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.

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.

4 Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

Comorbidities may be costing you a bundle. There’s overwhelming research that shows employees with certain health conditions are more likely to get injured on the job, and then take longer to heal and return to work. Consider the following effect on workers’ compensation:

 

  • Diabetes average workers’ comp medical costs 5x higher
  • Smokers are 40% more likely to have a work injury
  • Obesity is associated with 2x likelihood of a workplace injury, 7x higher workers’ comp medical costs, and 13x more days away from work

 

Employers can take a multitude of actions to help workers become healthier. And now’s a good time, as many people put ‘a healthier lifestyle’ atop their New Year’s resolution lists.

 

 

Wellness Programs

 

An effective wellness program can not only save money, but it can expand the bottom line through increased productivity from healthier workers. However, employers need to understand it is a long-term investment and the return might not be seen for several years.

 

Companies of any size can implement some type of wellness program. In fact, a recent survey showed more than half of employers with at least 50 employees have adopted a program. Most important is to make sure the program is specific to the company’s culture and needs. That said, there are several elements that can help result in a successful wellness program.

 

 

4 Keys To A Healthier Workforce Through Wellness

 

Executive Buy-In

 

Getting employees to participate in a wellness program has to start at the top. C-suite executives need to be engaged or the effort will have little chance of success.

 

Senior managers need to understand the business case that prevention can reduce injuries and mean more money for the organization. Larger companies may have the advantage of being able to use claims data and health plan utilization showing healthier workers have fewer claims and shorter recoveries. For smaller companies, information from organizations such as NCCI or WCRI can help make the case. There is also publicly available evidence from OSHA and NIOSH.

 

 

Goals

 

A look at various company records and reports — absenteeism, productivity, health insurance costs and biometric screening, for example, can help determine what types of things are needed for a company. Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and relevant, and time based. Goals can be set by a group of workers representing many or all departments and at all levels to help ensure employee buy-in to the program. The group can be a formalized wellness team, in which each participant has various roles and responsibilities.

 

 

Integration With Safety

 

Reducing workplace injuries and improving overall employee health should go hand-in-hand with safety programs. Breaking down silos can expedite the effectiveness of both programs. Departments should be instructed to share information and resources. In larger companies, that means departments involved in any aspect of health benefits and health protection should communicate.

 

 

Communication and Education

 

Newsletters, emails, and posters are among the ways employers can let employees know about all the various components of the wellness program. They can also be used to help instruct workers on healthy lifestyle changes they can make. For example, low-calorie does not necessarily equal healthier foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. People who understand how to read food labels are more inclined to buy food that offers good nutrition. Various health recipes can also be included, along with information on the importance of, and how to get a good night’s sleep.

 

When effective, wellness programs can reap significant financial benefits for companies, such as reduced injury rates and the number of lost work days. The key is to get buy-in by working with employees throughout the organization.

 

 

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.

Quit Gaining…Weight, That is. Diet and Health Go Hand-In-Hand

Weight Gain Weight gain can put your health at risk. A couple pounds a year can add up to an increased BMI over time. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports that excessive weight and obesity can put you at risk for all of the following:

 

  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Abnormal Blood Fats
  • Metabolic Syndrome (the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke)
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome
  • Reproductive Problems
  • Gallstones

 

Read on for three simple tricks that don’t include a gym membership or a diet plan, but these tips do promote weight loss.

 

  • Size does matter when it comes to weight loss. Stop supersizing your meals. Order smaller sizes. Serve and eat your food on small plates. People automatically eat fewer calories when they reach for the tiny plate. Leave a bit of each meal behind, or grab a plate that is a contrasting color to your food; this can serve as a stop signal. Studies show that these quick tricks may reduce calories, which can lead to weight loss over time.

 

  • Skip the midnight snack. No more late night eating. Give yourself an “eating curfew.” Food is fuel, and there’s no need to load up on carbohydrates before you hit the hay. There is research that suggests nighttime eating may lead to weight gain.

 

  • Swap out grain breakfast selections with a protein rich option. Find ways to swap out a refined carb breakfast with a protein rich option. Protein rich options include eggs, nuts, seeds, beans or fish. Limit processed protein (e.g. deli meat, protein shakes) and red meat choices. Abandon beliefs that you can only eat certain foods at certain times. It’s acceptable to eat a salad in the morning for breakfast, or an omelet for dinner. Research demonstrates beefing up your healthy protein intake may increase satiety and promote maintenance of your current body weight.

 

References:

British Heart Foundation – Portion Distortion report

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/4/900.full

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1558S.long

 

Author: Heather Klaus, Medcor, Wellness Program Manager. Heather oversees Medcor’s internal wellness program for nearly 900 associates nationwide.  She also develops and supports wellness programs for Medcor clients.  Heather is a regular author and contributor to health and wellness blogs, videos and newsletters.  Heather holds a Bachelor’s in Science from Northern Illinois University in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a certified trainer, fitness instructor and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant.  http://www.medcor.com.  Contact: heather.klaus@medcor.com

Overweight and Underpaid: Weight Discrimination at Work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that over 50% of the variation in people’s health was related to social factors – such as income and race – a revelation which has shocked many as some commonly assumed that health behaviors had the largest impact. This finding shows that health diseases like obesity are not solely caused by eating habits, but also factors such as low-incomes. Despite these low-incomes, this infographic shows that obese individuals spend 42% more on health care costs than healthy weight people, putting them in a tremendously vicious cycle.

 

The following infographic, created by Eastern Kentucky University’s, takes a closer look at the issues and prejudices overweight individuals face in the workplace.

 

We’ve Got Your Back… Exercise: Some Motivation Required

Back pain is a common complaint and can happen for various reasons.  Science is not certain of the exact recipe to heal back pain. Research on different modes of rehab and training designed to help back- pain sufferers is on-going.

 

Building a strong and balanced back may be protective. Surprisingly, your consistent attendance in Pilates class along with your chiseled abs and back may not shield you from back pain.

 

Overall conditioning of your core muscles may safeguard you from future injury. Core muscles refer to a person’s trunk, back, glutes, hips, abductors and abdominal muscles.

 

Conditioning includes walking with correct posture and balance exercises, along with range of motion and strengthening activities. These components, collectively, factor into protecting your back.

 

Best Back Practice:

 

  • Walk or regularly engage in some other physical activity.

 

  • Proper postural alignment influences moving with ease.

 

  • Sensory-motor control training may be as important as strengthening or endurance of the trunk muscles when building a strong base.

 

  • Yoga is good practice for strengthening, flexibility and pain management.

 

  • Strengthening the pelvic and trunk muscles plays a role in core stability.

 

You should consult your primary care provider before starting a new exercise routine, to be sure you are healthy enough to pursue a workout regimen. Once you are cleared for exercise, consider adding the following to your daily routine to build a solid foundation. And remember, if you feel pain– STOP!

 

Walking:

Walking (with proper form) at a moderate-intense level for as little as six minutes daily may benefit your back. Read on for details on proper posture.

 

Postural  Alignment:

The  National Osteoporosis  Foundation  describes proper standing posture as keeping your head high, chin in and shoulder blades slightly pinched together. Maintain the natural arch of your lower back as you gently contract your abdomen inward, feet are pointed straight ahead with knees facing forward.

 

Sensory-Motor Control Training (SMC):

SMC is an approach to balance training. Stages of SMC include static, dynamic and functional. Perform your balance exercises at home in a doorway for safety.

 

Static: Stand on one foot and look straight ahead, progress by closing your eyes or adding head movements.

Dynamic: Add arm and leg movement while standing on one foot. Try to main- tain a steady posture.

Functional: Try balancing on an un- stable surface such as a wobble board, furniture cushion, or sitting on a stability ball.

 

Be sure to perform the above exercises on each foot, up to 30 seconds, two times throughout the day.

 

Yoga, Stretching and Strengthening:

Try a beginner yoga class or basic strengthening group session, watch a video or download an app. Experiment with different activities to see what feels good.

 

References:

http://www.bjjprocs.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/88-B/SUPP_III/449.1

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24731894

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22850802

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24211698

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25529265

 

 

Author: Heather Klaus, Medcor, Wellness Program Manager. Heather oversees Medcor’s internal wellness program for nearly 900 associates nationwide.  She also develops and supports wellness programs for Medcor clients.  Heather is a regular author and contributor to health and wellness blogs, videos and newsletters.  Heather holds a Bachelor’s in Science from Northern Illinois University in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a certified trainer, fitness instructor and Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant.  http://www.medcor.com.  Contact: heather.klaus@medcor.com

Surviving Employee Wellness Initiatives

Healthcare reform in the United States has made employers and stakeholders in workers’ compensation program focus on the wellness of their employees.  While these are important objectives and improve employee satisfaction, it is important to take note that injuries occurring during these events can be compensable.

 

Before implementing any program, it is important to understand your state’s workers’ compensation program and supporting case law.  Rules and regulations may also play a role.  Always consult an attorney before implementing wellness related programs within the workplace.

 

 

Parties and Employer Sponsored Events

 

Injuries that occur at these types of events can be compensable under a workers’ compensation law.  In most jurisdictions, the statute itself speaks to these issues, with some limits placed on the employee’s ability to seek compensation for injuries.  Courts have also scrutinized and interpreted these incidents, which include discussion on the following areas:

 

  • Whether the employer-sponsored event was truly “voluntary” in nature;
  • Information concerning how the event was communicated to employees; and
  • If the injury occurring at the event was “incidental” or “remote” to one’s employment.

 

Injuries occurring while setting up for and the clean up afterward have also held to be compensable.

 

 

Fitness and Recreational Events

 

These programs come in all forms: golf outings, walking programs and the company softball game.  Most state workers’ compensation acts address when injuries sustained in these events are compensable.  When reviewing these matters, courts typically scrutinize the following items:

 

  • The nature of the event and the “control” the employer had regarding the activity;
  • Application of ingress/egress principles, which cover the employee while on company property, or those of a “traveling employee” when events are hosted at off-site conference and retreat centers; and
  • The role of the employer in setting up a recreational event.  This can include providing equipment for employees to use, installing fixtures on company premises such as a basketball hoop and how the employer viewed these activities in the past.

 

Some of these issues are also common when it comes to company sponsored sporting teams.  Injuries sustained while participating in these events are generally compensable unless the state specific workers’ compensation act explicitly limits the liability of the employer.

 

 

Health and Wellness Promotions

 

These events can include employer-sponsored vaccinations and wellness programs for those seeking to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, or otherwise maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This area of workers’ compensation law is full of gray areas employers must consider when organizing programs to avoid unnecessary costs to their programs:

 

  • Events where the primary purpose is to focus on the employees’ physical, emotional or psychological well-being will typically not be compensable if the state has a “health program exception;” and
  • An inquiry as to whether the program or event is “incidental” to the employee’s employment.  If it is not, injuries will usually be compensable.

 

These issues are questions of fact for a compensation or administrative law judge to decide.  When defending these claims, it is important to conduct a complete investigation.  Laws concerning healthcare professionals and vaccinations are not covered under these laws given the nature of their work and contact with sick individuals.

 

 

Conclusions

 

In the modern workplace, it is important for employers to offer a variety of events that promote job satisfaction and workplace camaraderie.  When implementing wellness-oriented programs, it is important to understand how that event might influence your workers’ compensation exposure.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

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

 

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CDC Wants Public To Understand And Avoid Misuse Of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are designed for the treatment of bacterial infections. If used in an attempt to combat viral infections, like colds or the flu, the medications do nothing to treat these conditions. In fact, it may harm your body’s own immune system by killing off so-called “good” or protective bacteria. (Photo courtesy of cdc.gov.)

Antibiotics are designed for the treatment of bacterial infections. If used in an attempt to combat viral infections, like colds or the flu, the medications do nothing to treat these conditions. In fact, it may harm your body’s own immune system by killing off so-called “good” or protective bacteria. (Photo courtesy of cdc.gov.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants everyone to know that taking antibiotics when they are unwarranted can be harmful.

 

Antibiotics are drugs that treat only bacterial infections. Viral illnesses and their symptoms cannot and should not be treated with antibiotics.

 

 

Why should you care? 

 

Improper use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistant strains of germs. Resistant germs are stronger, and much more difficult to destroy.

 

This means that when antibiotics are ultimately needed, it may require more of them, or far more expensive varieties of antibiotics, injections or even hospital-ization in order to combat these resistant strains. These resistant strains are collections of super germs that, formerly, could have readily been handled through conventional antibiotic treatments.

 

In some cases, antibiotic resistant infections can cause severe illnesses that can no longer be treated with antibiotics.

 

Antibiotics can also upset the body’s natural balance by killing off the protective (good) bacteria. This results in complications like diarrhea, yeast infections and other dangerous infections.

 

 

Question…

 

Can antibiotics be used in an attempt to knock out a runny nose (yellow and/or green mucus)?

 

 

Answer…

 

No.  Here’s why—when colds infect the nose and sinuses, the body produces clear mucus to help to get rid of the germs. When your body sends out an army of biological germ fighters called immune cells to attack the germs in the affected area, the mucus changes to a white or yellow color.

 

So, if that is the case, then where does the green-colored mucus come from?

 

When bacteria that typically live in the nose grow back, their arrival is marked by the greenish colored mucus.

 

Antibiotics will NOT…

 

  • Cure viral illness. Viral illness causes colds, flu, some ear infections and most coughs, bronchitis, sore throats and sinus infections.
  • Help you feel better.
  • Help you get back to work faster.
  • Stop the spread of viral illness.

 

 

Author Gregg Cognac, PA-C, Clinical Affairs Director, Medcor is a certified Physician Assistant, and works with Medcor’s medical directors to provide oversight and support for on-site clinic staff in more than 170 locations nationwide.  Gregg earned his degree in PA studies from Midwest University in 1999, then completed post-graduate training in Emergency Medicine culminating in a Master’s degree.  Gregg’s clinical experienced has been in Emergency Medicine, Occupational Medicine and Cardiology.  Gregg contributes to policy and service development, QA, training, and other clinical support for clinic staff operating in a wide range of industries. http://medcor.com.  Contact: gregg.cognac@medcor.com

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