The Role of the Risk Manager in Workers Compensation Cost Containment

 

What is the Role of a Risk Manager?

 

A risk manager is responsible for a broad array of duties as the company sets up a workers’ compensation management program. To reduce costs, the risk manager should closely monitor the implementation of the program. Naturally, the responsibilities depend on the size of the department and amount of assistance that is provided.

 

Tips on What a Risk Manager Should Do:

 

  1. Determine the type of claims administrationarrangement. The risk manager needs to determine whether the type of claims administration you have is the right fit for your company and not take a one-size-fits all approach. The risk manager should perform an individualized assessment of your company’s strengths and needs to determine what arrangement works best for you.

 

  1. Ensure the adjuster-to-claim ratio is appropriatefor adjusters responding to your claims to get your workers back to productive employment faster. The risk manager needs to determine whether the adjuster has too many claims to process yours fast enough to keep your costs down.

 

  1. Consider whether your claims volume requires dedicated staff. The risk manager should assess whether the amount of workers’ compensation claims the company has requires one or more employees whose primary job function is to handle the workers’ compensation claims process.

 

  1. Follow claims administration’s best practicesto better comprehend the adjuster’s role. The risk manager should be up-to-date on the insurance industry’s standards and recommendations in claims handling to assess whether your procedures need to be updated.

 

  1. Make sure claims handling personnel are trained in injury managementconcepts so they can grasp the issues affecting your claims. The risk manager should make sure that personnel are familiar with the expected claims process, forms, medical terms, action plan, and potential issues. As your first-line defense, you want your claims handling personnel informed enough to spot issues that may arise.

 

  1. Visit an adjuster claims handling locationto see how your adjuster handles your files and view their claims operations first hand. There is no substitute for knowing exactly how your claim is being handled in the physical location where it is being processed.

 

  1. Attend associate seminars and meet with other industriesto observe how other organizations address workers’ compensation issues in today’s labor market.

 

  1. Maintain benchmarks for your professionshowing how potential savings generated by an effective injury management program far outweigh the initial costs of staffing.

 

 

 

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 author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Cavalcade of Risk, Number 168

Welcome everyone to the 168th edition of the Cavalcade of Risk. The Cavalcade of Risk (or Cav of Risk for short), as is implicated by the name, is a bi-weekly blog carnival that features the top articles regarding risk management. Several of the realms of risk management covered relate to finances, insurance, and health.

 

The Cavalcade this week is hosted and edited by My Personal Finance Journey.  



 Listed below are this week's Top 3 Editor's Picks! Enjoy!

1. 
Jeff Rose from Life Insurance by Jeff posted about Can You Get Life Insurance with a Depression History, saying, "When applying for life insurance, insurance companies take many things into consideration. One of the things they are most concerned about is the mortality rate of the applicant. What contributes to the mortality rate are the applicant’s lifestyle, health, pre-existing conditions, and mental health as well."


2. Insurance Coverage Law in Massachusetts posted about, Insurance as a kind of tax, and a foray into socialism and outside my area of expertise.


3. Jason Shafrin from the Healthcare Economist posted about, How does gaining Medicare coverage affect healthcare utilization?, saying, "Do the uninsured increase their utilization of health care services after becoming eligible for Medicare. The answer is yes, but not as much as you think."


Listed below are the rest of this week's submissions.


Emily Holbrook from Risk Management Monitor posted about, The Insurance Industry Needs More Dynamic Models, saying, "Simpler, but more dynamic capital models are what the insurance industry needs in order to avoid suffering some of the same problems it did during the financial crisis that began in 2008, according to the Willis Economic Capital Forum (WECF), a Georgia-State-University-based initiative from the academic and analysis arm of Willis Group."


Jeff Root from Root Life Insurance Blog posted about, Life Insurance with a DUI, saying, "Securing life insurance with a recent DUI on your record can be expensive. Here are some tips to find the most affordable life insurance with a DUI history."



Super Saver from My Wealth Builder posted about, My Health Insurance Premium is Up Again, saying, "Our health care insurance premiums have been up every year and are up 36.9% cumulatively since Obamacare passed. I wonder when I'll see the "lower costs" that President Obama promised."



Louise from the Colorado Health Insurance Insider posted about, Colorado Health Exchange Gets $43 Million Federal Grant, saying, "Senator Michael Bennet hailed the grant award and said that “Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who now don’t have insurance or who have insurance in the unstable, high-cost individual market will have a range of more affordable options through the new exchange.” It will be great if the exchange results in far more Colorado residents with health insurance to offset the risk of catastrophic medical bills. The federal premium subsidies that will be provided via the exchange should definitely help with that. But as to whether or not the actual premiums charged (which will have to be paid in full by any individual who doesn’t qualify for the federal subsidies) will be significantly lower, I think it might still be too early to know."



Michael from Financial Ramblings posted about,  Life Insurance: How Much Coverage Do You Need, saying, "This post looks at factors to consider when deciding how much life insurance to buy. My advice: skip the arbitrary rules of thumb that advise buying a multiple of your income and give it some real thought."



Bob from Christian PF posted about How to buy personal health insurance saying, "With more people being self-employed or working for employers who don’t offer health insurance coverage, the ability to buy personal health insurance is more important than ever. Having the right health insurance coverage — at the best possible price — is one of the most important financial decisions we can make."



Rebecca Shafer from Workers Comp Roundup posted about, An Independent Claims Audit Can Be The Answer To Poor Claims Handling, saying, "Self-insured employers can have a good safety program, an established return-to-work program and knowledgeable nurse case managers, and still pay way too much on their workers’ compensation claims. Ineffective claims management can wipe out most or all of the cost savings achieved through your efforts to control cost. Whether you have your own claims office, or have a third party administrator (TPA) handling your workers’ compensation claims, poor claims handling will always result in higher claims costs."

 

Hank Stern of InsureBlog posted about, Long Term Care and Life Insurance, saying, "What do you get when you combine *two* risk management tools – life and long term care insurance? InsureBlog's guest blogger is an expert in Long Term Care insurance and explains the pros and cons."



David Excess Return posted about, Hedging Risk Exposure, saying, "When investors assume risk in an asset class that has a premium above a risk free rate of return, the investor could consider hedging the exposure when the returns are better than expected and lock in profits."



I posted on My Personal Finance Journey about Insurance Agents: Obsolete Relics of the Past or Critical Players on Your Personal Finance Team?, saying, "Following in the footsteps of travel agents, are insurance agents the next casualty of the Internet age? Is there still is a large demand for personal, local insurance agents? Also, do insurance agents add value to individuals' lives, or do they simply drive up the cost of insurance products/services and will soon befall a similar fate to their travel agent relatives? This post explores these questions and more."



Well – that concludes this edition. Thanks for tuning in!

The Best Tidbits of News From the Workers Comp Community

 

Cavalcade of Risk #166

 

A summary of the top risk prevention blog posts of the week: Manage Your Trading Risk ,  The Key to an Effective ERM Program., An Alternative to Having “Skin in the Game” Most Colorado Residents Have Health Insurance., Life Insurance for Parents., My Wealth Builder., Challenges in Putting The Client First. InsureBlog., Do I need earthquake insurance? , 

 

Read the Articles here: Cavalcade of Risk #166

 

 

Workers Compensation Seminar

 

Workers’ Compensation claims can have a significant impact on your business through lost productivity, claims costs, and litigation risks. Dinsmore attorneys are committed to keeping you up-to-date — more prepared and more productive in handling WC claims and mitigating risk. During this year’s three-hour seminar, you’ll learn about a variety of subjects including hearing preparation and electronic claim filing though ICON and Dolphin systems, updates on the “Substantial Aggravation” standard, Voluntary Abandonment, IMEs and rating issues for state-funded employers. Register for the event HERE

 

 

The real future of SB 863 is in the hands of system participants.

 

 

The California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference, which started yesterday, could not have been more fortuitously scheduled with the opening presentation occurring just 19 days after the Legislature shut its doors for the season and the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 863 just the day before.As one might expect, most of the buzz at the conference is about SB 863 and my public sentiment thermometer gauged that most everyone believes that there are good provisions, bad provisions, and elements that could go either way depending upon how the regulations implementing the changes are drafted … and how the courts interpret both the new law and regulations. Read More…

 

 

California DIR Officials Outline Goals and Tasks for Implementing SB 863 Workers’ Comp Reforms by David Bryan Leonard, Esq

 

The 2012 California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference opened September 19, 2012 at the St. Regis Resort, Dana Point with an update from the DIR/DWC/WCAB entitled “What’s on the horizon for 2013?”

Presented by WCAB Chairwoman Ronnie Caplane and Katherine Zalewski, Chief Counsel for the Department of Industrial Relations, the panel gave a candid summary of Senate Bill 863.  Just signed into law by Governor Brown, SB 863 was presented as a sweeping overhaul of California’s Workers’ Compensation Act.

 

Acknowledging that SB 863 imposes seemingly “daunting” tasks for the WCAB and DIR, both panelists noted the need for additional enabling regulations from each Department.   Read more…

 

 

Special Discount to Attend the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference

 

Worker’s Compensation Expert Rebecca Shafer will be presenting at the 21st Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® in Las Vegas, November 7 – 9.

 

Rebecca would like to invite you to join her there and be a part of the nation’s leading training event for workers’ comp and disability management professionals. And, more importantly, to benefit from all the great strategies and best practices you’ll learn that will help you solve the biggest challenges facing our industry.

 

The organizers have given Rebecca a special discount to offer you– $320.00 off the on-site rate – even larger than the discount advertised in the brochure. You can attend all the sessions and networking events over the two-and-a-half days for only $975.

 

To attend at this special $320.00 discount, register by Oct. 22 using Promo Code SPKR12 (all caps).  Register atwww.WCConference.com

 

 

<pAuthor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

WorkSafe Begins Phase 2 of Workplace Safety Program

 

 

Phase II of WorkSafeBC’s (British Columbia) combustible dust strategy began recently, and has been expanded to include similar wood processing operations where dust accumulation could be a safety hazard.

 

Until the end of the year, WorkSafeBC officers will be inspecting up to 280 B.C. employers registered in the wood and paper products sub-sectors. Inspections will focus on dust cleanup, ventilation, and dust control issues.

 

Wood processing and paper product operations have been selected because of their high risk of combustible dust explosion due to large amounts of dust produced or handled in these facilities,” said Betty Pirs, vice president, Prevention Services. “Like all WorkSafeBC inspections, orders will be issued to employers based on violations observed during the inspections.”

 

WorkSafeBC aims to complete the first round of inspections by late August, and will be following up with employers to ensure they are in compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation in regard to combustible dust and potential safety hazards.

 

Phase two inspections will also include sawmill facilities inspected as part of Phase I, that are continuing to face challenges in maintaining compliance.

 

Phase I of the combustible dust strategy was initiated in April 2012 after wood dust was suspected as a factor in the explosions at Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake and Lakeland Mills in Prince George. These two sawmills exploded within three months of each other, killing four workers and seriously injuring dozens more.

 

On April 26, 2012, WorkSafeBC issued a directive order to the province’s 173 sawmills to conduct a full hazard identification, risk assessment, and safety review, with particular focus on combustible dust; dust accumulation; and potential ignition sources.

 

Since the directive order was issued, WorkSafeBC has been following up with employers to ensure the ordered actions have been taken and that sawmills are in compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulation with regard to combustible dust and potential safety hazards. The status of the inspections and compliance is posted on WorkSafeBCsWebsite.

 

 

<pAuthor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact:  mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

 
WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

The Best Tidbits of News from the Workers Comp Community

Here are the some of the hot topics from the Workers Comp world this week:

 

Teach Your Data To Fight Opiod Abuse

Workers’ Compensation research, networking communities, and press are overflowing with information about Opioid overuse and how it is negatively impacting claim costs and outcomes. Information about the problem abounds. Opioid abuse is clearly recognized as a serious problem in the industry, clearly evidenced by recent research.   Read More…


Rulebook Supplement 2012-13 Available Online

The Texas Workers’ Compensation Rulebook Supplement 2012-03 containing rules adopted by the Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation is available online from the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation (TDI-DWC). The supplement can be printed from the TDI website at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/rules/supplements.html.  See more… Information provided by Downs . Stratford, PC 



Security and Risk Management as a Social Science by Emily Holbrook


Here at the Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit, I sat in on a session regarding human behavior and it’s connection to information security. Tom Scholtz, an analyst with Gartner, started off with a statement many of us know to be true, but often forget.

“The single weakest link in the information security chain still remains the human being,” he said.  Read More…

 

The High Cost of Treating Low Back Pain by Dr. David C. Radford from West Hartford Group, Inc.

According to the American College of Physicians, low back pain is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits in the United States. Approximately one quarter of U.S. adults reported having low-back pain lasting at least 24 hours in the past 3 months, and 7.6% reported at least 1 episode of severe acute low-back pain within a 1-year period. Low-back pain is also very costly: Total incremental direct health care costs attributable to low-back pain in the United States were estimated at $26.3 billion in 1998. It is estimated that the real cost of back pain including the cost of health care and lost production now exceeds $100 billion a year.  

To better understand the role of the nation’s chiropractic physicians in reducing the health care cost of low-back pain, WHG has produced a public service video announcement



Watch the video: http://youtu.be/Wfkg3hTSbDI


News From Lexis Nexis

Fifth Circuit Muddies the Water in Hearing Loss Cases

HEARING LOSS UNDER LHWCA

Stephen Embry

I Can See Clearly Now, Just Can't Hear So Good, by Stephen Embry, Esq. In the study of the law styled jurisprudence, there are many schools of thought. Some students of the law believe that past cases predict the future and that precedent must prevail. In this philosophy, past words have meaning and are the expression of internal logic that controls and instructs us as to how current and future conflicts must be resolved. Others follow another road, believing that past cases are at best examples of isolated arguments that worked in the past and may be instructive of arguments that may be useful in the future. Read More…


DEFENSE BASE ACT BILL

JohnKawcyznski

New Bill Proposes to Exclude Private Carriers from DBA Insurance Market, by John E. Kawczynski, Esq. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has introduced the "Defense Base Act Insurance Improvement Act of 2012" (H.R. 5891) which would exclude private insurance carriers from the Defense Base Act insurance market. Instead, a new "Government Defense Base Act self-insurance program" would be created Read More…


THOMAS A. ROBINSON TO SPEAK AT NATIONAL WORKERS' COMP CONFERENCE

LexisNexis has partnered with the National Workers' Compensation Conference to create an enhanced legal track for attorneys and other workers' comp professionals.Tom Robinson thumbnailLexisNexis author Thomas A. Robinson will be speaking on several panels, including theFuture of Exclusive Remedy. View the program agenda. Overall, there are 15 members of the Larson's National Workers' Compensation Advisory Board speaking at this event. You don't want to miss this conference! Take advantage of the special discount for all LexisNexis Workers' Compensation Law Community members. Community membership is free at our site.

 

Note: If your company has any developments you'd like to share, please send them to us at: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

 

 

 

 


WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com

VIEW SAMPLES PAGES

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Use Video to Get the Employee Back to Work

Sometimes, despite an employer's best efforts, some employees just do not want to come back to work (not having to work for a steady paycheck is a pretty good deal). The usual way employees block their return to work is by exaggerating the physical demands of their job. When asked by the orthopedic doctor how much lifting the job entails, the employee remembers the one time in his 20 years of employment where he picked up a 90-pound bag of concrete mix. What the doctor hears is the poor employee is lifting 90-pound bags all day long. The orthopedic in an effort to avoid a malpractice claim, tells the employee you cannot do that, and keeps the employee off work for another month.
 
 
A lot of savvy risk managers and workers compensation coordinators are furnishing the medical provider with a copy of the employees written job description as soon as they know who the medical provider is or is going to be. This often helps to get the employee back to work as soon as the employee is physically able to return to work. However even with a written job description, there are times the doctor does not have a clear understanding of the employee’s job.(WCxKit)
 
 
With YouTube and all the other video display sites on the internet, the use of video to show and describe things is quite common. Video job descriptions are now easy to create, simple to watch and they make it much easier to understand processes when the medical provider is not previously familiar with them. There are also videos and photos on Facebook that are now commonly used to dispute claims on inability to work.
 
 
Before you start making a video of the employee’s job, stop and plans what you want to show. Read through the written job description. Does it cover everything the employee does? Ask another conscientious employee who does the same job how the written job description can be improved (no need to mention the other employee’s work comp claim). Be sure to make note of everything the currently working employee states needs to be added to, or taken out of, the existing job description.
 
 
Obtain a copy of the injured employee’s medical restrictions. Identify the limitations the medical provider has placed that are preventing the employee from returning to work (this will be important when making the video record of the job description).
 
 
Ask the working employee to allow you to video record the work routine, the daily task and the most difficult parts of the job. Be sure to capture on the video the way the working employee has to move, bend, stretch, twist, walk, sit, stand, etc. Show all repetitive motions. Show all lifting whether it is a 40-pound box of materials, or a feather-light single piece of material.
 
 
Be sure to have the sound turned on during the video of the job and ask questions. Some of the questions you will want answered in your video include:
 
1. How much does that item weigh?
2. How often do you have to pick up the item?
3. Is it easier to do your job sitting down or standing up?
4. How far do you have to reach?
5. How many times a day to you repeat that motion?
6. What can be done to make the physical demands of the job easier?
7. Show me the most difficult part of your job.
8. Without mentioning the injured employee, ask about each limitation that has been placed on the injured employee, for example:
a. “If for safety reasons we said not to lift more than 20 pounds, could you still do your job?”
b. “If you were unable to stand for more than four hours at a time, would you be able to do the job sitting down?”
c. “Would it make the job easier if you alternated between standing and sitting?”
d. “Would you be able to do your job if we limited the repetitive motion to XX repetitions per hour?”
 
 
Keep in mind there is the possibility that the conscientious employee will state “you cannot do this job if you cannot lift 40 pounds” or something similar that will validate the fact the injured employee is not malingering and really cannot return to work, yet.
 
 
If necessary, edit your video job description to keep the length down to about five minutes. That is about as much time as you can expect the doctor to take away from his/her many other duties to watch the injured employee’s video job description.
 
 
When you are satisfied the video record will answer all the potential concerns of the medical provider and properly portray the injured employee’s job, ask the nurse case manager to view the video job description. See if she has any concerns about the injured employee’s capabilities to return to work. If she does, determine how the job might be modified for the injured employee to return to work.(WCxKit)
 
 
The nurse case manager is a good way to get the video record in front of the medical provider. The nurse case manager can explain your desire to get the employee back to work and also explain how any necessary job modification will be accomplished to meet the injured employee’s restrictions. If necessary, add to the video any job description changes needed to accompany the employee’s restrictions, showing the way the modified job will be done. When the medical provider sees the employee can do the regular job, or a modified duty job, the formerly injured employee will soon be back to work.
 
 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

NEW 2012 WORKERS COMP BOOK:  www.WCManual.com 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

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

Five Pro-Active Steps to Start Reducing Workplace Risk

 
A lot of employers strive to maintain a safer, more productive workplace for their employees. Every business would love to reduce costs and increase profit margins. The cost of claims can account for a big chunk of money losses, especially for the self-insured or self-administered employer.
 
 
So how do you get started? Where do you start, or better yet when do you start? The answer is RIGHT NOW, and here is how:(WCxKit)
 
1.      Know where your risk lies
Observe your workplace. Go through department statistics and see how they compare to each other regarding losses. Perhaps 75 percent of your injuries occur in the shipping department. Go down there and talk with the supervisor. Find out what the issues are and why they think injuries are happening. Then work together to solve the problem.
 
 
Another helpful thing to look at is your loss run. Talk to your carrier or adjuster and see if they notice any trends in injuries. Which people are getting injured? Maybe newer hires account for a lot of injuries. This may show that a focus needs to be directed toward training and safety right from day one of employment.
 
 
Look at your business. What do you do? What are the risks involved? You could have risks from several areas, stretching from workers comp, to automotive issues with your fleet and the drivers, to liability risk from customers in your store. Break it down and track your statistics. Identify issues. Work on ways you can reduce your injuries or occurrences from happening in the first place.
 
 
2.      Plan your attack
OK, so you have identified a few areas where you could improve on reducing some injuries or claims reports. So, what do you do to fix it? Planning is important, but the most important thing is to start, even if that is with very small steps.
 
 
The answer lies in the resources you have all around you. The first step is to talk to your carrier. Chances are the carrier has loss prevention specialists ready to help you work with what needs to be fixed. Ergonomic professionals can be brought in to address  workstations and to suggest solutions to reduce exposure. Utilize your medical clinic contacts to see if occupational physicians can watch employees working. They can then identify potential issues with certain movements or repetitive-motion injuries. Utilize your local counsel  by having them come in to explain the risks and costs associated with potential serious injuries, automotive accidents, failure to drug test your employees, etc. Any or all of these will help you reach your goal of reducing risk exposure.
 
 
3.      Implement your solution
Now, if you identified what needs to be fixed, and how it should be fixed, now it is time to fix it. Get rid of old equipment and bring in new equipment with better safety features. Newer equipment costs less to maintain and repair and  is quicker to operate. Most new machines use less energy than old ones, reducing  utility bills and creating worker ease of operation. Get some padding on the floor for workers to stand at their workstations (also known as “fatigue mats.”) This reduces strain on feet and legs, and reduces body fatigue, potentially making employees more productive after long hours at work.
 
 
Whatever the fix may be, get it done. Out with the old — in with the new.
 
 
4.      Measure your success statistics
So now your new equipment is installed and in place. Now it is time to measure your reductions. Take a two, four, and six month stretch and measure your numbers. Do you see a drop in claim activity? Or, did claims increase, meaning your plan backfired? You have to see how you did, and most importantly you have to give it time. Change is disruptive to employees, but they do get used to it. Give it time, and measure your numbers post-change against the ones you first noticed back when you were figuring out where your risk was coming from. Measure lost-time days, and post your progess at the front entrance.
 
 
5.      Get feedback from your workers
After all you did, you left out the most important thing: To talk to your staff of workers about the changes. How do they feel it impacted their workday? Were the changes helpful, or did they hurt production? How do they feel at the end of the day? Do they feel less sore or are the new workstations worse than the old ones?
 
 
Ask as many questions as you can. This makes your staff feel that their input is important, and taken in to account. After all who better to talk to about the implemented changes than those who are directly affected day after day?(WCxKit)
 
 
A supervisor once said, “It is hard to fully embrace change. To make things easier, you have to ‘lean’ into it a bit at a time until you have accepted the entire package of change.” This is true on many levels. Even though it is hard work to find out what your risks are, discover how to attack them, implement changes, measure success, and get worker feedback, in the end it will be worth it. Lean in to the task. Do not try to tackle it all at once. As I have always said, "Don't eat elephant in one bite."
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 

LEARN ABOUT OUR BOOK:  http://www.wcmanual.com

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

New Zealand Study Health Risk from Solvent Use by Lab Techs

Exposure to solvents by medical laboratory workers may be a health risk according to a new study from the University of Otago, Wellington, published in The Journal of Rheumatology.
 
 
“Our study of 341 medical laboratory workers indicates they are more likely to develop a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon, if they are exposed to solvents such as toluene or xylene. This raises concerns they could then have further serious health complications later in life,” said lead researcher Gordon Purdie.(WCxKit)
 
 
This is the first  research to show an occupational health hazard involving solvent use and Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP). Other studies overseas have shown similar solvent associations, but not with people exposed to solvents at work.
 
 
Raynaud’s phenomenon is vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels in the hands and other extremities, and is characterized by pain, color changes and tautness or fullness of the fingers or toes. Raynaud’s phenomenon usually only occurs in cold conditions. For some people it may be a symptom or precursor of scleroderma, a rare connective tissue disease affecting multiple systems in the body and mainly amongst women.
 
 
The mainly female laboratory workers (79 percent) who used solvents in this study had higher rates of severe RP. Those who had worked with xylene or toluene doubled their risk of developing severe RP. It appears that lab workers who worked with acetone or chlorinated solvents, combined with xylene or toluene, also doubled their risk of developing RP. Risk of developing severe RP was even greater, in fact, nine times.
 
 
“I am concerned that 75 percent of those who worked with xylene or toluene handled wet sample slides without gloves. The majority had done so daily for over a decade,” Purdie said. “Absorption through the skin is a classic way for solvents to have a negative impact on health.” He said the study also found no difference in severe RP rates between the general population and those lab workers who had not used solvents in their work. He said this study highlights the need to minimize exposure and be careful in handling solvents in medical laboratories and other workplaces.(WCxKit)
 
 
Co-author and senior lecturer in Rheumatology at the University of Otago, Wellington, Dr Andrew Harrison, presented the study at the Australian Rheumatology Association Scientific Meeting in Brisbane. He said, “This is the first study to demonstrate a link between laboratory worker solvent exposure and symptoms of autoimmune connective tissue disease and has important implications for workplace health and safety.”

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


ABCs of WORKERS COMP BOOK: www.wcmanual.com

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

5 Ways an Aging Workforce Can Lead to Risk and Reward

 

According to data on labor-force participation from the U.S. Current Population Survey available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2005 and 2010, the number of employees in the U.S. aged 55 to 64 increased 52%. So if an employer has a majority of its workforce in this age range, it is reasonable to say there is an associated risk. But there are positives as well. Below we discuss these issues — positive and negative.
 
 
1. An older workforce at your plant can lead to fewer claims
Many smaller employers and plants can have a great loss run report. Workplaces with a loyal workforce and little turnover in a smaller facility can run well. A smaller plant may have only two to three dozen employees. A majority of these workers likely have been employees for over 15-20 years and remain loyal. They have survived buyouts, layoffs, decreased demand, and economic woes. They took the layoffs and returned back to work when needed. They did whatever tasks  were asked of them. They know how to do multiple jobs, run multiple machines, and handle different orders as needed. (WCxKit)
 
 
These senior-level workers are reliable. They do the safety checks. They can run and maintain their machines in their sleep. They rarely get injured because of years of practicing safety standards. They know not to cut corners.  When one of these workers is injured, they want to get back to work. But often this generation of worker has complicated injuries.
 
 
2. But when older workers are injured it leads to longer, more severe claims
This senior-level workforce often makes high wages.  When they get injured, the wage loss component can account for a big cost associated with lost-time comp claims. Being off work for a month can cost two to three times more than the associated medical costs. By keeping a light duty work program in place, employers can save some expenses.
 
 
Shoulder, knee, and back injuries can be particularly severe and often  require surgery. These body parts withstand decades of work-related wear and tear. The adjuster has to determine if the injury is work related or due to non-occupational factors. Levels of arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and degenerative ligament tearing are factors. What the employee was doing during the injury is also key. Is this a repetitive motion injury or an acute injury? Or is this an injury related to age that happens to occur in the workplace? The golden rule of workers comp is “Just because an injury happens at work does not mean it is actually caused by work duties.”
 
 
If an employee’s back gives out at work, this does not necessarily equate to full granted workers compensation benefits. The adjuster must do a complete, thorough, and often long investigation to maintain ethical accuracy. As long as the adjuster is given all the information needed and questions answered, the correct judgment will be made.
 
 
Older employees may feel an injury is work related. After all they have never had a claim or a surgery until now. Now they are off work and frustrated with the recovery process. They are afraid of surgery. And if the claim is denied, legal costs can mount. This high level of employee will fight, and  will not take a workers compensation denial lightly. Especially if the employee feels entitled to benefits after all the years on the job. These employees will often obtain legal counsel to explore options, so the adjuster must cover all bases.  
 
 
3. Identify issues and reduce risk
While older workers generally have fewer workplace injuries, they are often more costly to treat. In addition, they tend to be away from work almost twice as long as their younger coworkers. By understanding the aging process and its impact on workers comp claims, adjusters and employers can help better protect employees from injury. Risks and trends should be identified on the work floor. As previously mentioned, tailoring workstations to your workers to encourage safety and production is crucial. Talking to workers to help the employer identify issues before they become a potential hazard is a positive way to use worker feedback.
 
 
4. New technology can spike claims so focus on retraining and safety
New technology can cause frustration and disruption to a daily work routine the worker has done for years. The employee may not be open to this at first. So training and safety are even more crucial. Without it, injuries can and will occur. Follow up with consistent training to reduce the risk and threat of injury.(WCxKit)
 
 
Summary
The most experienced workers can be an employer’s greatest asset. But if they become injured, they can become the greatest insurance cost. By keeping them involved, keeping them trained, and keeping them focused on safety, employers can avoid and prevent injury while and keep older workers on the work floor working.
 

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


Our WORKERS COMP BOOK:
www.wcmanual.com

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

5 Ways to Get Started Reducing Risk

 
A lot of employers strive to be a safer, more productive workplace for their employees. Every business would love to reduce costs and increase profit margins. The cost of claims can account for a big chunk of your monetary losses, especially if you are self-insured or self-administered.
 
 
So how do you get started? Where do you start, or better yet when do you start? The answer is RIGHT NOW, and here is how:
 

1.  Know where your risk lies

Observe your workplace. Go through department statistics and see how they all compare to each other regarding losses. Perhaps 75 percent of your injuries occur in the shipping department. Go down there and talk with the supervisor. Find out what their issues are and why they think injuries are happening. Then, work together to solve the problem.   (WCxKit)
 
 
Another helpful thing to look at is your loss run. Talk to your carrier or adjuster and see if they notice any trends in injuries, or which people are getting injured. Maybe the newer hires account for a lot of the injuries. This may show that a focus needs to be directed towards training and safety right from day one of their employment.
 
 
Look at your business. What do you do? What are the risks involved? You could have risk from several areas, stretching from workers comp to automotive issues with your fleet and the drivers, to liability risk from customers in your store. Break it all down, and start to track your statistics. Identify issues, and work on thinking of ways you can reduce your injuries or occurrences from happening in the first place.
 

2.  Plan your attack

If you have identified a few areas in which you could improve by reducing injuries or claims reports, what do you do to fix it?
 
 
The answer lies in the resources you have all around you. The first step is to talk to your carrier. Chances are they have the loss-prevention specialists ready to come help you work with what needs to be fixed, and how to fix it. Ergonomic professionals can be brought in to address your workstations, and suggest possible solutions to reduce exposure.
 
 
Utilize your medical clinic contacts to see if occupational physicians can watch employees doing their work to identify potential issues with certain movements or repetitive motion injuries. Or, maybe it's time to consider having your own in house occupational clinic for a really proactive strategy. You could staff it wiht a paraprofessional. Utilize your local counsel, and have them come in to explain the risks and costs associated with potential serious injuries, automotive accidents, failure to drug test your employees, etc. Any or all of these will help you get to your goal of reducing your exposure.
 
 

3.  Implement your solution plan

Once you have identified what needs to be fixed, and how it should be fixed, now it is time to fix it. Get rid of that old equipment and bring in new equipment that has better safety features. They cost less to maintain and repair, and they are quicker to operate. Most new machines use less energy than the old ones, reducing your utility bills and creating worker ease of operation. Get some padding on the floor for workers to stand on during work at their workstations (also known as “fatigue mats”). This reduces strain on their feet and legs, and reduces body fatigue, potentially making them more productive after long hours at the workplace.
 
 
Whatever the fix may be, get it done — out with the old, in with the new.
 
 

4.  Measure your success statistics

Once new equipment is installed and in place, it is time to measure your reductions. Measure your numbers in a two, four, and six month stretch. Did you see any drop in claim activity? Did claims increase, making your plan backfire? You have to see how you did, and most importantly, you have to give it time. Change is disruptive to employees, but they will get used to it. Give it time, and measure your numbers post-change against the ones you first noticed back when you were figuring out where your risk was coming from.
 
 

5.  Get feedback from your workers

After all you have done, you left out the most important thing: To talk to your staff of workers about the changes. How do they feel it impacted their workday? Were the changes helpful, or did they hurt production? How do they feel at the end of the day? Do they feel less sore or are the new workstations worse than the old ones?
 
 
Ask as many questions as you can. This makes your staff feel that their input is important, and taken in to account. After all who better to talk to about the changes that were implemented than those who were directly affected day after day?(WCxKit)
 
 
In summary, it is hard to break old habits, and to accept change. I remember an old supervisor of mine said, “It is hard to fully embrace change. To make things easier, you have to ‘lean’ in to it a bit at a time until you have accepted the entire package of change.” This is true on many levels. Even though it is hard work to find out what your risks are, how to attack them, implementing your changes, measuring your success, and getting worker feedback, in the end it will be worth it. Lean in to the task; don’t try to tackle it all at once.

 
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing, publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
Our WC Book: www.WCmanual.com
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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