6 Tips to Battle Workers’ Comp Comorbidities

Proactive workers’ compensation claim management teams are constantly seeking opportunities to reduce workers’ compensation costs and promote efficiencies.  One such area to address these concerns is battling comorbidities and developing a healthier workforce.  Doing so in an effective matter will reduce the cost of claims and significantly benefit your program.

 

 

What Are Comorbidities?

 

From a medical point of view, a “comorbidity” is a medical condition that exists along with other injuries or ailments.  An example of this in the context of a workers’ compensation claim is a claimant suffering from a work-related injury who has another medical condition.  Common examples include high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or mental health conditions.  Modern medicine even classifies smoking and use of tobacco as a comorbid condition.

 

It is important for members of the claims management team to identify claimants who have a comorbid condition.  This is because they may often require additional medical care and treatment, or there could be an aggravation of the underlying condition as the result of the work injury.  The ramifications of this include prolonged disability, increased medical care and treatment, addiction to prescription pain medication or permanent and total disability.

 

 

Dealing with the Immediate Issues

 

Once a claim handler is aware of an injured worker with a comorbid condition, it is important to position the matter to avoid future long-term exposures.  In the short-term, members of the claims management team need to monitor claims with care.  This includes a number of actions to keep on top of the claim:

 

  • Frequent contact with the employee to monitor progress and evaluate for referral to defense counsel;

 

  • Determine if or when the employee should be seen for an independent medical examination. Depending on the nature of the claim and comorbid condition, this may require the use of multiple medical experts.  This is frequently common in claims involving an underlying psychological and/or psychiatric condition; and

 

  • Opportunities to put the claim into litigation, as necessary.

 

 

Techniques for Successful Claim Management

 

It is also important to work with interested stakeholders to seek solutions that will develop a healthier workforce to mitigate future claims. Examples of being proactive in this area include:

 

  • Developing a smoking cessation and tobacco dependence program. It is well-documented that workers’ compensation claims involving a smoker/tobacco user cost significantly more when compared to their non-tobacco using counterparts.  While fewer Americans are using tobacco, a certain segment of the workforce continues to use these products;

 

  • Encourage employers to offer gym memberships (free or reduced) and other weight loss programs. Other options include encouraging people to take regular breaks to stretch and move around.  This is also an opportunity for employers to seek out medical insurance programs that offer discounts for members who undergo biometric testing; and

 

  • Increasing the level of education workers have regarding their eating habits. This includes the development of relationships with organizations and registered dieticians who provide information on better food selection, preparation and consumption.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Having an effective workers’ compensation program goes beyond knowing the law and working your claim files in an effective matter.  Proactive claim management teams need to address the underlying issues of a claim such as claimants with comorbid conditions to reduce costs in a program.  This includes addressing issues present on a file and promoting a healthier workplace to mitigate the risk of expensive future claims.

 

 

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.

Top 3 Pitfalls When Implementing Wellness In The Workplace

Numerous studies demonstrate the benefits of wellness programs and their positive impact of reducing workers’ compensation costs.  While they can reduce costs in a program of any size, it is important to be aware of some common pitfalls organizations face when implementing wellness programs.

 

 

A Common Hypothetical

 

The owner of the Acme Widget Company attends a workers’ compensation seminar and learns about the benefits of wellness programs in the workplace.  After returning, he installs a basketball hoop and buys a ball for employee’s to use while on their lunch break.  Postings about the basketball hoop were posted in common spaces and the owner strongly encouraged all employees play during their break times.

 

After the installation, the employees were excited.  A “one on one” league soon formed and the owner administered it.  Shortly thereafter, John Doe, the chief widget engineer, injured his knee why playing.  Is the injury compensable?

 

In Hemmler v. WCAB-Clarks Summit State Hospital, 569 A.2d 395 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990), the following injury was found to be compensable.  Like anything, these cases are fact dependent.  Central to the court’s review were the following issues:

 

  • Did the injury take place while the employee was engaged in the furtherance of the employer’s business or affairs?

 

  • Was the injury caused by a condition of the employer’s premises that was a required part of the employee’s employment at the time of the injury?

 

 

Avoiding Work Comp Issues While Promoting Wellness

 

Promoting wellness within the workplace can create a double-edged sword for employers.  Liability will not be ignored in many instances even though the concept of healthy living and better health are a noble cause.  Proactive stakeholders can take the following steps to avoid liability from injuries suffered when employees engage in wellness-related programming.

 

In reviewing cases that involve injuries while engaging in workplace wellness programs, courts will generally examine whether the activity in question “furthers” the business or affairs of the employer.  Because wellness programs reduce workers’ compensation costs, courts have found the requisite connection between the work activities and an injury to uphold compensability and force the payment of various workers’ compensation benefits in certain instances.

 

  • Avoid dictating specific wellness activities during the workday: Courts have consistently found that direct employer mandates in the form of exercise can make injuries compensable.  Making generic or benign statements about wellness and not prescribing its preferred form of exercise or activity and reduce exposure in workers’ compensation matters.

 

  • Mandated performance of wellness activities. It is important to give employees the option to participate in wellness or other health program activities.  It is important to note that when managers and supervisors require or otherwise pressure employees to participate, resulting injuries are compensable under a workers’ compensation act.  Interested stakeholders seeking to minimize their exposure may consider using a third-party service provider to promote and provide information to employees about a wellness program.

 

  • Avoid hosting wellness program activities during the workday or while someone is scheduled to work. Wellness events and engaging in healthy activities is something that should take place every day.  An interested stakeholder can minimize their exposure by encouraging employees to engage in wellness activities during their personal time and away from the employers premise.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Encouraging wellness within the workplace has many positive benefits.  This should not be overshadowed by the risks of employees sustaining injuries while engaging in these activities, and employers should be encouraged to implement wellness in the workplace.

 

However, the diligent risk manager should be aware of common pitfalls and implement a wellness program in a manner that avoids unnecessary risks and promotes a better bottom line.

 

 

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.

Smoking, Depression, and Substance Abuse Wellness Programs in Workers’ Comp

wellness in workers compensationIt has been proven many times that employers can reduce their workers’ compensation costs by investing in a wellness program.  Notwithstanding the imperial data that demonstrates the effectiveness of these programs, many interested stakeholders are resistant to them based on the perceived cost or other imaginary barriers when it comes to improving the health of their workforce.  Instead of focusing on these hurdles, thought leaders within the industry should focus on the bigger picture to reduce costs in their programs.

 

 

Smoking Cessation Programs

 

Notwithstanding nationwide efforts to curb smoking, tobacco use remains a popular habit in millions of Americans.  It is well-documented that smoking and the use of its other forms, including smokeless tobacco have significant negative health consequences.  These include many common issues Americans struggle with such as cancer, heart disease and other respiratory problems.  The use of tobacco also reduces the effectiveness of physical rehabilitation and healing following a work-injury.

 

Access to smoking cessation programs is now more affordable following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Under the ACA, all qualifying individual and group health plans are required to include these programs as an “essential health benefit.”  This means that health plans must allow participants access to programs and services with no copay.

 

Changes in health care have also had a positive impact on people who remain without insurances.  In many instances, employers have taken the initiative to provide their employees, regardless of health instance coverage, access to programs that assist people kick the habit.  This also includes access to patches, gum and other devices that promote smoking cessation.

 

 

Depression and Mental Health Awareness

 

Americans as a who have also become more sensitive to mental health related issues.  This includes greater access to care and parity of coverage when compared to treatment to physical ailments and injuries.  The essence of the awakening and change in attitudes is better resources for employees to receive the care they need.

 

While Americans now have more options when it comes to purchasing health insurance, many remain without.  This has led to opportunities for proactive employers to provide resources when it comes to psychological and psychiatric issues.  This includes:

 

  • Training for employees on how to recognize a coworker suffering from a mental health related issue;

 

  • Greater access to mental health care and services, including treatment by specialists; and

 

  • Easily accessible outreach programs such as supportive and non-judgmental telephonic services for thoughts struggling with mental health needs.

 

 

Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment

 

Use and abuse of substances, included those that are legal, can have a negative impact on the workplace.  This includes decreased productivity, diminished service of customers and injury.  Failure to address these issues in the context of a workers’ compensation program can only hurt the bottom line and dramatically increase costs.

 

Proactive employers need to take this issue seriously.  This starts with the implementation of a substance abuse policy that is consistently applied.  It must also apply to all employees, regardless of their position within a company.

 

It is also important for employers to assist employees who may use and abuses these substances.  This includes the following methods to implement:

 

  • Reporting of substance abuse issues within the workplace via confidential means;

 

  • Drug testing that is performed in a manner consistent with state and federal laws; and

 

  • Resources such as help lines and other medical/mental health professionals who can assist employees impacted by use/abuse issues.

 

 

Conclusions

 

There are many benefits to any workers’ compensation program when interested stakeholders look for creative and cost-effective measures to improve employee wellness.  They not only cut down on the frequency or injuries within the workplace, but they have many other benefits.  Among these include an increase in morale and reduce turnover.  The bottom line also includes lower workers’ compensation program costs.

 

 

 

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.

3 Times to Consider the ADA in Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation claims professionals and other interested stakeholders face many challenges in their programs.  One important challenge is running a program that is consistent with the applicable workers’ compensation act and not conflicting with the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Act.  Failing to understand this matter can result in serious legal consequences and impact your bottom line.

 

 

What is the ADA?

 

The ADA is codified under 42 U.S.C. §12101, and is an important civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.  It was enacted in 1990 and laid the groundwork for greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in American society, which includes those suffering from a work-related injury.

 

There are many legal nuances to this law, so it is important to consult an attorney if you have questions.  Areas of concern as outlined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) include:

 

  • Whether a person with an occupational injury has a disability as defined by the ADA;

 

  • Disability-related questions and medical examinations relating to occupational injury and workers’ compensation claims;

 

  • Hiring practices concerning a person with a history of occupational injury, return to work of persons with occupational injury, and application of the direct threat standard;

 

  • Reasonable accommodation for persons with disability-related occupational injuries;

 

  • Light duty issues; and

 

  • Exclusive remedy provisions in workers’ compensation laws.

 

 

3 Times to Consider the ADA in Workers’ Compensation

 

Employers and other interested stakeholders need to understand the value anyone with a disability has and how it can impact the work environment in a positive manner.  Contrary to popular belief, people who may be disabled want to work as it provides a number of intangibles that benefit morale and self-worth.

 

Keeping this in mind, employers need to consider the following touchpoints in their hiring and workers’ compensation programs:

 

 

Pre-employment:

 

All hiring polices need to comply with the ADA and its mandate of non-discrimination.  Asking potential new hires about disabilities or work restrictions many result in legal action.  It is also important to keep in mind that a disability is not limited to physical barriers.  Various mental health conditions can qualified as a covered disability under the Act.

 

Issues concerning drug testing also come into play under the ADA.  As a general rule, employers can ask all applicants to submit to a drug test as part of the pre-employment process.

 

 

Post-work injury:

 

Employee’s suffering from a work injury can also be covered under the ADA.  A common misconception is the ADA only applies when an employee reaches MMI, this is incorrect. A person injured at work can immediately be considered a “qualified individual with a disability”. At the time of injury a referral to HR and a discussion, referred to as the “interactive process” regarding reasonable accommodations must occur.

 

Additional areas of concern include job search requirements, return-to-work/employment transitions and light duty.  Employers should work with various professionals within their organization when crafting a return-to-work plan and requires modified job duties or positions.  Additional considerations should also be given to time off from work to attend medical appointments, etc.

 

 

Post-injury Termination of Employment:

 

Problems also arise following a work injury when the employee’s position is eliminated or that individual is terminated.  It is important to document all steps that are taken and involve legal counsel.  Employers should also involve specialized counsel if they are requesting a global settlement of a workers’ compensation claim that involves a voluntary resignation of employment and release of all claims.  Issues to consider include a separate employment release and monetary consideration beyond what is paid for workers’ compensation benefits.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Workers’ compensation claims are complex and require an understanding of the law.  The ADA is an important consideration for those involved in handling claims and the myriad of associated issues.

 

 

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.

Impact of OSHA’s New Electronic Recordkeeping Rule On Employers & Their TPAs

 

This Interview with Broadspire’s CEO Danielle Lisenbey was originally published in Crawford’s On the FrontLine Magazine – Spring 2017

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a final rule in 2017 requiring employers that must record workplace injuries and illnesses for OSHA to submit reports of such incidents electronically. For the first time, OSHA will post on its website establishment-specific data, rather than only aggregated industry data. The goal is to encourage employers to identify workplace hazards and improve their safety records. We ask Broadspire’s Danielle Lisenbey for her views.

 

 

What does OSHA’s new rule mean for employers and TPAs?

 

OSHA has long required employers to keep a log of certain workplace incidents that result in injury or illness. That basic recordkeeping requirement is not new, but what is new is that OSHA is now asking employers to submit certain forms electronically. That will greatly facilitate the administration’s ability to make employer specific data publicly available. Employers and their third-party administrators (TPAs), including Broadspire, will work closely to make sure the appropriate data is submitted to comply with all applicable OSHA rules. Our mantra as a TPA is “early reporting and early intervention lead to better outcomes.” The new OSHA rule ultimately ties into that.

 

 

Which industries are primarily affected by the new electronic tracking rule?

 

The new recordkeeping rule applies to a significant number of  employers. Under the final rule, employers with 250 or more employees that are required to maintain OSHA injury and illness records must submit their logs, summaries of injuries and illnesses, and  incident reports.

 

Employers with 20 to 249 employees in industries classified as having high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses must submit an electronic summary report. Industries on OSHA’s list include construction, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and others – all of which are important sources of employment and productivity.

 

Industries that OSHA considers to have lower injury rates, which include insurance and financial services, and some retail businesses, are partially exempt from such reporting. The reality is, however, that OSHA’s new rule will cover a large number of U.S. employers and their workers.

 

 

How does Broadspire see this new rule benefiting employers and workers?

 

The intent of OSHA’s new final rule is to increase workplace safety and motivate employers to reduce injury and illness  for  their workers.  That is a noble goal and we not only support it; it is at the heart of our business.

 

Broadspire exists to help employers reduce claims frequency and severity. We believe that the more data an employer has, the better it can plan ahead and mitigate situations that can cause injury or illness. OSHA’s new rule will make more workplace data accessible, which will encourage employers to focus more attention on the causes of occupational injuries and illnesses. That’s a positive thing for  all concerned.

 

Workers will benefit because they will be healthier and safer. Employers will benefit from reduced downtime and increased productivity, which in turn will benefit communities through economic growth. Truly, improving workplace safety pays big dividends, well beyond an employer’s door.

 

 

What are the downsides or unintended consequences of the new OSHA rule?

 

Some observers have expressed concern that online publication of employer-specific reports could create cyber exposures, increase litigation and might even discourage some employers from tracking minor incidents to artificially improve their safety results. While public disclosure may not be the preferred method to motivate employers to improve safety, greater transparency and competitiveness are likely to accelerate changes.

 

It is our belief that the vast majority of employers required to report to OSHA will submit injury and illness reports fully and accurately. We also believe that the general population of employers will see the data points as helpful to keeping them focused on the big picture, which is to make workplaces safer. We certainly hope that OSHA has considered the implications of this final rule and will swiftly address any problems should they arise.

 

 

What is Broadspire doing to help prepare its clients to comply with the rule?

 

Broadspire is deeply invested in helping employers to improve their claim outcomes and to reduce the costs of workplace injury, illness and disability. Early access to data is key, and TPAs can step up and help employers build out their data sets.

 

Between the data and benchmarking that we provide, and the reports that OSHA intends to make available, the ultimate objective is to reduce loss costs for the employer and improve the care of the injured worker. It’s a win-win for both employer and employee. Compliance is a big part of what we do every day for our clients, and we are having ongoing conversations with our clients to ensure they submit the appropriate data to OSHA by the July 1, 2017, deadline.

 

Read more On the FrontLine Magazine.

 

 

Danielle Lisenbey, Broadspire President & CEO. As president and CEO, Lisenbey’s goal is to make Broadspire the number one choice for companies seeking claim, disability and medical management services to help increase their employee productivity and contain costs. On the road to excellence, however, Lisenbey knows you don’t have to sacrifice integrity for achievement. She believes in always doing the right thing. Although tough when called for, she prides herself on being fair and demonstrating integrity in everything that she does.  https://choosebroadspire.com/us/

3 Actions to Weed Out Marijuana-Related Workers’ Comp Challenges

The trend of legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use is growing and may soon affect nearly all states. The recent election brought the number of ‘medical marijuana’ states to 28 plus the District of Columbia; while eight states now allow it for recreational use. Add to that the fact that several states have seen cases that allow injured workers to obtain the drug through their workers’ comp systems, and you’ve got a veritable nightmare for employers — especially those in multiple jurisdictions.

 

But employers don’t have to sit by and watch your workforce go up in smoke. You can — and should — take steps to keep your workers, property and the business itself safe.

 

 

Drug testing

 

The most effective way to prevent drug-related workplace injuries and illnesses is to avoid hiring drug users. While passing a drug test certainly doesn’t guarantee an employee won’t use marijuana or other drugs down the road, it is at least a way to eliminate habitual users from entering your workforce.

 

Even in states where marijuana is legal — for medicinal or recreational purposes — private employers still have the right to test conditionally-hired job applicants. How you handle a positive test result, however, likely differs among states; so it behooves you to understand the laws in your jurisdiction.

 

Beyond pre-employment testing, employers may also do drug testing randomly, based on reasonable suspicion, for return-to-work screening and post-accident. OSHA’s new injury reporting rule has raised many questions about whether employers that conduct post-accident drug testing may run afoul of the agency.

 

OSHA has tried to clarify the confusion by saying drug testing policies should be limited to situations where drug use is “likely to have contributed” to the incident, and for which the test can “accurately identify impairment.” Injuries such as bee stings, repetitive strain injuries or one caused by a machine malfunction would not qualify for mandatory testing, under OSHA’s explanation. Federal drug testing has not changed.

 

There are generally three types of drug tests:

 

  • Urinalysis. The first and still most widely used, this is less expensive than some other test methods. It detects most drug use for the previous 2–3 days and is the only type allowed for federal testing. On the downside, it is easily manipulated and cannot measure the frequency of drug use.
  • Oral fluid. These are collected under supervision, making tampering impossible. It determines drug use for up to 48 hours and is generally inexpensive. It also does not measure frequency of use.
  • Hair. Perhaps the best for pre-employment tests, as its detection window is generally 3 months. However, it is the most expensive type of test. Also, it typically takes longer — up to 10 days versus 1 or 2 — for the results.

 

 

Create/Update Drug-Free Workplace Policy

 

Lower job performance, reduced productivity, absenteeism and higher workers’ comp costs are among the results of workers who abuse drugs. As an employer, you are obligated to provide a safe work environment for all employees. Those are among the biggest reasons to have a workplace drug and alcohol policy — and communicate it clearly to your workers. A policy can include the following:

 

  • Basic assumptions. The policy should spell out why the company is establishing it, what is expected of employees and the consequences for violations, including dismissal.
  • Broad statement. The policy should clarify that employees may not perform their job duties under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or mind-altering prescription medications — including marijuana. In states where marijuana is legal you should include a section with clear guidelines devoted to that drug.
  • Drug testing. If your company conducts drug tests, that should be included with the specific procedures outlined. It should also say that workers with prescribed medical marijuana may not use the drug while at work. The policy should be similar to that for narcotic prescriptions.

 

Workers in states that have medical and/or recreational marijuana laws on the books are likely confused about their rights to the drug in the workplace. Therefore, you should train supervisors on it and ensure all employees understand it. Employee handbooks, posters, intranet messages and other technology-related approaches are ways to disseminate the policy.

 

 

Know the law

 

Before drafting or changing a policy you need to understand the specifics of all the jurisdictions in which you operate. Much like the workers’ comp system itself, marijuana laws vary by state. Statutes may have vastly different provisions, especially when it comes to the workplace.

 

In states where the drug is legal, courts have taken different actions as to whether marijuana is reimbursable through the workers’ comp system. Following several court rulings, New Mexico passed a reimbursement rule.

 

In other states, however, laws say workers’ comp payers are not compelled to pay for the drug. They include Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, New York, Oregon and Vermont.

In some states, employers that can prove the drug is the cause of a work-related injury are off the hook for reimbursement. In others, the injured worker may be entitled to payment even if the drug caused the accident.

 

Summary.

The laws surrounding marijuana are changing rapidly. Employers are well advised to stay abreast of this constantly changing situation through legislation and case law; review and update workplace substance abuse policies often; and consider drug testing — at least for pre-hiring.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

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.

9 Steps to Foster a Mentally Healthy Workplace

Mental health, especially depression is one of the leading causes of workplace absenteeism and lost productivity.  Estimates are that around $12 billion in lost workdays annually are attributed to depression-related illnesses. Injured workers are often susceptible to depression, especially those who have been prone to it previously.

 

There are a variety of factors that can lead to depression; life events, physical conditions, medication, stress and lack of sleep. The workplace itself can by a source of, or exacerbate depression — unless employers take a proactive approach to the issue.

 

Employers can help their employees and their own bottom lines by promoting a culture of overall well-being, encouraging personal growth and empowerment among workers, and ensuring benefits adequately address mental health needs.

 

 

Workplace Environment

 

A culture of wellness that includes emotional and mental health can go a long way toward reducing the stigma attached, leading workers to get the help they need sooner.

 

  1. Inclusive language. Mention of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health-related conditions should be as common as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The environment should be one that supports and encourages people to seek help. People suffering are more likely do so when they feel supported rather than embarrassed.

 

  1. Engage leaders. Managers and other supervisors should be trained to use language that does not project negative attitudes about mental health issues. They should also understand how to identify emotional distress and respond promptly and constructively to behavioral performance issues.

 

  1. Provide information. The entire workforce should be educated about mental health issues. Your workers’ comp insurer and/or third-party administrator can help with various programs.

 

  1. Work/life balance. Time off for rest and relaxation is essential to a balanced life. Employers should provide adequate vacation time and consider a policy that encourages, if not mandates it be taken. Also, companies should make sure the workload is not continuously extreme, as a large workload without adequate time to complete tasks is viewed as a big stressor among many workers..

 

 

Personal Development

 

  1. Encouragement and support. Employees should have access to a variety of opportunities to improve their competencies, as it helps them with their current positions and can prepare them for promotional opportunities, and acquiring new skills and career development has been shown to enhance well-being. Learning new personal and interpersonal skills also contributes to a person’s overall psyche.

 

  1. Recognition. Everyone likes to be appreciated for a job well done. Employers should acknowledge such employees, whether through financial rewards, time off, or just celebrations during the workday. Such actions help build self-esteem and motivate workers to exceed expectations.

 

  1. Inclusion. Where possible, include workers in decisions about how work is done, whether their own or the organization as a whole. Encouraging workers to ask questions, suggest new ideas and provide feedback gives them a sense of pride in the workplace. Employees who have input into their work lives feel more empowered and have improved morale, along with psychological wellbeing.

 

 

Benefits

 

Individuals with depression and other emotional challenges can be valued employees — if they get the help they need. As an employer, you can make sure workers know where and how to seek help.

 

  1. Employee Assistance Programs. While many larger companies have Employee Assistance Programs, few employees actually use the services. Many don’t know they exist or understand how to access them. If your company has an EAP, make sure your employees are well informed about what is included and how to access the offerings.

 

  1. Health insurance. If your company offers health insurance, review it to see if and to what extent mental health programs and services are included. Where possible, make any necessary changes to foster engagement by workers, especially for early intervention. Educate workers about your health insurer’s mental health services through an intranet, pamphlets, and meetings from an insurer representative. If there are no mental health benefits included for workers, learn about community resources and inform workers about them.

 

Mental illnesses cost employers through direct and indirect costs and can be significant. Make sure your company does everything possible to encourage workers with depression or other mental health challenges to seek help early.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

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.

Freeze Out Workers Comp Costs By Preventing Cold Stress Claims

Serious and even fatal conditions can result from cold stress. Any worker can be affected by cold stress, even those in near- freezing temperatures if they are not used to cold weather. New workers and those returning after time away are also at a high risk of cold stress.

 

Among those most at risk are construction workers, recreational workers, snow cleanup crews, emergency responders, transit workers, baggage handlers, and workers in water transportation, landscaping and support activities for oil and gas operations.

 

Cold stress happens when skin temperature and ultimately the body’s internal temperature are reduced to the point that the body cannot warm itself. Both the air temperature and wind speed can play a part. Permanent tissue damage and death can occur.

 

The factors that put workers at an increased risk for cold stress include:

  • Wetness, improper clothing, exhaustion.
  • Comorbid health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism and diabetes.
  • Poor physical shape.

 

Employers should train workers to understand the types of cold stress, recognize the symptoms and know what to do to prevent it and help those affected. Frequent, short breaks in warm, dry areas go a long way to ensuring workers are not exposed too long. Warm beverages should be provided to outdoor workers, such as coffee or tea. And employees should be instructed to work in pairs rather than alone.

 

Here’s a look at the most common types of cold stress.

 

 

Frostbite.

 

Caused by the freezing of the skin and tissues, this can cause permanent damage and even lead to amputation. Symptoms include reddened skin that develops gray-white patches, especially in the fingers, toes, nose or ear lobes. The person may feel tingling, aching or a loss of feeling, and may develop blisters. People with reduced blood circulation and/or those not dressed adequately for cold temperatures are more susceptible to frostbite.

 

The affected area should be wrapped loosely in a dry cloth until medical help arrives, and the worker should be given warm, sweetened drinks. Anyone helping a worker with frostbite should be instructed not to rub the affected area, apply snow or water, or try to rewarm the area. A frostbitten area that is rewarmed and becomes frozen again can cause additional tissue damage.

 

 

Immersion/Trench Foot.

 

Prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions can lead to trench foot, even in temperatures as high as 60 degrees. Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. Symptoms include reddening skin, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness and blisters.

 

The worker’s wet shoes and socks should be removed, and the feet should be dried and elevated until medical help is available.

 

 

Hypothermia.

 

Also called abnormally low body temperature, this occurs when the body temperature drops to less than 95 degrees. It generally occurs at very cold temperatures, but can affect someone in temperatures above 40 degrees if the worker is chilled from rain, sweat or immersion in cold water.

 

Uncontrollable shivering is one of the more mild symptoms. More severe ones are loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, slow heart rate and breathing, and unconsciousness. A body temperature that is too low affects the brain and the person may be unaware that anything is wrong.

 

First aid remedies call for alerting medical emergency workers immediately. Until help arrives, coworkers are advised to move the worker to a warm, dry area; remove and replace wet clothing; and wrap the entire body in layers of blankets. Warm bottles or hot packs can be placed in the armpits, sides of the chest and groin.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Employers can help keep these workers safe and healthy by providing heaters at worksites, allowing employees to take breaks to warm up, and offering warm beverages. Simple steps such as these can greatly reduce winter-related workers’ comp costs.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

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

Eliminate Most Frequent Cause of Seasonal Workers Comp Claims

Winter weather is upon us (at the time of this writing it’s 8 degrees in Kennebunkport, ME), and that often means an increase in claims. However, many winter weather claims are preventable. Whether it’s a slip/trip/fall, electrocution from using unfamiliar snow-removal equipment, or a temperature-related ailment such as trench foot, simple precautions can often protect workers — and your bottom line.

 

While you might not have control over the weather, you can at least control the risks faced by your employees. And you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot to reduce or even eliminate many weather-related workers’ comp claims.

 

Here’s a look at how to prevent the most frequent — and preventable — cause of seasonal claims.

 

Slippery Slopes

 

Icy, wet pavement and floors can wreak havoc for workers. Whether inside or outside, employers should seek to have the driest, safest surfaces for their employees.

 

Clear Snow & Ice

The most obvious solution for preventing slip and fall injuries in winter is to make sure snow and ice are cleared from all walkable surfaces and salt or other deicing material is laid down.

 

This includes sidewalks, entryways and parking lots. While state laws vary on whether injuries in outdoor areas are compensable through workers’ comp, making them safer can protect your employees as well as vendors and other visitors to your facility.

 

Place Signage Warning of Slippery Floors

In areas such as doorways, it’s also smart to place signage warning of slippery floors. Absorbent mats are another method to help keep inside walkways dry.  Good lighting should also be considered for areas where floors and pavements can be slippery.

 

Instruct Workers To Wear Footwear With Good Traction

Workers who are more likely to be outside should be given, or instructed to wear footwear with good traction, such as slip resistant shoes or boots. They should also be informed that taking shorter steps and walking slower will help them react better to sudden slippery spots.

 

Place Ladders Only On Cleared Surfaces

Workers who have to be on elevated surfaces, such as roof tops need to take extra precautions. They should be provided and trained on fall protection methods. Ladders should be placed only on surfaces that have been cleared of snow and ice. Where possible, outside vendors should be employed to remove snow from roofs and other areas.

 

Conclusion

Employers should try to avoid sending workers outside in frigid temperatures and where snow or ice is problematic. Scheduling work for the warmest part of the day is advisable. For employees who must work outside, they should be trained about the injuries and illnesses that can affect them and understand the hazards of any equipment they may use, such as snow blowers.

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.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 More Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

As reported in yesterday’s blog “4 Keys to a Healthier Workforce”, comorbidities in your workforce add significant costs in workers’ compensation claims.  While our New Year’s resolutions are still alive, take action today to consider these 4 more keys to a healthier workforce:

 

Lifestyle Management Programs

 

Employers can do a variety of things to get people moving. In addition to such things as workshops on various wellness issues, companies can allow breaks for workers to engage in physical activities. Or set up walking or other exercise programs. Smoking cessation programs can be done either onsite, or at a local hospital or other community facility.

 

Convenience

 

Getting employees to participate in wellness programs is nearly impossible if it’s not easy for them to be involved. Third shift workers, for example, might feel left out of group activities that take place during the day. Using technology such as internal websites and mobile apps, can help these workers feel more involved. Encouraging workers to eat better can be made easier by providing healthy snacks onsite, such as in vending machines and during meetings.

 

Fun

 

Employees are much more inclined to participate in wellness activities if they enjoy them. Competitive teams can be established to challenge one another to walk X number of miles, or to lose the most weight in a given time period.

 

Confidentiality / Privacy

 

Many employees are concerned their health information may get into the wrong hands, causing them embarrassment or even to lose their jobs. Any health related information provided to the employer needs to be in the aggregate, with no indication a health issue is related to a specific individual.

 

Research shows for every $1 spent on wellness programs, the cost of medical care is reduced overall by $3 to $4 – an excellent return on investment an employer cannot ignore. Ref. Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings

 

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

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

Professional Development Resource

Learn How to Reduce Workers Comp Costs 20% to 50%"Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%"
Lower your workers compensation expense by using the
guidebook from Advisen and the Workers Comp Resource Center.
Perfect for promotional distribution by brokers and agents!
Learn More

Please don't print this Website

Unnecessary printing not only means unnecessary cost of paper and inks, but also avoidable environmental impact on producing and shipping these supplies. Reducing printing can make a small but a significant impact.

Instead use the PDF download option, provided on the page you tried to print.

Powered by "Unprintable Blog" for Wordpress - www.greencp.de