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.

Hiring Unqualified People Is Big Worker’s Comp Mistake

Hiring Unqualified People Is Big Worker’s Comp MistakeHiring unqualified people to fill positions within the workforce is by far one of the biggest mistakes made in maintaining low workers’ comp costs.

 

The trucking industry and bus drivers for school buses, over the road or municipal buses is a perfect example of how applying ability standards as conditions of employment help maintain work comp costs, while maintaining productivity and high safety standards.

 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires medical exams to ensure a driver is physically capable and qualified to operate a big rig truck. Using a variation of these standards in hiring can help companies protect their workers’ comp budgets by making sure they hire an employee who can do the job!

 

 

Adapt DOT Approach to Meet Your Company Needs

 

DOT’s approach can easily be adapted to meet the needs of all companies. Place the emphasis not only in performing background checks and drug screening, but also make sure potential employees are qualified to perform the job they are hired for. If the position calls for someone with above average hand-eye coordination, would it be wise to hire the next candidate who walked through the door without qualifying him/her for the job?

 

When a company suffers from too many employee accidents, the nature of the accident needs to be examined. Policies need to be put into place to prevent reoccurrences. Accidents do happen and with proactive policies dictating how these events are handled, management personnel has tools to help them fine tune employee training and accident avoidance policies.

 

Many companies have strict procedures requiring the immediate reporting of all accidents, whether there was injury or not, followed up by detailed documentation of the event. Where there is an injury, these policies ensure the injured employee receives prompt medical treatment, timely filing of required workers’ comp paperwork and claims forms, and the employee’s recovery is monitored to ensure a prompt return to work, even if into modified duty.

 

Additionally being on top of all work related accidents and injures affords greater control of these situations and provide the means to monitor and evaluate employee qualifications and adherence to workflow procedures.

 

 

Cost Savings Are Easy to Calculate

 

Cost Savings is easy to calculate. Enter the total incurred losses and your profit margin, and when you calculate, it will show the sales to pay for accidents. For example, it will take 11 Million dollars to replace $500,000 in incurred losses if your companies profit margin is 4.5%. So, it’s cost effective to put a program in place to screen new hires and make sure they are physically and psychologically suited to the job.

 

The focus of administration is on fostering safety within the workflow and encouraging employees to follow procedures and help newer employees do the same. By making employee safety as important as meeting production quotas and timelines, you, the employer, show your employees you care about them. The employer’s sincere concern is then perceived by the employees as their company caring about their welfare.

 

By establishing qualification testing and standards in the workforce, a company can ensure safety and work procedures are not compromised, keep the workforce safe while maintaining workers’ comp costs and workforce productivity. There are numerous companies that help set up employment screening programs. Interview several, and ask them to come to your facility to meet them and let them see the jobs your company performs.

 

 

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.

September 11th Remembered – Tribute To Marsh And AON

Article republished from a previous post.

 

Everyone remembers where they were the when they learned the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground. I was scooping ice cream at the Mansfield Center General Store. Having recently retired from the risk management and insurance industry, I had moved back to the area, built a house in Mansfield Center and worked from my home office. I was helping my family restore and run the General Store.

 

I had an exciting career in risk management and insurance working for two of the best insurance brokers in the industry. BOTH companies had sizeable offices located in the World Trade Center. So, when Bill called and asked me if I was watching TV, did I know a plane flew into the World Trade Center, I was alarmed. Initially I thought he meant it was a small plane, but when I turned on the TV, I could see it was a huge plane and the building was on fire. And then another plane had flown into the other tower.

 

 

We Never Knew How 9/11 Could Affect An Entire Industry

 

Everyone in the risk management field “plans”… we plan for every eventuality, thinking things through. That’s what we do. We help our clients, which are large companies such as The New York Times, Universal Orlando, and USAir, etc. plan how to provide safer workplaces, safer products and safer environments. But we never planned for Sept 11. We never knew how it could affect an entire industry.

 

AON and Marsh are the two largest insurance brokers in the world and I – with a loyal team of consultants – was responsible for development of the workers’ compensation practices at those companies. Workers’ comp insurance is the largest line of insurance coverage – a huge cost to most employers – and I had found the solution to reduce those costs significantly. Helping a wide-variety of types of organizations was gratifying, and there was a new challenge every day. I had written, published, traveled, and worked hard for 25 years, so I looked forward to scaling back.

 

When a retirement opportunity presented itself, I left the workforce to enjoy being a mom. My daughter was 17 and Glastonbury High School had not gone well. Against her will, we had moved her to a private school, and she and I were getting reacquainted during the long drive to and from school in Farmington, CT. Life was good.

 

 

Many Former Employees Went Back To Work

 

It wasn’t part of the plan to go back to work, but two weeks after Sept 11, I went back to AON, filling in for Lisa Ehrlich. Lisa was an outsourced risk manager who worked on-site at a company in Stamford, CT. On 9/11, she had gone into the NY office for a meeting and was killed that day. I was honored to be able to help in some small way. Many former employees went back to work in the intervening years to help the brokers rebuilt their practices. Here is a remembrance of my colleagues.

 

In the 15 years since Sept 11, a new generation has taken over. Some hardly know our industry lost so many that day, key leaders and pioneers in the field of workers’ compensation cost containment. In the intervening years, my niece and nephew, Kori and Michael Stack, have taken over a leadership role in my company and become industry leaders in their own right. I am very proud of them for carrying on the legacy and memory of our beloved colleagues lost on that fateful day.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Reducing Work Comp Cost via Focus on Cultural Competence

The changing American workforce requires workers’ compensation professionals and stakeholders to step outside their comfort zones and challenge stereotypes and bias.  This includes the ability to work with people from different ethnic backgrounds to promote a workplace dedicated to safety.  This requires full engagement from leaders within the company and insurance carriers.

 

 

Common Cultural Barriers to An Effective Work Comp Program

 

The great American melting pot continues to change.  This includes immigration from different parts of the world with people who seek their pursuit of happiness and a better life in the United States.  These changes impact workers’ compensation programs based on barriers that need to be broken down.  Common barriers include:

 

  • Mistrust of the government, including courts and government officials. Workers’ compensation programs involve a component of government involvement, including industrial commissions and judges.  A mistrust of these officials can impact how immigrants perceive justice.

 

  • Perceptions within one’s community by ethnic groups following a work injury. Even in instances where an injury is temporary, there is an underlying stigma attached in some communities that transcends the confines of the law and a workers’ compensation act.  Lack of self-worth following an injury trickles down to prolonged medical care and receipt of indemnity benefits.

 

  • Inherent risk of injury to new immigrant populations. Countless studies demonstrate non-white and/or non-English speaking populations suffer work injuries at a greater frequency than Caucasian and/or English speaking populations.  Like immigrants from Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, today’s immigrants tend to have fewer transferable job skills as whole and gravitate toward positions resulting in a higher frequency of injury.

 

 

Proactive Approaches to a Changing Workforce

 

Members of the claims management team and their employer counterparts can take a hands-on approach to managing their risks when it comes to workers’ compensation matters.  Here are some practical and easy to implement strategies, which will increase safety, reduce program costs and improve employee morale.

 

  • Thinking beyond English and Spanish. The American workforce continues to change and evolve.  With each passing year, more languages are spoken in the workplace.  Never assume that the region of your business limits the possible number of languages spoken.  Assumptions should also never be made that all members of the workforce can read signs.  Providing verbal and written safety instructions are key.  Use a competent translator if in doubt.

 

  • Develop a cultural competency within the workplace. People from around the world develop customs and beliefs based on their world view.  What may seem odd to some, is the norm to others.  Look for opportunities to bridge the gap and develop trust by your actions.

 

 

The Irrelevancy of Immigration Status

 

A review of various workers’ compensation laws point to the conclusion that one’s immigration status has little relevancy when it comes to questions on compensability of a workplace injury.  In a majority of situations, courts have held one’s immigration status does not impact the ability to receive indemnity and medical benefits following a workers’ compensation injury.

 

Stakeholders should be proactive and follow all state and federal employment laws in their hiring practices.  Following this rule can avoid issues down the road when it comes to return-to-work, job search and making a job offer post injury.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Interested stakeholders in workers’ compensation programs are faced with many challenges.  Among these include the need to accommodate a diverse workforce.  Central to this matter should be tenants that drive any program—treat all employees with respect and dignity.  Going the extra mile to ensure all employees are safe in the workplace takes little effort and can only improve the cost effectiveness of a program.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, 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.

 

Relieve Workers’ Comp Burden by Assessing Honesty, Resiliency, and Attitude

 

Hey there Michael Stack here. I’m the CEO of Amaxx and I’m also the founder of the Amaxx Workers Comp Training Center. Now I read a pretty interesting blog post written by Karen Yotis on the Lexis Nexis legal newsroom blog. You can find a link to that article below.

 

Karen Yotis Blog Post: Morbidity, Disability, Cost, Pain & Distress: Exposing the True Burden of Workers’ Compensation

 

 

Assessing the Burden of Work Related Injuries

 

But in that post she referenced an article in the American Journal of Public Health entitled Assessing the Burden of Work Related Injuries, Illness and Distress. Now the point of this article in the journal was really calling attention to the need for more research on understanding the more global impact of work related illnesses. It talked about the family impact, the work impact and really this overall wellbeing indication including the social consequences. Now there’s some political drivers and motivations behind really the desire to write this article and desire for more of that research but what I’m more interested in is the impact that it has on you. And your organization. And the perspective that can be gained from the motivation of this article.

 

 

So I want to talk about that point. And I have two how-tos to share:

 

 

Workers’ Compensation Goes Far Beyond The Injury

 

The first is realizing as is referenced in the article that workers compensation goes far beyond the injury to one individual and the pain that’s occurring in their back or their shoulder or their knee and the ability to get that person back to work. We talk a lot about direct costs and indirect costs of workers compensation and realizing what that means for our bottom line. But I also want to call attention to those psychosocial and social consequences within your own organization. The impact that it has on the amount of trust your employees have. The impact that it has on the engagement of your workforce and the impact it has on the amount that that workforce feels you care about them. Studies have shown and reinforced the importance of trust and care in the recovery of workers compensation and workers compensation costs.

 

 

Assess Honesty, Resiliency, Attitude

 

The second point and one of political drivers and the point for you to be aware of is that 5% of workers compensation claims account for 80% of workers compensation costs. 5% of claims account for 80% of workers compensation costs. So from your organization’s standpoint, what does that mean? I want to give you a how to on this. This comes from Dr. Christopher Brigham’s book Living Abled and a presentation that we gave together last year.

 

 

Now there’s some more sophisticated modeling and serving that you could implement in your program but I want to give you some simple things to look out for when a claim occurs, that if these things are in play, you may need to bring in some additional support and resources for having that claim prevented from being a much larger and more significant and costly claim than it needs to be.

 

 

Take a look at the employee’s honesty, resiliency and attitude. Honesty, resiliency and attitude. If the person is less than truthful, typically in their employment career, it they’ve had minor setbacks that have caused them major setbacks and they have a real tough time getting over those, or they have a poor attitude at work. These are clear red flag indicators that you’re going to possibly need some more intervention from preventing that claim from being much larger and much more costly than it has to be.

 

 

So have that global perspective and be aware of those claims because it will have a dramatic impact not only on your bottom line, but also on the lives of your injured workers.

 

 

Again I’m Michael Stack with Amaxx. And remember your success in workers’ compensation is defined by your integrity. Be great.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, 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.

6 Ways to Avoid Ransomware

Imagine walking into your office, turning on your computer, and seeing nothing but a message demanding bitcoins in return for unlocking all your company’s files. The nightmare known as ‘Ransomware’ recently became all too real for more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, bringing some hospitals and other organizations to a halt. While those affected were primarily outside the U.S., experts say the perpetrators are ramping up their efforts and they warn all businesses to take steps to prepare.

 

The information typically available within the workers’ compensation system — social security numbers, personal health information, etc., — makes it a must for the industry to take notice of the situation. The good news is there are ways to shield and prevent such attacks from infiltrating your company.

 

 

What Is Ransomware

 

Ransomware takes the idea of hacking to a whole new level. Those spearheading the efforts are not necessarily interested in stealing your data, they really just want to hold it hostage until you pay up — hence the term.

 

Businesses large and small may be equally at risk. In fact, small businesses may be even more at risk than larger ones because of their often more relaxed attitude about cyber security.

 

Ransomware is sophisticated malware that blocks access to a computer by encrypting the data or system until it is unlocked. ‘WannaCry,’ the malware used in the recent incident, is not the only ransomware out there and, in fact, there are even copycat versions of WannaCry now available on the black market.

 

The wrongdoers look for the easiest way to infect a system or network and use it as a means to spread the malicious content. Often, it is through an unwitting employee. Phishing is one of the main ways of accessing a computer, where someone sends emails that that appear to be from legit companies, but are not.

 

Another method is for someone to send a fraudulent email that appears to come from a high-ranking company official seeking sensitive information or money transfers. Lost devices, such as laptops, phones and physical files are another way to break in to a company’s network.

 

 

Ransomware Preventive Measures

 

  • Back it up – twice. An external hard drive should be used for backing up all your files and data; then it should be disconnected from the computer. The cloud may be used for a second backup, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. However, the cloud application should not be turned on except once per day to sync the data. Another backup source can be an ‘air gapped’ computer or server, that is secure and isolated from other networks.

 

  • Train employees. Unfortunately, unwitting employees may be the most vulnerable part of your cyber security. It’s imperative they understand and are kept up to date on what and how cyber-attacks and ransomware occur and how to prevent them. You can then periodically test employees with mock phishing emails. The training should be ongoing and should include the following:

 

– Review emails closely to make sure they are from a trusted and known sender before links or attachments are opened.

– Never download attachments from spam or suspicious emails.

– Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) training to highlight the risks in downloading suspicious apps on them. On smartphones, only official materials should be downloaded.

– Don’t store important data on the PC, if possible.

 

  • Update software. Computers and software that are outdated are more likely to crash and face cyberattacks. Security updates for Microsoft and other operating systems should be applied immediately, including any patches released to combat WannaCry or malware. Antivirus and anti-spam filters should also be kept current.

 

  • Implement/update security policies. Passwords should be strong; meaning they should contain upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols; and they should be changed at least every 90 days. A companywide password policy should be strictly enforced. Computer browsers’ security and privacy settings should be adjusted for better protection. Outdated plugins and add-ons should be removed from the browser. An ad blocker should be used to prevent potentially malicious ads.

 

  • Check your policy. If your company does not have a cyber policy, explore the idea of getting one. These typically cover the cost of notifying those whose data has been affected, and even hiring a public relations firm to combat reputational damage. If you have a policy it’s vital to inform the insurer if and when a breach occurs. Other policies that may include coverage are kidnap and ransom, or property policies. In the event of a breach these may help pay for legal costs, data restoration, business interruption and the ransom, if paid.

 

  • Incident response plan. Your company should consider forming an action plan that would kick into effect in the event of a security breach, to help limit costs and damages. It should guide personnel at all levels to help manage the breach. Once implemented, you can run simulated attacks to test your company’s level of preparedness.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, 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.

Workers’ Comp Should Embrace Wearable Technology with Caution

They come in all types of gadgets. Wristbands. Watches. Eye glasses. They can be woven into your clothes. Or embedded in your jewelry. Or implanted in personal protective equipment.

 

These ‘wearables’ are small, electronic wireless devices capable of communicating with other devices and people. They allow for data collection and analysis in real time, and are increasingly being used to prevent injuries, aid recovery and expedite claim processing.

 

While wearables hold great promise for the workers’ compensation industry, they are also largely unproven, unregulated and possibly, unsafe. Employers can reap tremendous benefits from this emerging technology — if they understand the risks and how to mitigate them.

 

 

What They Are

 

Wearables are not new. There was the calculator watch of the 1980s, and before that, the hearing aid was a form of wearable technology. Things changed in the early 2000s with the introduction of the HugShirt. With its Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to send hugs via smart devices, Time Magazine named it one of 2006’s Best Inventions of the Year.

 

Since then, wearables have spread to many other applications. Consumers use wearable wristbands to monitor everything from their caloric intake and steps per day, to their sleeping patterns. The medical profession has embraced the technology to monitor patients by tracking their heart rates, physical activity, and blood glucose levels.

 

In our industry wearables are used to detect concussions in workers wearing hard hats, and monitor fatigue among employees wearing special wristbands. They are also used post injury to track the injured worker’s recovery and improve a catastrophically injured worker’s quality of life, such as the Exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to walk.

 

The data produced by wearables can help better coordinate and manage medical care and, ultimately help the worker and employer. However, much of the data being transferred is private and/or sensitive. Companies need to consider the unintended consequences involved.

 

 

The Risks

 

Individuals and companies can be harmed by the use of wearables in a number of ways.

 

  • Distractions. ‘Smart’ glasses can capture real-time facial images and videos, and search and post data on that person. But workers wearing them can be easily distracted, potentially resulting in accidents when driving or even walking.
  • While wearable wristbands are still all the rage, some users have developed allergic contact dermatitis.
  • Corporate security. Among the biggest concerns about wearables is the potential for a company’s proprietary information to get into the wrong hands. The devices can record private conversations, take pictures and share information online. Because they can be connected to smartphones, data can be constantly transferred wirelessly. The wearables can also be plugged into a computer via a USB port and introduce viruses into the company’s system. Also, the device could be used to download sensitive information. Currently, these devices often require no PIN or password, making it easy for someone to access its data.
  • The potential unauthorized access to employees’ medical and other personal information can be devastating for companies and workers alike.
  • Hacking. Employees with wearables may unknowingly have their devices hacked or controlled remotely.

 

 

Protections

 

Despite the risks, the use of wearables is expanding and shows no signs of slowing down. But there are strategies you can take to protect your workers and your company from the risks of this newer technology.

 

  • Vet the vendor. Before purchasing wearables, look carefully at the companies that supply them. Understand what needs you are trying to address and which devices will be most appropriate. Then look for a vendor that is aligned with your goals.
  • Seek buy-in. Money spent on wearables will be wasted if your employees don’t wear them. Work with your employees as you go through the process of determining which, if any wearables you want. Make sure they understand you won’t use sensitive data in any way that could harm them.
  • Establish policies. If your company has a policy for employee-owned mobile devices, include wearables in it. There should be rules for these bring-your-own-devices, or BYODs. If the policy is not broad enough, change the wording to ensure wearables are included. You should define the acceptable use of wearables and ensure employees understand and pledge to abide by the policy.
  • Monitor your networks. It’s important to continually identify when information is being sent over your company’s network and by what device. If an event does happen and you need to take down part of the network to repair it, you should have disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place that allows the company to resume normal functioning.
  • Check your policy limits. Does your insurance policy cover the risk associated with wearables? You may want to take a closer look and ensure it does.
  • Educate wearers. You want to make sure your employees use the devices properly and understand the risks involved to themselves and the company, and how to reduce them. Your insurer or TPA may have an expert available to speak with your workforce. If not, check local resources, such as the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Protect sensitive areas. If certain areas of your company have highly sensitive information, you may want to disable Bluetooth in them to reduce the chance of a data leak.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Wearables are the latest ‘disruption’ to the workers’ compensation industry. They can give you a competitive advantage if used appropriately and with the right precautions in place.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, 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/

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining

 

©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.

Three Common Mistakes In Enterprise Risk Management

Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) gives a holistic view of all risk across the enterprise and allows for timely decisions based on apples to apples comparisons. It requires process owners to think like owners and to provide timely and accurate reporting. It transitions what is most important into actionable plans that are supported by a consistent process for controls and monitoring. A company seeking to improve workers’ compensation management may be considering ERM improvements, and vice-versa.

 

Companies who engage in ERM have a strong competitive advantage. It gives all stakeholders the confidence that the management team is applying a structured approach to identifying, assessing and managing the company’s most important risk. It makes a clear statement to the value of appropriate allocation of resources  and efficiency in governance.

 

With the clear value ERM brings, why are so many companies missing the opportunity? Why do they recognize the value but struggle to get their programs up and running? Our research and experience shows:

 

1              They make it more complex than it needs to be

2              They spend too much time prepping and not enough time doing

3              They miss opportunities when it comes to technology

 

We recommend simplifying foundational concepts, streamlining the process into immediate action and using technology to get your program off the ground.

 

 

Make it Simple

 

Most have heard the terms and concepts of ERM, but do not have the time to get their arms around them. To successfully get off the ground and make progress, the first step needs to be — MAKE IT SIMPLE. Not just initially but for the long haul. Peers at an executive level need to be able to be on the same page and the message to process owners needs to be clear. If it is not simple and clear you will waste count- less hours with no real value.

 

A best practice ERM framework simply means your company has an efficient and effective way to collect risk across the enterprise, a way to quantify risk across business silos and a way to put what is most important into action.

 

If your employees are not aware you have an ERM initiative, you don’t have one. Foundational to the process is identifying what the team looks like that makes up your 3 lines of defense; defining roles, clearly/concisely communicating the core concepts and engaging stakeholders to be part of the process.

 

Moving forward, we recommend finding simple and efficient ways to capture the team’s perspective on risk. Keep the questions straightforward and use technology to gather data in a way that is easy for them. Use simple questions like, what could hinder their success in reaching objectives, what risk they have encountered over the last year, what they heard or observed from others and what is happening externally—in industry, among competitors, regulators, etc.?

 

The next step of the equation is putting time into dealing with governance obstacles. Things start to slow down when “simple” is not applied to the long haul. Look for opportunities to identify obstacles and apply efficiency.

 

 

Just Get Started

 

As companies are attempting to get their ERM programs up and running, they mistakenly think it must be perfectly mapped out before steps can be taken. This, unfortunately, pro- motes the idea of long drawn out committees with no value being realized for upwards of 2 years down the road.

 

Take steps that build long term success, while in tandem, build in steps to capture immediate value. Many companies take too long to capture their top risk and even longer to translate it into action. While the framework is taking shape and you’re capturing and organizing your top risk, jump ahead of the process, and put key risk you know will likely end up as a top 10 cate- gory into an ERM Plan. This will be time well spent to pilot a repeatable process to consistently assess, mitigate and monitor risk that will be transferable to other risk plans.

 

 

Begin with Technology

 

Unfortunately, some companies get started on an ERM initiative and end up putting their efforts on the shelf. This is a natural outcome of not simplifying and getting started (streamlining the process). Avoid wasted time and efforts by using technology early.

 

Many companies mistakenly think ERM technology comes into play after a mature program is in place. They do not take advantage of tools that can streamline the educational process, allow for efficient platforms to collect data, transition risk into structured plans and transition obstacles into governance efficiency.

 

 

ERM Checklist

 

  • Do staff/process owners know you are focusing on ERM and are they engaged? 
  • Is there consistent and effective reporting on risks and controls?
  • Are you putting efforts into keeping it simple
  • Can cross-silo’d decisions be made from your assessment scale?
  • Do you have an easy way to capture risk?
  • Is there structured focus on governance efficiency?
  • Are your most important risks getting transitioned into action?

 

 

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

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