New South Wales Doesn’t Take Workplace Safety Lightly

As officials in New South Wales (Australia) are noting, businesses and workers need to be very careful when working with electricity and power lines after recent analysis from WorkCover showed there had been two electrocutions and 14 electric shocks in a recent 12-month period.

 

WorkCover NSW General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division John Watson said examples from August 2012 to August 2013 have included electric shocks, through to deaths.

 

“In one instance a worker was installing air-conditioning at a petrol station when the wiring he was working with was still energized and he received an electric shock. Tragically, he passed away in hospital,” Watson said.

 

“In another case, a plasterer was installing a ceiling fan when he accidently cut through energized wiring receiving an electric shock which caused him to fall about 2.4 meters off his ladder also causing bruising.”

 

As a result, Watson urged businesses and workers to take the steps needed to make sure everyone comes home safe at the end of their shift.

 

As Watson pointed out, “Working on or near electrical installations can be dangerous, and that’s why workers and businesses need to take precautions and always use a licensed electrician for all electrical installation work. Although all situations are different, what’s important is that there are basic ways to improve electrical safety.”

 

 

Equipment Needs to Be Tested and Tagged

 

Watson noted that in “conditions that involve exposing electrical equipment to moisture, heat, vibration, mechanical damage, corrosive chemicals and dust, ensure that that the electrical equipment is regularly tested and tagged and that the equipment is used in association with an RCD (Residual Current Device/ Safety Switch).”

 

Watson said special consideration must also be taken when working near overhead and underground power lines.

 

“You don’t need to come in contact with the power line to result in electric shock or arc flash burns. It is important that workers, equipment, material and plant remain at safe distances from overhead and underground electric lines,” Mr Watson pointed out.

 

While court action is generally only used in the most significant safety breaches, Watson said WorkCover can and does prosecute businesses that fail to adequately protect their workers.

 

“Under work health and safety laws, workplaces must have systems in place to prevent workers being shocked or electrocuted,” Watson noted.

 

 

Author Kori Shafer-Stack, Editor, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in post-injury response procedures and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: kstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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Better Decisions in Workers Compensation And Other News Tidbits

CE and CLE Programs from Ringler Associates and CEU Institute

Have you heard about the new continuing education initiative from Ringler Associates? Ringler Associates and CEU Institute have teamed up to provide courses for CE (continuing education) and CLE (continuing legal education). In this podcast, Ringler Radio host Larry Cohen and co-hosts, Duke Wolpert and Gayle Christen talk with special guest, Jill Benner, Executive Director of the CEU Institute, about these programs available to you on a wide range of topics including Negotiations, Ethics, Navigating Medicare Interests, Workers’ Compensation and Structured Settlements, Liability Cases and Structured Settlements, with others in development. Listen to the Podcast

 

 

CMS Announces Updates to Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (WCMSA) Reference Guide

An updated Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (WCMSA) Reference Guide has been posted and is available in the Downloads section of the Workers Compensation Medicare Set Aside Arrangements (WCMSA) What’s New page. This version documents the current WCMSA review process and provides more detailed information on the actions performed by the Workers’ Compensation Recovery Contractor (WCRC). Read more…

 

 

Medcor On-Site: Isn’t It Nice To Stay In?

Assess employee injuries at the worksite to determine if employees should seek off-site care. Check out the short video

 

 

Better Decisions in Workers’ Compensation

While Americans represent only 4.5% of the world’s total population, we consume 85% of the world’s narcotics. In fact, narcotics make up one-third of the cost and utilization of all medications in workers’ compensation. While these drugs can be an important part of the treatment for work-related injuries, the impact of the widespread use of narcotics is a major area of concern for payers. Read more…

 

 

GENEX Case Manager Scholarship Award Winners Announced

GENEX Case Manager Scholarship Award recipients were announced this year on May 8. This program was created in 2012 to promote the awareness of the case manage¬ment profession, and to support the next generation of nursing school graduates. The philanthropic program awards $100,000 in total scholarship funds to nursing schools nominated by GENEX Case Managers who graduated from those institutions. There can be anywhere from two to five schools selected each year. Read more…

 

 

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

 

©2013 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.

Massachusetts Employer Cited By OSHA As Repeat Violator

A pair of worksites in Massachusetts recently came under fire from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

 

Repeat violator Twin Pines Construction Inc. of Everett, Mass., was cited for willful, repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at worksites in Plymouth and Reading, Mass. The wood framing contractor faces a combined total of $336,200 in proposed fines following inspections by OSHA’s Braintree and Andover area offices begun in March.

 

The Plymouth inspection was initiated March 15 after a worker suffered broken ribs and leg injuries when an un-braced wooden roof truss system collapsed around him at a worksite located at 1 Shinglewood. The Reading inspection was opened the same day after OSHA received a complaint about possible safety hazards at the 1 Jacobs Way jobsite.

 

At the Plymouth worksite, OSHA found that the trusses were not adequately braced during their installation, exposing employees to being struck by them. The workers were also exposed to falls of up to 12 feet during the installation of the trusses. Inspectors identified an impalement hazard from uncovered anchor bolts and additional fall and struck-by hazards from a misused ladder and uninspected and untagged rigging. These conditions resulted in OSHA issuing Twin Pines two willful, two repeat and four serious citations with $196,200 in proposed fines. The repeat violations stem from similar hazards cited by OSHA in 2009 and 2011 at jobsites in Walpole, Mass. and Portsmouth, N.H.

 

OSHA found employees at the Reading worksite working without fall protection while framing exterior walls, making final deck attachments, constructing leading edges and receiving construction building materials. This lack of fall protection exposed them to falls of from 10 to 20 feet. As a result, OSHA issued two willful citations, with $140,000 in fines, to Twin Pines.

 

 

OSHA Says Recurring Problems Lead to Major Fines

 

“The large penalties proposed in these cases reflect the gravity and recurring nature of these hazards, and demonstrate this employer’s knowing, active and ongoing disregard for its workers’ safety,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator. “Falls remain the number one killer in construction work. Employers who deliberately and repeatedly fail to supply and ensure the use of effective fall protection safeguards are repeatedly gambling with their workers’ lives.”

 

Twin Pines Construction Inc. has been placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA’s SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

 

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

 

Twin Pines Construction Inc. was given 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

 

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.

 

©2013 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.

Senior Nurse Review Can Be Cure For Chronic Pain Cases

Treatment for pain is the overall largest component of medical treatment in workers’ compensation claims yet often adjusters do not know how to use nurses effectively in the pain control scenario. Pain often presents the biggest challenge to medical providers who repair torn ligaments or fractured bones with ease but struggle to provide proper pain management for injured employees.

 

Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as:  “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.”

 

 

No Tests Can Measure the Level of Pain Experienced

 

Pain is unique to each individual. No tests can measure the level or the intensity of pain an injured employee experiences. Unfortunately, an injured employee prone to malingering, now has an easy avenue to avoid returning to work.

 

The level of pain cannot be tested by the treating physician. Common practice is to ask the injured employee to rate the pain on a level of zero to ten on a 10-point scale. A zero rating indicates no pain and 10 rating indicates pain preventing any body movement or function. Injured employees who do not want to return to work normally rate their pain higher on the 10-point scale than actually being experienced.

 

A medical provider determines the location of pain by various neurological tests involving touching and pressing key points on the limb or body and by requesting the injured employee to make various movements. This type of examination allows the physician to test reflexes, sensation, coordination, movement, and balance. Based on these tests plus the observations of the employee’s facial expressions, total body movements, and gait, the medical provider pinpoints the spot within the limb or body where the pain is originating.

 

The medical provider uses various technologies to identify the cause of pain. The most common ways include electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies. The EMG gives the medical provider guidance in identifying which nerves or muscles are impacted by weakness or pain. Nerve conduction studies measure a nerve’s electrical system and allow the medical provider to determine if there is nerve damage.

Pain is most often described as either acute or chronic. Acute pain is sudden pain an employee feels immediately when a laceration, burn, or other occurrence causes damage to the skin, internal tissue, or bones. Chronic pain is on-going pain an injured employee feels over an extended period of time. Some medical providers define chronic pain as pain lasting more than six months from the date of injury. Others define chronic pain as pain lasting longer than the expected healing time for the injury.

 

Chronic pain is often described as ‘burning,’ ‘shooting,’ ‘aching,’ ‘stabbing,’ or like an ‘electrical shock.’ Chronic pain is also described in terms of stiffness, soreness, and tightness. Chronic pain can be at any level on the 10-point pain scale. Other medical issues are experienced by those suffering from chronic pain including the inability to sleep, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. The severity level of chronic pain is influenced by psychological and environmental factors.

 

 

Skilled Senior Nurse Reviewer Should be Assigned to Chronic Pain Cases

 

Proper management of chronic pain is often needed after a failure of surgery and other medical treatment methods are used to relieve an injured employee’s pain. When an injured employee is dealing with chronic pain, consider assigning a senior nurse reviewer (a nurse case manager with extensive clinical experience, at least 15 years) working for a medical management company to the injury claim.

 

Proper treatment of chronic pain requires a multidisciplinary approach to medical management. A skilled senior nurse reviewer working with a multidisciplinary team of board certified physicians can evaluate the treatment plan of the employee’s medical provider, recommend changes in the treatment plan if needed, or, in conjunction with the medical management company’s clinical panel, create a customized chronic pain management treatment plan for the injured employee.  The team should be setting up goals for what should be accomplished and holding regular discussions on progress.  An area that is often overlooked is screening and monitoring of the injured employee throughout the process.

 

 

Senior Nurse Reviewer Works with Medical Provider on Pain Management

 

The senior nurse reviewer continues to work with the injured employee and the employee’s medical provider, monitors the medical treatment, and follows up on the employee’s recovery progress. If changes are needed in the chronic pain management plan, the senior nurse reviewer works with the medical provider and the multidisciplinary team of the medical management company to revise the pain management program.

 

If you have long-term claims where the focus of the medical treatment is dealing with chronic pain, we can assist. Please contact us for a referral to a medical management company.

 

 

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.

 

©2013 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.

Michael Stack – WC Manual Video


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.

Michael Stack – About Us Video


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.

WA Updates Fatigue Management Law Compliance

Western Australia’s recently reported on WorkSafe’s participation in roadblock exercises, revealing a reasonable level of compliance with WA’s fatigue management laws for commercial vehicle drivers.
WorkSafe participated in five joint Austrans roadblock operations undertaken by WA Police and also involving Main Roads WA, the Explosives and Dangerous Goods section of the Department of Mines and Petroleum, the Department of Transport and the Department of Agriculture and Food. The operations were conducted throughout May, and those that involved WorkSafe were at the Upper Swan vehicle assembly area, Northam vehicle assembly area, Neerabup, Peel District and Bedfordale.
According to WorkSafe’s report, a total of 124 commercial vehicles were inspected by WorkSafe over the five locations, and 34 transport companies are currently undergoing follow-up inspections. In the course of the roadblocks, one prohibition notice and a pair of improvement notices were issued.

 

 

 

‘Reasonable Level’ of Compliance Seems Apparent

 

 

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch stated recently that a reasonable level of compliance was apparent in the transport industry, but the number of follow-ups required suggested that there were still some concerns over fatigue management.
“Fatigue is a serious safety issue in the commercial transport industry, and it seems that most employers are in compliance with WA’s fatigue management laws,” McCulloch said. “However, operations such as Austrans continue to expose the fact that there are still problems with record keeping, mandatory medical checks for drivers, appropriate sleeper cabs and driver training.”
According to McCulloch, WorkSafe kicked off its participation in roadblocks eight years ago, and it seems that the transport industry has generally come to grips with the fatigue laws over that time and employers seem to understand that the laws are there to ensure that commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest.
“It is always worth reminding the industry that the human body has limitations, and adequate sleep and rest are essential to safely undertake long-distance driving,” McCullough added. “There is no room for complacency when it comes to fatigue, and WorkSafe intends to continue monitoring the commercial transport industry with roadblocks for some time to come.”
McCullough closed by noting that “A comprehensive code of practice for the management of fatigue has been in operation in WA since 1998, and it was updated in 2003 when the regulations came into effect. All transport companies operating in WA need to ensure that this code of practice is available in all workplaces.”


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.

“Down On The Farm” Is A Hotbed for Work Injuries

With plenty of land to farm, one might think most farmlands in Australia are safe for those working the soil.
 
As it turns out, however, a new report sheds light on some of the inherent dangers facing those working farms.
 
According to a recent report from Safe Work Australia, one in half-a-dozen employees who were fatally injured in Australia were working on a farm. The report monitored statistics over an eight-year period until June 30, 2011.
 
The major findings of the Work-related injuries and fatalities on Australian farms were reported by Safe Work Australia Chair, Ann Sherry AO. She stated that the figure was staggering considering only 3 percent of workers are employed in the agriculture sector.
 
"On average 44 farm workers are killed each year and another 17,400 suffer a work-related injury,” Sherry said. “This is a significant number of injuries and deaths occurring within the agriculture sector. While the statistics themselves are alarming, they don’t reflect the many more families, work colleagues and communities who are affected by a farm-related fatality or injury.
 
Vehicles Have Major Role in Work-Related Deaths
 
Other key findings from the report include:
 
     Vehicles accounted for nearly three quarters of work-related fatalities on farms.
   In the eight years of the study 93 workers died while using a tractor. Half of these workers were aged 65 years and over one-third of the deaths involved a rollover.
   Aircraft incidents while undertaking tasks such as mustering or crop dusting claimed the lives of 48 workers.
   Quad bikes were involved in 27 fatalities of which 20 were due to a rollover.
     Almost one-third of work-related fatalities on Australian farms involved workers aged 65 years or over. This is nearly three times the proportion the age group represents of all worker fatalities in Australian workplaces.
     Young farm workers had more hospitalizations for a motorbike or horse-related incident while older workers had more hospitalizations from contact with machinery.
     Only half of Australian agriculture workers are covered by workers’ compensation as 46 percent are self-employed. The report showed that nearly one in four workers’ compensation claims were due to working with animals, one in five were from working with mobile plant and transport including motorbikes and nearly one in five were from working with non-powered tools and equipment.
 
 
In analyzing the information it garnered, Safe Work Australia has identified the agriculture sector as one of its priorities under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 and is working with regulators, industry, unions and the farming community to find practical and cost effective ways to reduce the hazards farmers and their workers face on a daily basis. This might include incentives from regulators to adopt safer plant and increased awareness raising activities in this sector.
 
Some of the risks and hazards being addressed at the national level in the farming sector are use of quad bikes and labeling of pesticides. Quad bike safety is being addressed through consultation on the fitting of crush protection devices to quad bikes and restricting the use of quad bikes by children.
 
Recent changes to pesticide labeling requirements unveiled under the new harmonized Work Health and Safety Regulations will bring greater consistency with labels of hazardous workplace chemicals in other sectors. This change aims to bring greater awareness of the hazards of farm chemicals and result in improved safety outcomes from chemical handling on farms.
 
Finally, work health and safety regulators across Australia are also seeking to improve work health and safety in the agriculture section and decrease these alarming statistics.
 
 
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.
 
©2013 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.

Properly Plan Layoffs To Control Workers Comp Costs

 

Key Steps to Take During Layoffs to Reduce Your Workers Comp Costs

Layoffs are an unfortunate reality of being in business.  They can also greatly impact your workers’ compensation experience.  Statistics show that workers comp claims spike by an average of 50 percent after a plant closing or other mass layoff is announced. This jump in claims always results in a future jump in the employer’s workers compensation premiums, as claim frequency is the primary factor in the calculation of the employer’s workers comp premium.

 

This article focuses on discouraging a workers compensation catastrophe during a workforce reduction. 

 

Here are some things you can do to prepare for layoffs. 

 

Notify your broker and claims administrator

Notify your broker and claims administrator or third party administrator (TPA) so that they can plan to handle the likely additional workers comp claims quickly. Include the human resources department and legal counsel in this planning session. Make sure that you do not automatically layoff all employees out on workers compensation because this can be seen as illegally retaliating against the employees for filing for workers comp. 

 

Place any workers currently out of work on TTD 

Try to place any workers currently out of work on TTD (temporary total disability benefits) back to work before their positions are eliminated. Consider working with an offsite transitional duty vendor so that employees who are on transitional duty can be employed elsewhere until they are fully recovered and at maximum medical improvement (MMI). Be prepared to place ALL employees who are on transitional duty in a paid position elsewhere. Charitable positions are also an option as is home-based employment

 

Once these workers do not have any work to go back to, it can be hard to show that they are capable of working. Therefore, try to get as many back to work prior to the layoff as possible.

 

Limit severance payments to those employees who are at work 

Limiting severance payments to those employees who are actively at work may discourage the filing of workers’ comp claims without merit. This may make the lure of getting a quick workers’ comp settlement less attractive because that is a more tenuous source of income than unemployment benefits.

 

Eliminate disincentives to collect unemployment compensation benefits 

Employees who are less anxious about their source of income are less likely to commit work comp fraud if they know they will have another source of income while they look for another job.

 

Learn how your state handles unemployment compensation in conjunction with workers compensation.  Some states allow both at the same time, other states allow one or the other, and some states allow an offset (reduction) in workers comp benefits for employees drawing unemployment compensation.

 

In some states, an employee is only eligible for unemployment benefits if they are “able and available” to work. Thus, if they are disabled, their unemployment benefits could be jeopardized. Employers should challenge unemployment claims of employees on workers’ compensation, if possible in your state.

 

Use outplacement professionals 

Use outplacement professionals and offer services that can make finding part-time or alternate employment possible. This makes the transition smoother when employees know they will have a source of income.

 

No one likes to be treated disrespectfully, so consider the human side of this story. Take the extra effort and plan to make it as painless as possible for the people who have been working for your company for many years.

 

©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.

Working Together Leads to Zero Fatalities in Construction of Olympic Park

 

Working Together for Risk Prevention
 
The recent 2012 European Week for Safety and Health at Work highlighted the role of strong management leadership combined with active worker participation in making sure that Europe’s workplaces are safe, healthy and productive.
 
Organized by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and its partners, the week highlighted events organized across Europe in support of the Healthy Workplaces Campaign ‘Working together for risk prevention’.
 
“Safety and health at work is everyone’s concern and we achieve success by working together,” explained Dr Christa Sedlatschek, director of EU-OSHA. “A good recent example of how things can go well, when employers and employees cooperate, has been the construction of the London 2012 Olympic Park, the largest infrastructure construction site in Europe, involving some 36,000 employees. The construction saw no fatalities – the first time ever for an Olympic stadium – thanks to strong leadership, clear lines of communication and the engagement of staff and partners in health and safety.”
 
 
Two Practical Guides
 
To support the campaign, EU-OSHA prepared two practical guides on management leadership and worker participation in occupational health and safety.
 
Management Leadership in OSH – a practical guide gives business leaders practical information on how safety and health can be improved through effective leadership, worker involvement and ongoing assessment and review.
 
The guide Worker Participation in OSH shows how workers can use their knowledge to actively liaise with managers to improve workplace safety and health. It outlines the respective roles, responsibilities and legal duties of workers, their representatives and employers.
 
The guides also contain useful ‘checklists’ for both employers and workers and their representatives.
 
 
iPad App
 
This material extends into new media, with the iPad app Working together – Healthy Workplaces Campaign, which includes valuable tools and resources for both workers and managers.
 
 
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.
 
©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.

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