game moving. This will open up your progress to some bigger success. The ground game is about focusing on the parts. For each of the parts focus on defining, designing and continuous improvement.

 

  • The “Define” simply means putting focus on what is currently being done, the why to the process and if it is effective.
  • The “Design” is about exploring options and identifying better/more efficient and effective processes.
  • The “Continuous Improvement” is all about making logical and informed decisions and moving targeted areas forward.

 

 

Put Focus on the Overall System Design

 

This is the fun part that allows you to go for the big yardage and the win. It is fun because it forces you to operate as an entrepreneur. If you do not enjoy this part, you have lost your pulse and need to find it.

 

  • Your “Risk Pulse” is your drive to make a difference and to figure out the complexities of the risk puzzle.

 

Every puzzle is solvable and if you have the pulse to take on the challenge, you get to use your creative skills, your design skills and your marketing skills as well as project management and leadership skills as your “Risk System” takes shape in front of your eyes.

 

  • Figuring out the puzzle shows that you are finding time to operate strategically and putting thought and structure into the desired outcome. Like building a complex building, you are defining the specifications, designing to specs and building in structured feedback to make sure there are no missed opportunities.
  • The specifications involve knowing the demographics, resources, obstacles and specifically what you want your risk system to do. This translates into a clear message and pre-frame that ensures the intent of the message is heard loud and clear.
  • The design is all about defining your “ 3 Lines of Defense” and mapping out what is most important with details on how it will be accomplished. Items like roles, obtaining buy-in, accountability and engagement never just happen, they only come with a targeted design to the process.

 

You cannot achieve the desired behaviors/the output of your “Risk System” without a process for feedback. 

 

  • There needs to be both formal and informal processes to capture feedback from your stakeholders. You need to understand how stakeholders are receiving your message and capture opportunities for insight and engagement.

 

By applying core enterprise risk principles to the most challenging part of your hazard program, immediate progress will happen in months and sustainable results will be realized within a year. You will have earned the opportunity to transition your risk platform to a broader risk initiative to support the CFO and organization.

 

 

 

Author Mark Bennett, Founder of Risk Innovation Group (RIG), is dedicated to helping large employers face the complexities of risk through innovative Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) practices. ERM programs don’t just help large employers manage business risks more effectively; a well-developed ERM program can protect and create value as well as improve business performance and generate a strong competitive advantage.  Contact: m.bennett@riskinnovationgroup.com

Avoiding Bad Faith in Workers’ Compensation

Avoiding Bad Faith in Workers' CompensationHandling workers’ compensation claims in an effective manner requires members of the claims management team to be proactive on many issues.  This effort includes understanding issues concerning “bad faith” claims handling and denials.  The appearance of bad faith needs to be avoided at all costs.  Failure to do so can result in costly litigation and loss of reputation.

 

 

What is Bad Faith in Work Comp?

 

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the term “Bad Faith” encompasses “dishonesty of belief or purpose” in a legal action, including matters concerning insurance law.  Examples of this include instances where an employer, insurer, third-party administrator or an attorney acts in a manner that misleads another or enters into an agreement without the intention to fulfill the obligations — or not have the means to fulfill such obligations.  It can also occur when someone acts in a manner to violate the basic standards of honesty when dealing with other individuals or entities.

 

 

Step #1 – Avoid the Appearance of Bad Faith

 

The slightest appearance of bad faith can result in costly legal actions.  Other extraneous costs include loss of goodwill and reputation.  This impact is why members of the claims management team need to act honestly and ethically at all times.

 

Regarding the financial considerations of bad faith ligation, it is important to remember what is at stake as it goes beyond the scope of litigation costs, expenses and settlement of a claim.  Other added costs can include:

 

  • Penalties defined by a workers’ compensation law;

 

  • Punitive damages if the action is successful; and

 

  • Claims for attorney’s fees by the prevailing party.

 

 

Common Missteps that Result in Bad Faith Claims

 

A review of bad faith claims litigation has provided attorneys and members of the claims management team with an extensive list of factors resulting in adverse actions.  Some of the more common themes in bad faith litigation include:

 

  • Poor claims management/handling. This includes failure to communicate with claimants and their attorneys, as well as failing to review the claim file properly.  It is important for teams to review and follow “best practices” constantly.

 

  • Claims investigation and acting in good faith. This duty includes the necessity for a claims handler to be reasonable in their efforts and not ignore information that would result in a claim being compensable.

 

  • Failing to pay attention to statutory timeliness. Every workers’ compensation law has specific timelines for the admission of primary liability, the filing of various forms and payment of claims.  Failure to undertake such activities may result in administrative fines, penalties, and other adverse sanctions.

 

  • Failure to cooperate. Insureds must cooperate in every workers’ compensation claim.  Failure to do so can result in “duty to defend” provisions in a policy to become null and void.

 

 

Implementing Best Practices Now

 

It is never too late to take steps to avoid bad faith claims against you, your claims team or insured.  Here are some ideas one can implement to avoid the unnecessary expenses associated with bad faith claims litigation:

 

 

  • Begin with proactive claims investigation. Be reasonable and complete the investigation on time.  All denials must be made in good faith and supported by the facts and the law;

 

  • Develop a relationship with employer/insureds. Breaking down barriers early on in the process allows claim management teams to avoid issues in the future;

 

  • Know and timely respond to all statutory deadlines. This prevents accusations of bad faith claims and needless fines, penalties and other sanctions;

 

  • Promptly pay claims when due. Defense attorneys can take steps to prevent bad faith litigation by communicating with the claims management team as to when a payment is due, to whom the payment is to be made, include their tax ID information and correct mailing address; and

 

  • Document your file contemporaneously. Accurate and complete claims notes and other documentation efforts are key to success.  Encourage new claims handlers to develop this habit early on in their career and remind more seasoned members of the team to continue this process as they advance their career.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Bad faith litigation in workers’ compensation claims can have a significant impact on a program’s bottom line.  It can also have an adverse impact on one’s reputation and other non-monetary matters.  Avoiding bad faith litigation can occur when a team learns from the lessons of the past and implements best practices.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 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.

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 3

 

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 1

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 2

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 3

 

 

Hey, there. Michael Stack here, CEO of AMAXX. We’re about a month out from the conclusion of the National Work Comp and Disability Conference, held again this year in Las Vegas, back at Mandalay Bay.

 

 

Take Away #5: Blending Oversight and Empowerment to Maximize TPA Results.

 

Now, my fifth takeaway comes from a blending of a couple of different presentations at the conference. It comes from the Teddy Award winning presentations, and the risk management that described their programs in order to win those awards, as well as another presentation given by Caryl Russo from Barnabas Health and Carrie Burhenne from the PMA Companies entitled Blending Oversight and Empowerment to Maximize TPA Results.

 

“Don’t Go At It Alone”

 

The takeaway here is very simple. It’s the sentiment of, “Don’t go at it alone.” Don’t go at it alone. Workers’ compensation at its core is very simple, but as you lay around various stakeholders, claims handlers, vendors, biopsychosocial elements, state law reforms, it becomes extremely complex. The idea of don’t go at it alone is the fact that you will not be successful unless you bring on these partners. You develop this claims handling partnership with your TPA or a carrier. You develop these working relationships with your medical providers, with your adjusters, with your risk managers, with your attorneys, and all other stakeholders involved in the idea of creating these better outcomes for your injured workers, thus driving down your workers’ compensation cost.

 

If the Teddy Award winning companies and risk managers references this idea, if Caryl Russo from Barnabas Health who also won a Teddy Award a couple years ago is referencing this idea of not going at it alone, and that’s displayed and implemented in this idea, which Caryl does very well, of weekly meetings. If all of these companies are doing this tactic, working together, developing these partnerships, having this played out in strategy in the form of a weekly meeting, and in this weekly meeting you’re talking about what has happened in the past, what is currently going on in the claim, and what’s the plan going forward. It’s no more complicated than that.

 

Study & Follow Tactics of Best WC Programs

 

Jim Rowan says, “If you want to be happy, study happiness. If you want to be wealthy, study wealth.” If you want to have a successful work comp program, study successful work comp programs, and if all the successful work comp programs are doing this tactic, that’s a tactic you should be doing as well. If you’re not at the point where you’re ready to look at every single claim every single week, that’s fine. That’s not where you start. If you’ve never done this tactic, take one of your claims, take two, take three, take five of your most expensive open claims and look at them on a weekly basis. Bring in your stakeholders. Bring in your medical providers. Bring in your nurse case managers. Bring in the parties that are relevant to those specific claims. Talk about what’s happened in the past, talk about where you are now, and discuss the plan, and share ideas, share perspectives, share expertise in order to create that better outcome.

 

Takeaway number five is, “Don’t go at it alone, and be very intentional about developing those work comp management partner relationships.”

 

 

Education Without Implementation is Entertainment

 

That covers my top five takeaways for the National Work Comp and Disability Conference this past year. It was another tremendous conference with very valuable content and contacts, but as I referenced at the beginning of this session today, it’s not the content or the contacts that you receive at the conference itself, it’s what you do with that content, it’s what you do with those contacts, those business cards that you receive, that makes the most difference. If we’re not going to take the information and implement it, if we’re not going to be following up with those contacts and developing those relationships, and taking advantage of those opportunities, then the time that we just spent in Las Vegas is simply entertainment, and there’s a lot better ways, there’s a lot better shows to go see in Las Vegas than going to listen about workers’ compensation.

 

I encourage you to go back to your notes, develop your own top five takeaways, develop the one or two points that you’re going to implement right away. If you don’t have your own notes, borrow mine, and start to realize and implement to see those results.

 

Thanks again for your attention. My name is Michael Stack, CEO of AMAXX, and remember your work today in workers’ compensation can have a dramatic impact on your company’s bottom line, but it will have a dramatic impact on someone’s life, so be great.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 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.

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 2

 

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 1

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 2

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 3

 

 

Hey, there. Michael Stack here, CEO of Amaxx. We’re about a month out from the conclusion of the National Work Comp and Disability Conference held again this year in Las Vegas back at Mandalay Bay.

 

 

Take Away #3: The Nordstrom Way: Boosting Injured Worker Engagement

 

Now, my third takeaway comes from the keynote presentation of the conference itself which was given by Janine Kral called The Nordstrom Way: Boosting Injured-Worker Engagement. Now, Janine did a tremendous job of describing their program at Nordstrom, the system that they use, their philosophy, as well as the positive outcomes that it has returned for their company.

 

Now, I have about six pages of notes from this one session alone. But, it’s not the system or describing the specific elements of the system that my key takeaway point to pass along. The key takeaway point to pass along is the idea that we all know Nordstrom for the idea of exceptional customer service. She described their handbook as having one rule: use good judgment at all times. We all know when we walk in to Nordstrom the difference between that retailer and another. We know their reputation for company service, customer service. We know their reputation for value. The key takeaway point to pass along isn’t the system that Nordstrom has implemented because I talk about the system and the proven methodologies in nearly every blog or training that I’ve ever done. But, it’s the importance of this key element of a vision, a clear goal, and mission for the company that resonates throughout every level of employees.

 

Now, one of my thoughts when I walked out of this session was tremendous system, fantastic job, Janine, in implementing it, in running it and achieving these results. But, my thought as a member of the audience was that people may look at that and say, “Well, we’re not Nordstrom. We’re not self-insured. We don’t have this tremendous culture of this idea of customer service. Our employee handbook is 300 pages thick. It doesn’t just say, ‘Use good judgment at all times.’ How can I possibly be successful? Great job for you but how can that even help me at all?”

 

 

Company Vision, Goal, & Mission

 

The key takeaway is not only recognizing the importance of this vision and importance of this goal, the importance of this mission of your company, but if you don’t have it and you recognize that, is to work to start to achieve it in some way. It doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with one very, very small piece of building that management commitment. If you don’t have that, that’s your first area of focus in order to start to achieve these results and start to build this system, and start to build that momentum in order to create those positive outcomes. Takeaway number three is start to build this vision, this goal and this mission and if you don’t have that currently, that’s the place for you start.

 

 

Take Away #4: Understanding Injured Worker Perceptions About Workers’ Compensation

 

Now, my fourth takeaway comes from a presentation entitled Understanding Injured Worker Perceptions About Workers’ Compensation. Now, this presentation was given by Michele Adams from Disney, as well as Dr. John Ruser from WCRI. Now, Dr. Ruser obviously presented the studies and the findings and the data, and Michele talked about how they use these studies and findings and data to create actionable items and improvements in their work comp system to create better injured worker outcomes, as well as drive down their workers’ compensation costs.

 

Very quick I want to run through some of the data that Dr. Ruser presented and some of the predictors of injured workers’ outcome. I want to through these fairly quickly. He talked about the main predictors of outcome being education, their fear of being fired, whether or not they have comorbidities, and the last thing is their understanding of the English language. Their amount of education, whether or not they have a fear of being fired which also can be equated to their trust in their employer-employee relationship, whether or not they have comorbidities and their understanding of the English language.

 

Michele then went into fairly good detail about how they take this information and use it to improve their system. I thought it was a tremendous presentation. I have a bunch of notes from this one presentation alone. But, the key piece and my key takeaway from this one particular session to pass along to you was a statement that Michele made about observational data. I think one of the things that we find so often in our world today is an overwhelm of data. If you can take this information and you have a sophisticated system and you’re advanced in your knowledge of being able to tweak things and understand this data and really create these actionable items that Disney had, you can really use this data extremely effectively to create these better outcomes. But, the reality is that not every company is there. Not every company is that sophisticated. Not every company is that advanced in their journey of workers’ compensation management to be able to take this information, put it into practice immediately and create these outcomes.

 

 

Understand Value of Observational Data

 

The takeaway that Michele mentioned that not only are they sophisticated in understanding this data and creating these actionable systems, but she talked about the value of observational data to go out and actually see what is happening with what they call their cast members in the parks. If you go out and you’re observing what is happening and you say, “Well, at the beginning of every shift, X, Y and Z happens. The employees come and we’re getting a number of these injuries.” Then you can use that observational data, go back and look at it from a very pragmatic and analytical standpoint to create these systems. From a very simplistic standpoint whether or not you’re going back and analyzing your own data and creating these sophisticated systems, if you can just physically observe what’s happening, you’re physically having these conversations with employees, the value that that can now bring to your program is tremendous. You can create a very comprehensive behavioral-based safety program based around this idea. But, the simplistic idea of observing what’s happening is a key piece to continuous work comp improvement.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 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.

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 1

 

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 1

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 2

Top 5 Take Away Points from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference – Part 3

 

 

Hey there, Michael Stack here, CEO of Amaxx. We’re about a month out from the conclusion of the National Work Comp and Disability conference held again this year in Las Vegas, back at Mandalay Bay. It’s a great accommodation and I think they have right city to host this great conference every year. Now, I attended more sessions than I normally do. I was very interested in many of the topics that were presented. The general theme of the conference itself was really focusing on much of what, frankly, I teach and believe in, which is really the outcomes for the injured workers that drive down workers’ compensation costs, creating a true win-win scenario. I want to talk to you about my top five takeaways from the sessions that I attended.

 

 

 

What Have You Done With the Content & Contacts From Conference?

 

Before I get into the takeaways though I do have a question for you, particularly, if you attended the conference. I want you to answer this question honestly. What have you done with the content that you learned or the contacts that you received within this past 30 days since the conclusion of the conference? Did you take notes from the sessions? Have you read them over? Have you created your own top five takeaway list? Have you looked through those business cards that you received? Have you followed up with those individuals? Do you even remember the conversations even happening of what you were supposed to do?

 

What I find more often than not is that we run around crazy at these conferences. There are a couple of days our feet are hurting, we’re exhausted, we’re going to events, we’re attending sessions, we’re trying to get meetings scheduled in between, but when we come back to the office, we just kind of drop the ball and forget we even attended at all. So if there’s things that are left outstanding, if there’s things that you haven’t covered over the past 30 days that you meant to, I encourage you to take a look at them and take action with the next one to two weeks so that you can get the most value from attending that conference in the time that you spent.

 

If you didn’t come up with your own top five takeaways to implement because maybe you didn’t take as many notes as you would have liked or attended as many sessions as you’ve liked, I encourage you to use mine. Borrow the ideas that I’m going to be presenting today and implement those into your program even if it’s just one idea because you’re going to realize a lot more value from the time that you spent at the conference itself. Okay, so that’s my question. If you didn’t attend the conference then I encourage you to just leverage the information that I’m going to be talking about today.

 

 

 

Take Away #1: Alliance of Woman in Workers’ Compensation

 

Let’s talk about takeaway number one, which comes from the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation Leadership Forum which was held the day before the official conference started. Now, the presentation was given by Margaret Spence. Margaret did a tremendous job at that presentation and at that leadership forum. To be frank, it had a fairly big impact on my own life in this past 30 days. Let’s talk about some of the things that she discussed and while this presentation was obviously directed towards women. Obviously, I’m not a woman, so I can’t fully appreciate and empathize with the experience of a professional woman in today’s environment or in the years past.

But I will tell you that the stories that she was describing, some of the challenges that women face, that she described both in the past and, currently, today in 2018 was a bit disheartening. It was a bit disheartening to hear that that still exists in our world, particularly, as I’m raising two young daughters. From my perspective, one of the underlying themes as it was given from the female perspective was to acknowledge and appreciate the struggles that women have come through and still face today, But having the courage and the confidence to break through it. One thing I’ll add from the male perspective and the perspective I think is very similar.

 

From the male perspective to appreciate and acknowledge the struggles that women have faced in the past and often continue to face today, but having the confidence and the courage to break through that, because while some of those prejudices may still exist in our world today, they should not exist in your world. If you take an honest and genuine look at yourself, and you see that those prejudices still exists in your world then you need to take the steps to correct it.

 

 

4 Questions to Take Charge of Your Own Destiny

 

So putting the issues of gender aside because I felt that Margaret’s message was very important for women, but it was also very important for men. It’s very important for African Americans, for Hispanics, for Mexicans, for Japanese, for Chinese, for Indians, for every race and creed. Her message was about having the confidence and the courage to take charge of your own destiny, regardless of the environment that you’re in. She walked us through an exercise which I’m going to relay to you now. I’ll tell you the answers that I came up with during that session, during that leadership forum, had a very important impact on my goal planning and business planning for my company, for 2018. Here’s a little exercise that Margaret walked us through. The first thing that she asked was what do you want. What do you want? She asked you to answer that question honestly and genuinely.

 

Second question to answer is why. Why do you want it? What do you want and why do you want it? Third question is what has held you back. What is holding you back from achieving this goal, from achieving this desired outcome? Number four is what do you fear. What do you want, why do you want it, what is holding you back, and what do you fear? If you can honestly answer those questions, it will help you develop that confidence, help you develop that vision, help you develop that courage to create this life that you both deserve and desire.

 

 

 

Take Away #2: Intersection of Medicine & Disability – A Doctors View

 

Let’s move on to takeaway number two. This comes from a presentation given by Dr. Marcos Iglesias, who’s the Chief Medical Officer at Broadspire.

 

The session was entitled The Intersection of Medicine and Disability, A Doctor’s View. Now, frankly, I felt that this was a strongest session and most valuable session that I attended at the National Work Comp and Disability conference. I could have taken probably all five of my top takeaways from this one session alone. Dr. Iglesias did give a very candid and simple explanation of the doctor’s viewpoint, of the clinical perspective. One of the things that we forget about so often in workers’ compensation is that every single claim is a medical injury. Every single claim needs some form of medical intervention to have that individual person recover to maximum medical improvement.

 

 

60-80% of Lost Work Days are Unnecessary

 

The better that we can understand that clinic perspective, that doctors perspective; the better that we can develop that working partnership is the better outcomes we’ll be able to provide for the injured workers. Thus, driving down our workers’ compensation cost. Let me go through some of the highlights that I took out from that session. Dr. Iglesias described that 60% to 80% of lost days in workers compensation of lost workdays are unnecessary, this idea of needless disability. There’s a number of psychosocial reasons for that but it’s important for us as non-medical professionals to understand and appreciate really the value of this one statistic as we’re looking at our own individual work comp management programs.

 

He talked about this idea of the injured worker often being in-charge of determining disability. He described that patient-doctor interaction. He also described some of the little tricks which I thought this was fairly interesting. If you Google doctor’s notes, you can get a very specific doctor’s note that looks very real, that has a phone number that you can call in order for the employer to verify your injury, verify the time needed out of work. The injured worker is often determining their own disability in many cases not coming directly from the doctor. He went into a much greater detail and I’m oversimplifying that point, but I think it’s important piece to understand how much of an impact the injured worker has on determining their own disability and the tools that that injured worker has at their disposal.

 

 

Redirect Conversation from Pain to Function

 

Next piece here then was redirecting the conversation from talking about pain to discussing function. Now, this was an impactful takeaway point for me because one of the things that I always recommend on the reports of injury is having a pain scale so that when you’re reporting that industry, you have that understanding of the current level of pain, and then you could re-look back at that later. Dr. Iglesias described this discussion of pain as being unproductive, that the more you focus on pain, the worse that pain becomes. Instead of talking about pain, talking about function, what can you do today, impacting these biopsychosocial elements that contribute to these unnecessary lost workdays.

 

So, takeaway here is redirecting pain to function. Next piece here then from this presentation was reframing this physician relationship, reframing the expectations of the physician relationship. So often we asked too much of our physicians. We asked, “Well, Joe got injured. Can he be back to work today or not?” The answer that Dr. Iglesias described was often from the physician’s perspective, “I don’t really know. I don’t really know the limitations that he needs. I don’t really know his job demands. I don’t really know the tolerance that Joe has for pain.” So when you reframe this doctor’s relationship, as Dr. Iglesias described it, he described to talk about things that can actually be measurable, the limitations, the capacity, and the actual restrictions themselves of the injured worker.

 

So rather than, “Can Joe be back to work today or not,” talk about what are the limitations of Joe, what is the capacity of Joe, and what are the restrictions of Joe, then it’s up to the employer to decide if Joe can be back to work or not, not the treating physician. That’s the discussion and that’s a framing that needs to be had with those treating physician relationships that you proactively develop. Last takeaway from this one session which I thought was a great clarifying question because not all the time do you have these great and interactive treating physician relationships, not all the time are your physicians on board, so if you’re working with a new physician or the relationship hasn’t developed quite so well going back to this point that injured workers are often the ones that are determining their own disability.

 

 

“If Your Patient Asked to Go Back to Work, Would You Allow It”

 

Asking this question that if your patient asked to go back to work, would you allow it. So, asking the treating physician the clarifying question that if your patient, if Joe asked you then, “Can I go back to work,” would that treating physician allow it? If the answer is yes then you know that there’s really no medical reason that Joe needs to be out of work. If the answer is, “No, I wouldn’t allow it,” then you need to further clarify what those medical reasons are. I thought it was a tremendous clarifying question to speak directly to this point of needless disability.

 

 

Top 5 Take Aways from 2017 National Workers’ Comp & Disability Conference

 

…to be continued

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 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.

16 Red Flags of Violence in the Workplace

While murders in the workplace make the six o’clock news, injuries due to physical assault in the workplace are much more common. Violence in the workplace is not a new issue but continues to be an issue far greater than many employers recognize.

 

Workplace violence is not limited to prison guards and police officers. It can occur in almost any business.   Injuries due to disgruntled employees, mentally unstable employees and aggressive employees can cost the employer significantly in workers’ compensation cost, as well as reducing the morale of the work force.

 

  

Employers & Employees Have Responsibility

 

Both employers and employees need to recognize that a safe work environment is everyone’s responsibility.   Employers need to train their employees on how to recognize an unsafe situation when it relates to their co-workers. Employers should stress to their employees that workplace violence does not “go with job” and they do not have to “put up with it.” Employees need to bring to management’s attention any abnormal behavior of co-workers who threaten to harm, attempt to harm or cause harm to a co-worker, a supervisor or management.

 

Employers and employees need to recognize the red flags of potential workplace violence. Most violent employees behave in a way that cause their co-workers and employer to be concerned prior to a violent act. Some of the red flags employers and co-workers should notice include:

 

  1. Prior history of violent behavior.
  2. Making threats, either verbal or physical.
  3. Unexplained mood changes.
  4. Screaming, yelling or making a fist.
  5. Expressing homicidal or suicidal thoughts.
  6. Holding a grudge against a supervisor or co-workers.
  7. Blaming all things that go wrong on co-workers, supervisors or management.
  8. Expressing a feeling of loss of control within his/her life.
  9. A history of domestic abuse.
  10. Being obsessed with weapons or carrying a weapon (weapons should never be permitted in the workplace).
  11. Being a loner with no involvement with co-workers.
  12. Having paranoid behavior or making statements that reflect paranoid thoughts.
  13. Having an unwanted romantic interest in a co-worker.
  14. Abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs or medications while off the job.
  15. Abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs or medications while on the job (should be grounds within your safety program for immediate termination).
  16. Having extreme financial problems or extreme family problems.

 

 

All Employees Understand Red Flags

 

All employees should know what is considered a red flag for potential violence and should feel free to report their concerns without fear of any reprisal from their supervisor or management. Once a red flag is recognized, proper risk management requires a plan to reduce the potential risk of violence. The employer should assess and document both objective and subjective behavior of the employee who is causing the concern.   If procedures are already in place to deal with the situation, they should be followed.

 

If an employee feels there is a risk of violence, the employee should notify the immediate supervisor at once. The employee’s supervisor should take appropriate action when a red flag for violence is brought to their attention. If the supervisor does not take the appropriate action, then the employee should follow the chain of command until management takes protective measures to ensure employee safety.

 

 

Workplace Violence Not Limited to Employees

 

Workplace violence is not limited to employees. Often estranged domestic partners or estranged lovers will strike out at the partner while the partner is at work. People who deal with the general public like convenience store cashiers can be subjected to violence. Terroristic acts by disgruntled former employees or disgruntled customers can be the cause of workplace violence. In some metropolitan areas gang related activity can invade the workplace.

 

A part of your safety program should address the access to the work site by non-employees. Your employees should know what the protocol is for non-employees to be admitted to the workplace. Any deviation from the established procedure should be immediately brought to the attention of management.

 

Employers can further steps to reduce the potential of violence including the installation of alarm systems; the arrangement of furniture, cubicles or machinery to prevent employees from being trapped; the use of escorts; and, the use of cells phones to request assistance if needed.

 

Your safety program for your company should have a written policy on preventing workplace violence. The written policy should have zero tolerance for workplace violence and zero tolerance for the threat of violence, either verbal or physical. While all workplace violence cannot be eliminated, the employers who have a workplace safety program with a section on preventing violence will achieve a significant reduction in work place injuries due to violence and a reduction in the severity of the injuries due to workplace violence.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 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.

 

 

 

7 Steps to Manage Occupational/Environmental Exposure Claims

You want to make sure your injured workers get the benefits they need to recover and get back to work. At the same time, you don’t want to waste money on a claim unrelated to the workplace. That can be especially tricky when an occupational/environmental exposure is involved.

 

Injuries caused by toxic substances in the worker’s environment may not be immediately apparent to the employee; or the cause may not be easily identified. It’s important to take all necessary steps to determine if, and to what extent your workplace caused the employee’s illness.

 

 

What Are Occupational / Environmental Exposures?

 

Occupational/environmental exposures that pose a risk include chemical, physical and biological substances and can enter the body through breathing, skin exposure or ingestion.

 

Examples are:

 

  • Fumes, such as those from diesel vehicles.
  • Airborne materials such as coal dust.
  • Infectious materials, including those found in the blood or bodily fluids of infected patients.
  • Drugs used in cancer treatment and medical research.
  • Materials used in construction.

 

Workers especially at risk include those in health services, fabricated metal products, rubber and plastics products, textile mills, machinery, transportation equipment, and electrical or electronic equipment.

 

 

Considerations

 

When an employee (or employees) report an illness they believe was caused by exposure to something in the workplace, there are several issues to consider.

 

  1. Safety and risk. First and foremost, you want to get the affected employee(s) out of harm’s way. That may require more or better ventilation or even temporarily moving the employee(s) to a separate area.

 

  1. Number of employees. If multiple employees report similar symptoms, chances are there is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. For example, if a work area has undergone painting, cleaning or had carpeting installed and multiple employees report breathing problems you need to address the concern ASAP. If a single employee is having issues, there may be something unique about the area where that employee spends time, or substances he works around. He may be having an allergic reaction, or have a low sensitivity threshold. You need to investigate to try and determine the cause.

 

  1. A diagnosis from a medical provider can give you clues to the problem, if there is one. If the employee(s) has seen a physician and has a diagnosis, determine whether the type of exposure associated with it is present in your workplace. If it is, find out if, when and for how long the employee(s) was exposed to it. If personal protective clothing and/or equipment was required, find out whether the employee(s) used it.

 

  1. Investigate. As with any workers’ compensation claim, you need to look into the situation to uncover the facts. With occupational exposure claims you should be even more diligent.

 

– Interview the affected worker(s) and any witnesses. Ask, for example, whether there have been any recent spills of potentially toxic substances.

– Check out the work area for things such as leaks, ventilation issues, or cleaning or renovation work that may have involved toxic chemicals.

– Ask an expert. You may want to consider environmental testing from an outside party.

– Look at your documents regarding exposure; such as safety data sheets for substances used, purchase orders, or disposal logs. Also look at safety reports.

– Be transparent. You want your employees to know you take their symptoms and concerns seriously and are addressing them. Once you’ve investigated the situation and have some answers, let your employees know the results — and what you plan to do about it. Also share the findings with treating physicians to help them.

 

  1. A one-time event can alert you to a problem before others are affected. An ongoing situation may be evidence of something more serious, such as mold growth, which must be taken care of.

 

  1. Past claims. If a worker has reported the same or similar claims in the past, it could be an indication of a past exposure that has developed into something more serious for the worker, such as lead poisoning or lung or hematologic cancer.

 

 

Accept or deny

 

Your investigative efforts may yield no concrete information. At that point, you may want to either accept the claim(s) or pursue denial.

 

  • Accepting the claim. You may decide the expense and time needed to pursue denial is fruitless. If you accept the claim, you still need to address whatever the problem is. If accommodations can be made for the employee(s), consider them. Alternatively, you may need to consider whether the person is a good fit for the work environment, due to a preexisting condition.

 

  • Denying the claim. If you proceed with denying a claim in which causation is questionable even after your investigation, a medical expert should be called. The person should be board certified and have experience with the exposure condition. You should familiarize the expert with the work environment and the employee’s duty, and provide complete medical records.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Occupational/environmental exposures should be taken as seriously as any other workers’ compensation claim, even though the evidence may not be as clear cut. Ignoring them or failing to fully investigate can end up being extremely costly.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 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.

 

4 Risks from Hurricanes and How to Mitigate Them

The devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria underscores the seriousness of these storms. The loss of life and severe damage to structures can easily occur.

 

Employers should never take the threat of a storm lightly. Workers should be provided with the right equipment and training before, during and after a storm. With the Atlantic hurricane season continuing through the end of November, it’s important to take all steps necessary to protect workers.

 

 

Evacuation Plan

 

Protecting workers starts by making sure they stay out of harm’s way. An evacuation plan should be implemented that outlines when, how and what actions will be taken.

 

It might include:

 

  • Conditions that will activate the plan.
  • Chain of command.
  • Emergency functions and who will perform them.
  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits.
  • Communication plan, and procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors.

 

It’s also important to with work local emergency and other officials to get the very latest information, and be ready to heed instructions from local authorities.

 

 

Understand The Terminology

 

A hurricane or tropical storm ‘watch’ means such a storm is possible; a ‘warning’ means it is expected to strike the area, usually within 24 hours. At the first signs of a storm — the ‘watch’ — initial preparations should be undertaken.

 

It’s also important to understand the extent of damage that an impending storm could do. Widespread flooding and wind damage can occur. Hurricanes are categorized into 5 groups:

 

  • Category 1. Winds of 74 – 95 mph are expected, which snap large branches and topple shallowly-rooted trees. Buildings that are well constructed could have damage to roofs, siding and gutters. Power lines can be damaged or downed, creating a potentially disastrous situation. Power outages lasting from hours to weeks are possible and must be taken into account.

 

  • Category 2. These 96 – 110 winds are extremely dangerous and cause extensive damage. In addition to downed trees and damaged buildings. Near total power loss is expected.

 

  • Category 3. Winds of 111 – 129 mph can cause devastating damage. In addition, both electricity and water may become unavailable for days or weeks.

 

  • Category 4. 130 – 156 mph winds are catastrophic, with severe damage to roof structures and some exterior walls. Power outages can last from weeks to months and areas hit may be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

 

  • Category 5.  With winds of over 157 mph buildings are destroyed, trees and power lines are downed, and most areas affected are uninhabitable for weeks or months.

 

 

Post Storm Strategy

 

Hard hats, safety glasses, work gloves, fall protection and steel toed and waterproof boots may be necessary for cleanup efforts and should be purchased before a storm.  There are many potential dangers facing workers after a hurricane. Here are several of the most common and how employers can mitigate their risks.

 

  1. Contaminated water. Bacteria, toxic substances and mold or fungi could be present in flooded areas. Workers should be trained to assume flood waters are contaminated and only those with the proper protective apparatus should be allowed to clean up these areas. The use of approved disposable respirators should be included. Materials that have obvious water damage and contamination should be discarded. Clean water should be available for workers to drink and use for hand washing.

 

  1. Damaged/downed power lines. Workers who are expected to cut and remove tree limbs can easily come in contact with power lines, causing them burns or electrocutions. They can also be injured from falling branches or trees, or from removal equipment, unless properly trained. Workers should be trained to assume all power lines are live or energized and these areas should be clearly marked as danger zones where debris may fall on workers. Employees should also be instructed to remain at least 10 feet away from downed lines. The utility company should be contacted to deenergize power lines. Workers should be provided with PPE and trained to protect themselves from injuries caused by using equipment with which they are unfamiliar.

 

  1. Portable generators. Electrical shocks and electrocution from gas and diesel power generators can occur, especially to the inadequately trained worker. Carbon monoxide exhaust can harm a worker, along with fires caused by improperly refueling. Workers expected to handle generators should be trained to avoid using one inside an enclosed space. There should be proper ventilation in the area where they will be used. Employees should inspect all electrical cords for defects, and use a ground-fault circuit interrupter. And they should shut down the generator before refueling.

 

  1. Construction activities. Demolition of structures, such as sheds or other facilities may expose workers to asbestos contaminated materials. Confined spaces with limited access present suffocation hazards. Cave-in are a risk in unsecured buildings. And there is the risk of musculoskeletal injuries from lifting and handling building materials and debris. Appropriate PPE should be provided and may include respirators. Confined spaces with permits required for entering should be off limits to any worker who is not properly trained and/or does not have a permit. Cave-ins can be prevented by benching, sloping, shoring or shielding the soil. Proper lifting techniques should be employed. Bulky and heavy items should be moved by two-person teams.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The debate over climate change and its potential effects on recent storms notwithstanding, the 2017 hurricane season has been one of the worst on record. With several weeks left, employers with facilities in potentially affected areas need to make sure they do everything possible to protect the safety of their workers.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO 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 & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 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.

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