Occupational Low Back Pain Causes, Workplace Solutions and Treatment Options

Authors: Brian Anderson DC, CCN, MPH and David C. Radford, DC, MSc

 

 

Employers are unlikely to find another issue that leads to more absenteeism and detracts from productivity in the workplace more than occupational low back pain (LBP). This, the first in a series of articles, introduces the ubiquity of this problem in the workplace, what solutions are effective in addressing it, and what treatment options can be most successfully employed when workers do injure their low backs.

 

 

In order to understand the scope of this problem, it is worthwhile to discuss some statistics related to occupational LBP.

 

  • Occupational LBP is the largest single health problem related to work absenteeism, and the  most common cause of incapacity among workers younger than forty-five years old.
  • Worldwide, 37% of LBP was attributed to occupation.
  • 1% of the US population is permanently disabled from this problem.
  • Occupational LBP accounts for 68% of sick days and 76% of sick leave payment costs in some industries.

 

As is obvious from the above statistics, LBP consistently creates huge expenditures and time loss from work. Employees whose job involves lifting, bending, twisting or repetitive spinal movements are most at risk for these injuries. This type of LBP is classified as kinetic or dynamic overload injury. Due to the nature of LBP, these workers are also more likely to need extended time off work when suffering a low back injury. Transitionally, they may also need modified duty for a period of time on their return to work.

 


Ergonomic interventions
, which will be addressed in part two of this series, are crucial for the prevention of occupational LBP. Acute LBP is almost never related to one specific event, but rather is the culmination of a long history of improper mechanics and micro-trauma to the spine. As apposed to kinetic injury, static or postural LBP is also a huge problem for “desk jockeys,” or those who sit for prolonged periods of time. Lack of movement can sometimes be as detrimental as too much movement.

 

To summarize, the risk factors for occupational LBP are:

 

  • cumulative traumas;
  • dynamic activity-trunk flexion and rotation, heavy physical work, bending or squatting, lifting or carrying loads;
  • long work shifts without pauses;
  • static and inadequate postures.

 

 

Workers suffering low back injuries can be divided into three groups: work being the primary cause of LBP; work being one of many contributing factors related to LBP; and those with a preexisting back injury which may be aggravated by work. Those workers who fall into the latter category should be very carefully monitored. There will always be cases of occupational LBP that cannot be predicted or even prevented, but a worker with a previous history of LBP does not fall into this category. Matching the worker to the job is a crucial prevention strategy, which will be discussed in part two of this series.

 

 

What should be most concerning to employers, and is likely the most important reason for intervention, is preventing acute low back pain from becoming a chronic problem. There is plenty of data to suggest that most acute low back pain is self-limiting. With or without treatment, many cases of acute low back pain resolve in a few weeks. There are, however, two issues that should be of concern regarding occupational LBP; recurrence and chronicity. The recurrence rate of low back pain is 30-60% within 1-2 years.

 

 

There are also some documented risk factors for developing chronic LBP after an acute injury which employers and health care providers should be aware of. These are:

 

  • dissatisfaction with work
  • physical inactivity/obesity
  • low vitamin D levels
  • smoking
  • performing heavy lifting
  • depression
  • being involved in litigation
  • educational level

 

 

In part three of this series, we will discuss treatment options designed to prevent chronic low back pain.

 

 

If employers are not actively working with their company nurses and doctors developing strategies and programs to address and prevent occupational LBP, hopefully they will after reading this series of articles. Next time we will address programs and interventions targeting primary and secondary prevention of occupational LBP. Stay tuned!

 

 

Resources:

 

  1. Estimating the global burden of low back pain attributable to combined occupational exposures – http://www.who.int/quantifying_ehimpacts/global/5lowbackpain.pdf
  2. Occupational low back pain: Rev Assoc Med Bras 2010; 56(5): 583-9
  3. Preventing Occupational Low-Back Pain. West J Med 1988 Feb; 148:235
  4. Can We Identify People at Risk of Non-recovery after Acute Occupational Low Back Pain? Results of a Review and Higher-Order Analysis. Physiother Can. 2010;62:9 –16
  5. Designing a workplace return to work program for occupational low back pain: an intervention mapping approach. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2009 10:65
  6. Liebenson, C. Rehabilitation of the Spine- A Practitioners manual, 2ndedition. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

 

 

Dr. Anderson works as a supervising clinician and instructor at National University of Health Sciences in Lombard IL. He has been in private practice, as well as part of a team in a University based Integrative Medicine setting. In addition, Dr. Anderson has experience in the medico-legal field, serving as an expert for various insurance companies and legal firms. He earned a Masters Degree in Public Health, as well as a Certified Clinical Nutritionist designation. He is currently working toward a specialty diplomate in Functional Rehabilitation. Contact Dr. Anderson for more information at banderson@nuhs.edu

 

 

Dr. Radford is in private practice. He is a third generation Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine. He earned a Master’s Degree in Advanced Clinical Practice and he provides conservative primary care. He has treated work related injuries for more than 30 years. Dr. Radford has found that treating the co-morbidities that often accompany injured workers like obesity, medication overuse, and addiction lead to a more complete recovery. He was a founding member of the Cleveland Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio. Contact for more information at DCR8888@aol.com or (440)-248-8888.

 

 

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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

 

Safety Not As Important as Operations a Cause of Most Costly British Industrial Disaster

Fundamental safety management failings were the root cause of Britain's most costly industrial disaster, a new publication reveals. The report into the explosion and five-day fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in December 2005 tells, for the first time, the full story of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency's (EA) investigation.
 
 
Drawing on previously unpublished material held back until the criminal prosecution was complete and the appeals process exhausted, “The Buncefield Explosion: Why Did it Happen?,” identifies several failings including: (WCxKit)
 

1.     Systems for managing the filling of industrial tanks of petrol were both deficient and not fully implemented

2.     An increase in the volume of fuel passing through the site put unsustainable pressure on those responsible for managing its receipt and storage, a task they lacked information about and struggled to monitor. The pressure was made worse by a lack of necessary engineering support and other expertise.

3.     A culture developed where keeping operations going was more important than safe processes, which did not get the attention, resources or priority status they required.

4.     Inadequate arrangements for containment of fuel and fire-water to protect the environment.

 
 
Gordon MacDonald, the chairman of the COMAH Competent Authority Strategic Management Group publisher of the report, said, "Major industrial incidents are thankfully rare. This report will help make them even less frequent by sharing some key insights and lessons with the wider high hazard industries. Companies that work in a high hazardous industry need to have strong safety systems in place, underpinned by the right safety culture. Buncefield is a stark reminder of the potential result of a poor attitude towards safety. The local community was devastated and the environmental impact of the disaster is still evident today. With estimated total costs exceeding £1billion, this remains Britain's most costly industrial disaster."
 
 
In July 2010, five companies were fined a total of £9.5million ($15 plus million) for their part in the catastrophe. The 36-page report highlights a number of process safety management principles, the importance of which was underlined by the failings at Buncefield:
 

1.     There should be a clear understanding of major accident risks and the safety critical equipment and systems designed to control them.

2.     There should be systems and a culture in place to detect signals of failure in safety critical equipment and to respond to them quickly and effectively.

3.     Time and resources for process safety should be made available. (WCxKit)

4.     Once all the above are in place, there should be effective auditing systems in place to test the quality of management systems and ensure that these systems are actually being used on the ground.

 
At the core of managing a major hazard business should be clear and positive process safety leadership with board-level involvement and competence to ensure that major hazard risks are being properly managed.


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 or 860-553-6604.

 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/
SUBSCRIBE: 
Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

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.

When Buying Work Comp Consider Whether Independent Contractors and Volunteers Are Covered

Figuring out who  is considered a covered employee for purposes of workers’ compensation often is a tricky matter and sometimes a source of litigation when the subject of a claim. Each jurisdiction varies and each case is evaluated on its own merits. That said there are similar basic principles to reference in most jurisdictions in making the determination.

The vast majority
 of employees in a typical employee/employer relationship are covered. For example, checkers at a grocery store, factory workers, fast food workers and hospital nurses are generally all covered. Very small employers with perhaps 3-5 or fewer employees are not always required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Owners and corporate officers often are allowed to opt out of coverage.

Independent contractors
 and subcontractors seem to create the most questions. Employers should require proof of workers’ compensation insurance when hiring independent contractors. If the contractor proves ultimately to be uninsured, chances are the employer hiring the contractor will become responsible for the injuries of the contactor’s employees then referred to as statutory employees. The same goes for hiring an individual who presents as a sole independent contractor as often happens for example in the long-haul trucking industry.   

Consider these
 circumstances when evaluating an employee/employer relationship:
1. Who has direction and control of the work being done?
2. Who has the right to hire or fire workers?
3. Who is paying workers and from whose account?
4. Who owns the equipment used in performing the job?
5. Are taxes withheld upon payment?
6. Is the work being done normally performed by this employer?

Volunteers can at times
 be considered employees and allowed benefits when there is some consideration provided to the volunteer for services, including meals, transportation or room and board. 
Loaned or borrowed employees also may create a special set of circumstances in considering the employer/employee relationship.  

Usually exempt
 and not considered employees are causal employees – those earning less than a certain dollar amount for example, $1,500 annually, domestic staff and farm laborers.

Generally speaking
, employees covered by federal employer’s legislation (Railroad Workers, Longshoreman and Harbor Workers Act and Jones Act) are exempt or not covered by state workers’ compensation statutes. (workersxzcompxzkit)

Understanding
 the differences in all of these situations is important both in the application process and purchase of workers’ compensation insurance as well as when it comes time to consider payment of a claim. 

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, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Podcast/Webcast: How To Prevent Fraudulent Workers' Compensation Claims Click Here http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/

Fraudulent_Workers_Compensation_Claims/index.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.
 
©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

How to Write an Effective Workers Compensation Management Policy

A workers’ compensation  policy statement defines your company’s intent to control workers’ compensation costs. As the workers’ comp coordinator you begin by formulating a workers’ comp management policy for your company, keeping in mind policy statements are unique to every company creating them, but have common characteristics. 

Make it clear  when you begin to draft a workers’ comp management statement it is preliminary and will not be finalized for six months. A preliminary statement is needed now to begin implementing the other aspects of your workers’ comp management program, but you retain the authority to finalize it later. 
There is no  substitute for time. Time shows the reappearing issues the policy may need to address specifically. Time shows other items you must add to the template. Time makes the policy statement a working document. By waiting a minimum of six months before rolling out the policy, issues are added as they arise.

Policy Goal Statement

The first part  of the policy is an overview of the policy and why it was created. Keep the language simple, and whenever possible couch the problem statement in positive words. 
Keep the language  simple to avoid misunderstandings. State the problem, but keep it positive. When stating the problem, avoid laying blame. If employees are languishing at home, you, as the company, must take full responsibility for bringing them back to work in some fashion — as you are admitting in the policy statement.    
You might say something like this:
1. The ABC Corporation  proudly announces the creation of a workers’ compensation management program. The goal of the program is to engage in company-wide management and employee practices designed to lower workers’ compensation costs. 
2. The practices   include the establishment of a return-to-work program, a transitional duty program, and the establishment of post-injury response procedures. 
3. The policy is created  because at present, employees who are injured on the job have no established way of re-engaging the work world during their recovery process. 
4. Additionally  the company does not have an established tracking system to ensure our injured employees receive the best medical attention immediately after a work-related injury.
 

Policy Implementer and Beneficiaries

This part of the policy statement describes who’s in charge of project implementation. If you’re multi-sited, you may have one workers’ comp manager with several site coordinators. Or, it may just be you, in which case, your statement can go something like this:
1. This policy  applies to all employees of ABC Corporation who are injured on the job now, in the past, or in the future.   
2. An inter-departmental  workers’ compensation management committee will monitor the overall processes for their departments. Members will be department heads, supervisors, and employees. 
3. In the event  of a decision conflict, the workers’ compensation management committee has primary responsibility for hearing appeals, using an established appeals process. Representatives from all departments will take part in establishing the appeals process for the workers’ compensation management committee.
4. The workers’ compensation  coordinator has primary responsibility for program management. 
Keep in mind establishing a committee is time consuming. First, ask decision-makers to appoint committee members. Once they convene, they decide by charter how subsequent committee members will join. A bi-annual election is a good idea, at least for the employee part of the committee. 

The Policy and Process

In this section provide more detail about how the policy is to be applied, who is exempt and how conflicts and violations are resolved, including a time frame for effectiveness. For example: “This policy applies to all full-time employees and remains in effect for the next two years.” 

Policy Purpose

Boundaries for  employee conduct in the event of a work-related injury are established by the workers’ compensation management policy. The policy avoids confusion, sets parameters, avoids conflict and hopefully employees know up front what the rules are.
Thus, if an employee  injured on the job and in recovery decides the company might pay for a little elective surgery, the workers’ comp coordinator points to the policy stating: “The policy clearly states that the following kinds of surgery are covered unless specifically linked to the work related injury.”

Addendums

Remember,  the workers’ compensation management policy is a living breathing document, designed to serve the people, not the other way around. So, if you find various aspects are not working, realign them to make them more functional. 

Policy Kick Off

Let everyone know about your new workers’ compensation management policy. Consider introducing it at a general staff meeting. Serve coffee and donuts, and go over each item verbally. Don’t be surprised if it isn’t widely read by your employee audience. (workersxzcompxzkit)

Make sure  employees sign in at the meeting. Then, in the event of any future disagreement, you can point to the sign-in sheet and remind them they attended the workers’ compensation management policy introduction meeting, where all points were covered.

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, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Podcast/Webcast: How To Prevent Fraudulent Workers' Compensation Claims Click Here http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/podcast/Fraudulent_Workers_Compensation_Claims/index.php

We accept articles about WC cost containment. Contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

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.
 
©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Keys to Putting Together an IDEAL Workers Comp Management Team

Why Do We Need a Team to Manage Workers' Comp? No one person  has the expertise to get everything done and this is never truer than with workers' compensation management. Workers' comp management succeeds best when remedial strategies are addressed by a team of people who contribute ideas from their unique perspectives which, when synthesized by the group will result in unique, imaginative and balanced solutions.  A team consists  of two or more people connected to each other by a common bond or desire.  Apart, they cannot achieve this goal, but together, if they work well together, they can.  When individuals work together as a team, a group dynamic emerges — a group personality — separating the group from a random collection of strangers.   In a really successful team synergy emerges — a synthesis of group energy generating creative ideas and strategies and taking the group's thinking to a whole other level. We call this a cross-functional team.  What Is a Cross Functional Team? A cross-functional team  consists of management, employees, consultants and vendors from various disciplines coming together to contribute to common group goals.  Cross-functionality must be both horizontal and vertical, encompassing various disciplines and levels of management and employees. How Do I Choose Team Members? Once you've  completed your workers' comp assessment, you will identify procedural gaps based on the recommendations the assessment produces.  Those gaps will help formulate an action strategy.  Your identified action goals determine who you ask to participate in your team.   How Does This Apply to Workers' Comp Management? Over the years,  we've noticed workers' comp management teams emerge , in general from the same core cross functionalities needed to get the job done and these include, but are not be limited to: 1-Workers' Comp Manager: who facilitates and orchestrates everything 2-Workers' Comp Coordinators; (in multi-sites) orchestrates and facilitates for their jurisdiction 3-Department Heads, Supervisors: — brings workers' comp management to employee level.  (This is a horizontal part of your cross functionality.) 4-Senior Management:  backs the program with their commitment to give it credibility and authority.  (This is a vertical thrust of cross functionality.) 5-Union Officials and Members:  If your organization is unionized then workers' comp management must dovetail with union return-to-work, transitional duty policies. 6-Medical Department:  If you have an internal department, or you are in a state where you can choose your medical personnel. 7-Physician Advisor: Regardless of whether you have internal medical support, a physician reviewer with a background in work-related injuries — and ideally workers' comp management — is necessary to weigh in on file reviews to build return-to-work strategies. 8-Insurer:  Whether it be claims adjuster, third-party-administrator , or members of self-insured department are critical because in the future they will be working claims with an eye toward how this impacts workers'' comp management strategies. 9-Legal:  Ensures workers' comp management initiatives are within the law for the states they are designed to serve.  Other Teammates Since cross-functional  teams consist of living breathing people, it stands to reason the team is a living entity as well, thus team members can be added or released on an as-needed basis.  Vendors can be invited to participate as consultants during the life span of the projects they are hired to complete.  These would include specialists from fields such as rehabilitation, utilization/hospital review, medical review, nurse case management, field based nursing services, training, structured settlement, recovery and subrogation, and loss control.   Team Balance is Critical! Successful  cross-functional teams have a balance of skills and personalities needed to define the roles team members will be assuming.  Interview people from the disciplines you have selected to ensure that they are positive owners of their responsibilities; that they are professional and personable Getting Started Have a kick-off  meeting attended by management and core members.  At the meeting, you disseminate the action plan, clarify expectations, discuss challenges, define roles and responsibilities, firm up the time line and deliverable dates, and establish the schedule for forthcoming meetings. The action plan  needs to be written as a matrix with spaces for noting who's responsible and time line/deliverable commitments.  Go through the action plan and solicit owners and commitments.  After the meeting, send a follow up action plan confirming these actions. Although you welcome input from team members, stick to the action plan you derived from the workers' comp assessment.  You want input from team members about how they plan to solve existing problems, but do not change the goals and objectives. (workersxzcompxzkit) Here's Your Challenge! You must be creative about how to retrofit workers' comp management strategies into existing and often entrenched business practices.  You may have to back into the existing practices of your departmental, insurance and medical resources to some extent because their practices are older and more established than yours are.  Of course, we assume they have healthy practices amenable to integrating "new" workers' comp management strategies into their existing procedures.  Obviously if they are either unwilling or unable to do so, you must shop other resources.  And that is a whole other blog!

Author Robert Elliott, can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

"FRAUD PREVENTION" FREE AUDIO PODCAST click here: http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/mp3 By: Anthony Van Gorp, private investigator with 25 years experience.

 
 

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. ©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Workers’ Comp Program Design and Development Most Difficult Part of Work Comp Cost Reduction Program

Design & Development
All materials such as templates, forms, sample letters, etc. for use throughout the life of your WC program are designed and put into use. Design and development of these materials is the most difficult part of the process, and the part of the process that causes employers to give up before they even begin. The development of such materials can take months, thus many employers never begin because the task is overwhelming. An excellent approach is to start small and build on the existing materials. Or outsource to someone who has the knowledge and resources to build a program for you, such as Amaxx Risk Solutions.

The Return To Work Coordinator needs these key materials:
1. Work Ability Form
2.  Employee Brochure
3.  Presentation to Senior Management
4.  Medical Provider Brochure
5.  Employee Contact Log
6.  Form Letters to Treating Physicians
7.  Form Letters to Adjusters
8.  Form Letters to Employees
9.  Supervisor’s Guide to Work Injuries
10. Training Materials for Supervisors

You may review some sample forms at Free Workers Comp Forms

Training & Implementation
All employees   from top management to individual workers involved in the workers’ compensation/injury management process are trained so as to be  up-to-date and comfortable with new forms, policies, and procedures.  Training is followed by actual implementation — going-live –when all new changes are officially adopted.

Program Awareness
It is important  to keep all members of senior management aware of progress and major changes, even those not directly involved in the project.

This should  take place periodically throughout the project to allow for discussion and issue resolution well in advance of program training and implementation.

However,  once all documents, policies and procedures are finalized, it is extremely important to meet with senior management to advise them of the changes and allow for any questions or concerns prior to training and implementation.

Training
Communication  is the key to a successful program! Prior to implementing a workers’ compensation program it is important all employees are aware of changes and key personnel are trained using new forms and procedures.

Some key  training activities include:
1.  Inform supervisors  of day-to-day responsibilities.
2.  Inform all employees  of new processes; emphasize benefits and encourage participation.
3.  Distribution  of new policies and procedures.
4.  Promote  program via memos, brochures, posters, newsletters, acknowledgment, etc.
5.  Reinforce  management commitment via newsletters/key inquiries by top managers.
6.  Identify  and document transitional duty tasks. (workersxzcompxzkit)
7.  Incorporate  new policies/procedures into human resources packet for current employees and new hires.

Going Live!
Once all training  and communication to employees is completed, the program is ready to be rolled out.

Tracking methods should be implemented and all forms must be available and ready to use.  At this point the program is ready to be adopted in full.

Monitoring & Management
After implementation,  the company demonstrates results by:
1.  Declining  injury rates.
2.  A shift  in the return-to-work ratio showing most injured employees return to work sooner.
3.  A significant  decline in the cost per employee (discussed in performance goals module).
4. An increase in PPO penetration rates
5. An increase in Reporting within 24 hours; fewer claims reported after 24 hours.

Procedures to Monitor
1.  Correct  completion of forms and claim tracking documents after injuries.
2.  Communication  between all players throughout the claim process.
3.  Cooperation between  your company and your claims administrator.
4.  Use of  standardized documents/templates to communicate with injured employees, treating physicians, internal managers and your corporate office.

Ensure continued success by:
1.  Continuous  review, analysis, and refinement of processes.
2.  One-hundred  percent attendance at claim review meetings with your claims administrator.
3.  Review  of loss data.            (workersxzcompxzkit)
4.  Constant fine-tuning  to resource guides, brochures and forms, as needed.
5.  Continual  improvement of relationship with local medical providers.
6. Period visits to adjusters offices.

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, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

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


©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Managing Your Work Comp Program Starts with An Assessment

Your National Workers’ Comp Management ScoreTM will tell how you stack up. 

To get your  company’s National Workers’ Compensation Score, the planning team answers and discusses, as a team, the questions in WorkersCompKit®.  Take the IQ Quick Check to see how it works and what you get.  RIMS 2009 Benchmark Survey has a best practice section, so you can find out how your company stacks up to other companies. The WC Section is new in 2009.

When you take  the full score, you  receive a personalized National Workers’ Comp ScoreTM and customized recommendations for improvement.

To ensure validity  of the score it is important to discuss the questions as a team. Members will have their own experiences and views regarding personnel, policies and procedures.

Review your Recommendations
In a formal team meeting  review the recommendations you receive  and discuss the priority of recommendations, potential challenges, and ways to overcome obstacles.  Your leader team  will serve as facilitators and appoint a team member to record action items, responsible parties and completion dates on the timetable for each recommendation. Include a consultant from the broker in the meeting to offer insight into ways to overcome obstacles.

Analyze Benchmarks and Develop Program Goals
 Once the data is entered in the benchmark form, the benchmarks will be automatically calculated. Print all benchmarks and bring copies to team meeting.

As a team,  discuss and compare the benchmarks to your company’s current baselines. Based on these comparisons establish goals for performance and improvement by setting preliminary injury rates, return-to- work ratios, and lost workday goals.

Even if injury  rates are consistent with industry benchmarks, your goal is to beat the industry average to become best-in-class.

Use a Weekly Timetable
Your lead team  needs to maintain a timetable (i.e., a project plan) to organize all activities and hold each team member accountable for completing assigned tasks in a timely manner.  This will help ensure consistent project progress and keep focus on milestones.  This timetable should be distributed to all team members weekly.

Determine your Program Name
As a team,  determine an appropriate name for your program, such as Claims & Transitional Duty Program, abbreviated “CAT Program” or Injury Management & Prevention Plan, abbreviate “IMP Plan,” etc.  A name gives the program an identity and it can easily be referenced via multiple parties.  Catchy names also catch people’s attention.

Select your Injury Coordinator
One member  of your company will be responsible for managing daily claims and corresponding with the claims adjuster to develop strategies for each claim in the program. This person will be given a title of Injury Coordinator (IC) or Return-to-Work Coordinator (RTWC).

The IC or RTWC  must be a “get-things-done” type of person who is already familiar with the workers’ compensation process.

Ideally,  this person must have experience with your company’s policies and procedures so  changes are consistent with your corporate culture, also very important to the implementation phase.

The claims management  component of your new program provides an organized and pre-planned process the employee passes through from the time of the injury until the employee is back to work full duty. A claims management  process is very, very different from the way claims are handled in many companies in where employee is on his own and at the mercy of confusion by medical, legal, personal and other influences.

Schedule a Diagnostic File Review
Medical review  is an important diagnostic tool, it is also important for your medical advisor to review a sampling of your files as part of an overall assessment.  Start by submitting five to ten individual claims.(workersxzcompxzkit)

Medical review  is also one of those areas not addressed in claims handling in other companies. Once again, the injured employee is left out in left field trying to figure it all out and at the mercy of medical, legal, personal and other influences – read “hires an attorney.”  We guarantee, litigation is not going to lower your workers’ comp costs.

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, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

FREE TOOLS:
WC Calculator: www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/calculator.php
WC 101: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/workers_comp.php

Follow Us On Twitter: www.twitter.com/WorkersCompKit

New Article Return to Work in Unionized Companies
http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/Return-to-Work-Programs-Unionized-Companies.php

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


©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Finding and Developing Tools to Build Your Workers Compensation Program

Why You Need to Know the WC Cost Containment PROCESS

Yes, you’ll need to know the subject matter of workers’ compensation cost containment, but you’ll also need to know the PROCESS. When you want to control workers comp costs, you will need to learn how to move through the implementation process of a cost containment program. The hardest part of the process is getting started, and keeping your company moving, so you must have an arsenal of tools to move them forward on a daily basis. You must MANAGE the process of change within your company.

Many companies  ask why workers’ compensation is a problem and why costs are so high. Simply put, it is because there are too many claims lasting too long. For years, employers have assumed there is nothing they can do to prevent rising costs.

Many employers  believe they have no choice but to continue paying higher premiums and long-term medical expenses. They assume once an employee is out of work on workers’ compensation there is nothing they can do to bring the employee back to work.

Employers can  however, implement in-house programs, policies, and procedures designed to bring employees in line and work together to reestablish control and lower costs.

Workers’ compensation  management or injury management (IM) includes both proactive management – before accidents occur – and reactive management:  managing a claim from the minute it, happens until the employee is brought back to full-time productive duty.

It may be helpful to know the WorkersCompKit® includes a Facilitator’s Guide. This program-planning guide is for the person leading implementation. (workersxzcompxzkit)

Some of the forms you will need for program management are:
1. A timetable
2. A facilitator’s agenda
3. An injury coordinator job description
4. A participant’s agenda
5. A sample letter to divisions with assessment results
6. A sample CEO Roll-Out Letter
7. A sample Kick-Off Letter from Injury Coordinator

Don’t hesitate to ask your peers for these tools. Most risk managers are willing to help their peers. If another risk manager has developed a program, they may be willing to share what they have developed. Also, your broker may have some of the tools. Note: make sure they are not providing you with tools that are copyrighted to another company.

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, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

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


©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

How To Select a Project Team for Your Workers Comp Cost Reduction Program

Select Your Project Team

When you begin a cost containment program, think about it as a process — how will you tackle the problem, one bite at a time. It’s a problem, not unlike any other problem at your company, so approach it with a fresh perspective. First think about WHO will you need to work on the program with you, then you and the team can plan WHAT you need to do. The most important thing to do, is to take the first step. That is where most employers are derailed, before they begin, because they can’t take the first step. Here’s an overview of the 4 step process. It’s a fluid process, so you can change team members if that is necessary at some point.

Your Injury Management Planning Team should include:
1.
  Risk manager or workers’ compensation manager.
2.  General manager or plant manager.
3.  Director of personnel or human resources.
4.  Labor relations and others as warranted.
5.  External consultants provide industry expertise (optional).

The Planning Team will be responsible for:
1.
  Analyzing the frequency and severity of lost time injuries.
2.  Inventory and briefly analyze the open lost time claims.
3.  Review the company’s current procedures for claim handling, injury management, transitional duty and steps taking place when an injury occurs. (workersxzcompxzkit)
4.  Review loss trends with appropriate benchmarks.

Select Your Team Leader

Select a strong team  leader who has sufficient time to dedicate to the project because the team leader is expected to devote 90% of his or her time to the project.  If the team lead has an admin, it could take less than 90% of their time, because some things can be delegated. IF you are serious about implementing a program, plan to spend most of your time on the program for the first few weeks, then the time commitment will taper off, especially if the forms and templates in Workers Comp Kit® are used; using the kit will reduce the time required of you by at least 50%, because you won’t be starting from scratch. Your team  should include individuals who can influence the outcome of workers’ compensation activities in the workplace.

Consider selecting  team members from all walks of risk management as a first step in the Assessment and Recommendation Phase. You want teammates who can contribute vital information about all aspects of your current program, including vendor partners, associated claims, and reported losses.

Position titles  may vary from company to company, so you want to select teammates in comparable roles.
1.  Risk manager or injury coordinator; general manager or plant manager.
2.  Director of personnel or human resources.
3.  Labor relations and others as warranted.
4.  Company medical personnel.
5.  External consultants to provide industry expertise (optional).

The planning team  begins by identifying programs, activities, and procedures currently in existence at the company so a baseline can be established.  Think of it as an inventory including:
1.  Analyzing the frequency and severity of lost-time injuries.
2.  Identifying and analyzing open lost-time claims.
4.  Reviewing the company’s current procedures for claim handling, injury management, transitional duty and steps taking place when an injury occurs. (workersxzcompxzkit)
5.  Reviewing loss trends with appropriate benchmarks.

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, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

WC Calculator: www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/calculator.php
WC 101: www.ReduceYourWorkersComp.com/workers_comp.php
Follow Us On Twitter: www.twitter.com/WorkersCompKit

Return to Work in Unionized Companies
http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/Return-to-Work-Programs-Unionized-Companies.php

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

©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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!
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