5 Workers Comp Cost Containment Techniques for 2013

 

Throughout the year we have discussed several ways to try and cut costs and exposure.  There is no better time to implement these cost savings techniques than at the start of a new year.  People almost expect change when early January arrives, starting off with the often-failed New Year’s resolutions.  In case you didn’t heed to our advice throughout the year, here is yet another reminder of some ways you can make a difference in attempting to reduce your work comp costs:
 
1.    Healthy employees are less likely to get hurt
Employers are taking a vested interest in the overall health of their employees. Discounts on insurance can be applied for employees that undergo a yearly physical, which can provide early detection of a potential medical issue that may have gone unnoticed without the proper testing. Employers also implement wellness programs, exercise facilities, discounts for local gym memberships, good-natured weight loss competitions, and so on.  Anything can make a difference, so give it a shot.
 
2.    Review your loss runs to review for injury trends
Companies with several locations may overlook the fact that 60-70% of their claims may come from one of their larger locations.  The same could be said about a particular class of employees that are doing the same type of job are the ones mainly getting injured.  So review your loss runs and see if you can pick up on some injury trends, then implement ways to reduce exposure within that particular job class.
 
3.    Happy employees like working
There is a correlation between work comp injuries and work environments where there is a lot of labor-management tension.  If this can be diffused, you could see a decrease in claims.  Although risk is present at all times, it seems to be less prevalent in locations where the employees are satisfied, rewarded for good work, and locations that promote overall job safety as a whole. 
 
4.    Promote early claim reporting
Since you cannot avoid risk of injury all the time, at least try and promote early claim reporting.  The earlier a claim is sent to the carrier, the sooner they can get involved.  Oftentimes employees wait until the pain is unbearable before reporting a claim.  It is at this stage that conservative treatment is no longer effective, depending on the injury.  Early intervention can cut down on time away from work due to injury because conservative, non-invasive treatment will be successful.
 
5.    Establish a return to work program
One of the biggest ways to cut down on wage loss exposure is to keep employees working, even if they have medical restrictions.  The more flexible you are with accommodating work, the more employees know that even though they are injured they will still be reporting to work, and if they fail to report for light duty work then they should know that they will not be getting paid at all.
 
 
Summary
Feel free to take this list in to your peers and see what they have to say.  Even if you choose to only implement a few of the above listed items, it is better than implementing none of them.  Change will take time–this is not a process that can take place overnight.  But stick with it, track your progress, and see what can happen.  Chances are you will see some success at some point down the road.
 
 
 
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
 
©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.

Do Not Be So Quick To Diagnose Carpal Tunnel

 

Disclaimer—This is not a medical article.  This is not meant to diagnose or treat a condition. This is merely a guide to use as potential reference to occupational cases.  Always consult your physician for advice on what your diagnosis may or may not be.
 
If I went to a doctor’s office and said my hands are numb, and he automatically diagnosed me with carpal tunnel and sent me for an EMG, I would be looking for another opinion right away.
 
Why? I know that just because I have numbness in my hands, the automatic diagnosis of carpal tunnel is premature.  Numbness can be caused by a multitude of issues, both possibly occupational in nature, and, more importantly, not occupational in nature.  The background of getting to the root cause of a condition can take a long time, and just cannot be made in one or two visits to the doctor, whether this is a hand specialist or just a general occupational physician.
 
Below we discuss a little about the warning signs of carpal tunnel, and some other conditions that could be the cause:
 
1.    Where is the Numbness?
Generally speaking, if a person says their entire hands are numb, chances are that just carpal tunnel is not the entire cause.  Median nerve compression, an indicator of carpal tunnel, will isolate itself to a combination of the thumb, pointer finger, middle finger, and maybe part of the ring finger.  If your whole hand is numb, you can have a combination of carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel, or many other issues genetic in nature all combined.  To make a diagnosis of just carpal tunnel is incorrect, and not a detailed enough analysis to fly for any adjuster out there.
 
Cubital tunnel, or ulnar nerve entrapment, will tend to be the ringer finger and little finger, and the entrapment will occur at the elbow area.  Cervical radiculopathy will remain in the neck/shoulder region, with numbness maybe going down the back of the arm and wrapping around the arm to the forearm and possible referring symptoms into the hand. 
 
2.    Is Carpal Tunnel Work Related?
This is a debate that has gone back and forth for years.  Many physicians state that the primary cause of carpal tunnel is genetic predisposition.  Other contributing factors are diabetes, pregnancy, smoking, obesity, and others.  Waking up at night is a huge indicator, since we all at some point tuck our wrists into the fetal position.  Once this occurs, the symptoms of numbness and pain reproduce, waking up from sleep. 
 
If a person says they have carpal tunnel but they are also sleeping though the night with no waking, chances are the nerve impingement is not at the wrist. Even if you sleep on your back and you know for a fact that you will never once sleep in this fetal position, I would beg to differ.  But again most doctors either agree or disagree with this theory. 
 
 
3.    You Have to Look at the Medical/Occupational History of the Claimant
This includes both work related and non-work related jobs and movements.  All kinds of things can contribute to carpal tunnel, including medications, past/current illnesses, family history of illness, pregnancy, timing and location of the numbness, and any contributing hobbies.  I heard of a case where a guy claimed to have carpal tunnel from his desk job, but then the adjuster discovered the claimant had a second job as a violinist in a community orchestra.  Certainly the postures and movements of a violin player can contribute to the progression of carpal tunnel symptoms, or even cubital tunnel.
 
Another large contributory player in the realm of hobbies is carpentry work.  Use of vibratory or torqued tools that vibrate can start symptoms that are then aggravated by work duties that could be repetitive in nature.  Even minor movements that are repetitive in nature can be a culprit.  So take the time to do a careful medical and non-medical investigation since all movements or hobbies with gripping or movements could be included as a risk factor.
 
4.    So is it Cubital Tunnel and Not Carpal Tunnel?
That will depend on the location of the numbness.  The elbow is the most common site for compression of the ulnar nerve.  This syndrome is stereotypically known to affect men more than women, but again this depends on the study you review. 
 
Symptoms will include pain and tenderness around the inside of the elbow radiating into the forearm and the ring/little finger with associated tingling, numbness, and burning.  These symptoms again may occur more frequently at night than during the day.
 
Cubital tunnel causes can be frequent bending of the elbow from pulling items or levers on machinery, constant direct pressure on the elbow over time from leaning on the elbow, sleeping with bent elbows, or from direct trauma to the elbow area such as a fracture.
 
5.    So Can Cubital Tunnel be Work Related or is it Genetic in Nature?
Depending on your study and your physician, it is hard to say whether this is more of a work related diagnosis or one that is more genetic in nature.  You must take the time to delve into the case, and take a careful history of all employments, job tasks, and also all tasks or hobbies that your claimant does outside of the workplace.
 
Summary
Any type of injury that has associated numbness cannot lead itself to a blanket diagnosis of just carpal tunnel alone, but more times than not in the work comp world we see it more and more.  All physicians and adjusters have to take the time to do a full workup of the case, involving every job task both inside and out of the workplace. 
 
Many hobbies or activities outside of work can be the culprit of the cause of these issues, including the way you sleep, the way you drive your car, any hobbies the person partakes in, and so on.  Don’t be quick to accept the diagnosis and rush a person in for surgery.  Explain to your claimant the risk factors both in and out of the workplace, and that you just want to make sure you target the actual problem so it can be corrected and the person can move on with their lives, hopefully in a pain-free fashion.
 
 
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.

The Best Tidbits Of News From The Workers Comp Community

 

 
The United States House of Representatives today passed the Saving Medicare and Repaying Taxpayers (SMART) Act as part of a broader legislative effort. The SMART Bill was attached to House Bill 1845 Medicare IVIG Access Bill which provides for…Read More
 
 
 
Create a framework for your organization’s risk management program that aligns with its goals, sets roles and responsibilities for the team and provides communication strategies needed to report to senior management and other stakeholders.  Read more…
 
 
 
Broadspire, a Crawford Company (NYSE: CRDA; CRDB) and leading third-party administrator of workers compensation claims, liability claims and medical management services, announced today that it has been awarded continued accreditation for Case Management, Workers' Compensation Utilization Management, Health Utilization Management, and Independent Review Organization: Internal Review from URAC, a Washington, DC-based health care accrediting organization that establishes quality standards for the health care industry. Read more…
 
 
 
From now thru Dec 2012, if you buy either the 2012 RIMS Benchmark Survey Book or the 2012 Workers Compensation Management Program Book, we’ll send you a second copy at no charge.
The RIMS Benchmark Survey Book and our Workers Comp Cost Reduction Book are the most popular books that we offer, and we're trying to set a sales record in December.
Now thru December 31, 2012 order one copy of either of two books below and receive a second copy of that book for FREE.  Read more…
 
 
 
Tallahassee, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – The Florida Legislature passed and Governor Rick Scott has signed into law CS/HB 941, which amends sections 440.02(9) and 440.05, Florida Statutes. Effective July 1, 2013, the law changes to include Limited Liability Company (LLC) members as employees.  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
 
 
©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.

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.

Small, Low Risk Businesses to Receive Free Online Safety Guidance

 

Online Guidance Designed for Small, Low-Risk Business
 
A radical revamp of the way British small businesses access official advice about health and safety online has been launched.
 
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the new Health and Safety Toolbox is the latest in a package of online guidance, bringing together in one place everything a small, low-risk business could need to manage health and safety. Written with busy firms in mind, it makes it easy to find relevant guidance on specific risks with a few clicks of the mouse.
 
It builds on Health and Safety Made Simple which provides sufficient basic information for large numbers of low risk businesses.
 
 
Will Help Business Owners Avoid Wasting Time and Money
 
The package of guidance – developed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with the support of businesses – will help business owners and employers avoid wasting precious time reading what they don't need to, wasting money on unnecessary bureaucracy or resorting to hiring costly consultants.
 
Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, noted, "This package is everything small and low risk businesses could need to manage health and safety, online and free.
 
"It will help businesses save time and money by getting them focusing on the real risks, guiding them to what is relevant for them and steering them away from what's not.
 
"By going online and working through it for themselves, for free, we hope low-risk SMEs will realize that they don't need expensive consultancy or reams of paperwork to manage their responsibilities. It is of no benefit to businesses or workers if over the top precautions are introduced."
 
 
Simple Guides to Control Common Workplace Hazards
 
Quick, simple guides and interactive tools on how to identify, assess and control common workplace hazards have been pulled together for the first time. Core health and safety issues relating to the type of business, its workforce and workplace are set out more simply than ever before.
 
Sections on the most common risks – such as manual handling, trip hazards and harmful substances – as well as tips on protective equipment are set out in plain English.
 
The Toolbox and Health and Safety Made Simple are part of HSE's work to make it simpler and clearer for businesses to understand, manage and control workplace risks. A full review of all HSE's written guidance is also being carried out. 
 

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.

How To Have A Great Holiday Party At Reduced Risk

In this day of litigation any company event can become a source for injury and liability. I will cover how to hold a company party with or without alcohol that will be safe and free of the danger of serious litigation.
Of course the route of serving no alcohol is the one with the least risk for litigation, however, with the mood and frivolity of the holidays there is still risk. The company may have near the same liability potential if employees bring their own libations. If they do, the company must control this as if it was served by the company. Too many companies have suffered the tragic loss or injury of an employee after an event. These are even tougher during the joy filled times holidays bring. Tougher yet is when you get that first subpoena and the family of the injured is asking “how did you let him/her drive home from the party if he/she was under the influence?” Many a case law is of record that companies do not fare well under any circumstance, alcohol provided or not. So, what are we to do?
Rules for Great Time, Reduced Risk
Not have a company holiday party? No, quite the contrary, with some proper planning and a little extra expense you can have a great time, serve some drinks, be the boss everyone loves and keep the wolves away.
The following rules apply if you are serving or not:
1. Collect all car keys at the door, this can be made fun by giving a door prize ticket in exchange for keys. (Make it a nice gift) The person collecting the keys will be able to do a little “inventory” of condition at arrival and exit. If an employee is not capable of driving after the party, they just do not get the keys and alternative means of getting them home safely can be arranged.
2. I suggest ahead of time renting a van or town car and driver for the night, or making suitable arrangements with a cab company. This or any plan that has the same effect will allow for a great party, no regrets and of course healthy happy employees.
Proper Planning Keeps Holidays Merry and Bright
I have seen several variations of holding exceptional holiday parties with great success. Smaller companies or those with greater financial resources have held parties at a hotel with rooms for the night for all attending; this can be a great event at the right place. Do though keep a close eye on all and key control is recommended even here.
Author Brian Hill is owner of OshaSure in Birmingham Alabama and has over 20 years as a workplace safety and risk consultant. Brian was previously a pilot for a major US airline and member of the company’s interdepartmental safety committee. He found his new career in safety after the closing of the airline in 1991. Brian has found the same passion he had for flying in assisting companies with safety, heath and risk issues.
For more information click on www.oshasure.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.
©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.

Prison Doors Slamming Shut Is Strong Reminder Workers Comp Fraud Does Not Pay

 

To Repay More Than $30,000
 
Keith Miller of Grove City (Franklin County), Ohio was recently ordered to pay restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) after he admitted to altering paperwork he submitted to request injured worker benefits. Miller pleaded guilty in a Franklin County courtroom and must repay more than $30,000.
 
According to BWC officials, Miller was receiving Living Maintenance Wage Loss, which is available to an injured worker who has completed a rehabilitation plan but continues to have physical restrictions and experiences a wage loss upon return to work.
 
 
Statements Had Conflicting Work Dates
 
BWC's Special Investigations Department received an allegation in 2010 that the wage statements Miller submitted to request compensation appeared to be suspicious. The statements had conflicting work dates and appeared to have been altered.
 
Investigators interviewed Miller and his employer, and he ultimately admitted to altering the statement forms and submitting false payroll records in order to receive benefits.
 
"It can be frustrating for someone who can work following an injury but faces employment at a lower wage," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Living Maintenance can help close that gap, but is clearly not justified if submitting false information is the only way to gain approval."
 
 
7 Months in Prison, 5 Year Community Control, $30K Fine
 
Miller pleaded guilty to one felony count of workers comp fraud was sentenced to seven months in prison, suspended for a five-year period of community control. He was also ordered to pay $30,240.31 in restitution.
 
 
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.

Privacy Upheld on Personal Use of Work Issued Computer

 

Discovered Inappropriate Child Material on Work-Issued Computer

 

A recent ruling from Canada’s Supreme Court means that Canadians can still expect privacy in the information contained on work-issued computers if personal use is permitted or reasonably expected.

 

According to a report from Canadian OH&S News, The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered a new trial for a teacher charged with possession of inappropriate child material, after ruling that excluding unlawfully-obtained material discovered on his work-issued laptop would negatively impact the criminal trial process. The decision said that although the high school teacher’s privacy interests were diminished due to school board ownership of the laptop and workplace policies regarding computer use, the expectation of privacy is warranted where the computers are allowed for personal use.

 

 

Ruled Evidence Inadmissible

 

“While workplace policies and practices may diminish an individual’s expectation of privacy in a work computer, these sort of operational realities do not in themselves remove the expectation entirely: The nature of the information at stake exposes the likes, interests, thoughts, activities and searches for information of the individual user,” wrote Justice Morris Fish for the 6-1 majority.

 

The case centered on the privacy interests of Richard Cole, who was charged after a computer technician found a hidden folder containing nude and partially nude photographs of an underage female student on his laptop during maintenance activities. The technician notified the principal, who ordered the photographs be copied to a CD. The principal then seized the laptop and technicians copied temporary Internet files onto a second disc. The laptop and both discs were handed over to the police, who reviewed their contents and created a mirror image of the laptop’s hard drive for forensic examination, all without a warrant.

 

The Supreme Court decision notes that the trial judge excluded all of the computer material, finding that it breached the right to be secure from unreasonable search or seizure pursuant to Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On appeal, the Court of Appeal for Ontario set aside that decision and excluded all material except for the disc containing the photographs, which it found to be legally obtained and admissible.

 

 

Police Infringed on Privacy Rights

 

In ordering a new trial, the Supreme Court ruled that the police infringed on Cole’s rights under Section 8 of the Charter, as receipt of the computer did not afford the police warrantless access to the personal information contained within. However, the conduct of the police officer in this case was not an egregious breach of the Charter, the Supreme Court ruled.

 

“In sum, the admission of the evidence would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The breach was not high on the scale of seriousness, and its impact was attenuated by both the diminished privacy interest and the discoverability of the evidence,” Fish wrote, explaining that had the officer obtained a warrant, the evidence would have been discovered.

 

“The exclusion of the material would, however, have a marked negative impact on the truth-seeking function of the criminal trial process. For all these reasons, I would not exclude the evidence unlawfully obtained by the police in this case,” he wrote.

 

 

Employers to Manage Employee Expectations of Computers

 

According to a Toronto lawyer, employers can “manage employees’ expectations by making sure you have a policy that clearly states computers and the data on computers are the property of the company, outline the acceptable use of the computer and put employees on notice that their use will be monitored.” In this case, the school board did all three.

 

“One thing that employers will be well-cautioned to keep in mind is that it’s one thing to have a policy, the other thing is to communicate that policy to employees and to make sure that everyone that comes into the organization is trained on that policy,” the lawyer said. “So sit people down for an hour and go through what the policy actually says.”

 

 

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.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy in Workers Comp

 

What is Physical Therapy?
 
When injuries result in damage to musculoskeletal parts of the body, treating physician often need to send an injured employee to a physical therapist. Physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy, is a medical service designed to develop, maintain or restore the employee's normal body movements.
 
With workers compensation claims, an injured employee normally deals with a physical therapist that specializes in working with muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. Other physical therapists specialize in skin problems resulting from burns or wounds, nerve injuries and related muscle or breathing and lung problems. The physical therapist’s goal is to help the employee regain prior functioning levels. A side benefit is often pain reduction from the injured body part.
 
 
The Primary Treating Physician’s Role in Physical Therapy
 
When an employee injures or has surgery on a limb or joint, the treating physician often recognizes that the employee's range of motion is limited, or the limb or joint’s functioning is below what it was before the accident or surgery. The injury created an abnormal body condition making it difficult for the employee to do normal tasks.
 
Primary treating physicians usually have a working relationship with various physical therapists in the local area. The physician recommends the physical therapist best suited for the employee’s type of injury. The physical therapy will be conducted in an out-patient clinic setting.
 
Depending on the injury’s severity and the physical therapy needs, the physician will prescribe the expected amount of physical therapy treatments the employee may need.
 
 
What Happens at Physical Therapy? 
 
At the first visit, the physical therapist will review the injury information provided by the physician, the amount of care prescribed and then determine a treatment plan to address the employee's needs. The treatment plan may include improving flexibility, endurance, strength, coordination and balance.
 
Usually the first step is to introduce therapy designed to reduce swelling, stiffness or pain. The initial modules may include water hydrotherapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat packs and cold packs. These are normally followed by stretching, walking, weight lifting and various types of exercise. The physical therapist will often teach exercises to be done at home that are specifically designed for the employee’s type of injury.
 
In addition, the therapist will create a total treatment plan. This will include educating the employee on how to avoid re-injury and injury caused by repetitive motion. The best physical therapists also incorporate the psychological and emotional support needed by the injured employee into their treatment plan.
 
Kim Lough, Vice President of Care Management Operations at Network Synergy Group, commented, “One of the key ways of delivering a positive outcome for patients during physical therapy treatment is ensuring therapy goals are tailored to the needs of each individual patient. This approach to individualized treatment plans helps ensure quality patient care while effectively managing claim costs.”
 
At the end of the treatment period, the employee returns to the physician to be evaluated on the progress made in recovering from the injury. The physician can request further therapy, end the therapy or try a different treatment approach. (WCx)
 
 
The Outcome of Physical Therapy 
 
The outcome of physical therapy depends on several factors including the level of disability, the type of physical impairment, any complicating medical issues (like degenerative disc disease or diabetes) and the skill and expertise of the physical therapist. Physical therapy is normally less expensive than surgery and is less invasive. Overall, physical therapy benefits the employee in most cases where it is used.
 

 

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.

New York Revisits 2007 Reforms to Battle Rising Work Comp Costs

 

Rising Cost of Workers Compensation for New York Employers

 

The Public Policy Institute of New York State Inc. (PPI), the research arm of The Business Council of New York State Inc., has released a new study, Workers Comp Costs – Revisiting the Reforms, that examines the rising cost of workers compensation for New York employers and how costs have been influenced by 2007 legislative reforms.

 

2007 Workers Comp Reforms

 

In Revisiting the Reforms, PPI explores several provisions of the 2007 workers comp reforms, including:

 

  • Increasing and indexing the maximum weekly benefit.
  • Capping non-schedule permanent partial disability payments.
  • Closing the Second Injury Fund.
  • Implementing medical treatment guidelines.
  • Instituting an expedited hearing process.
  • Promoting return to work rates.

 

“The crux of the 2007 workers compensation reforms in New York in terms of added benefits to employees – an increase in the maximum weekly benefit – was immediately implemented. However, major provisions intended to result in real cost savings for employers were developed and implemented years after the legislation was approved, and in some cases, are still not yet in full effect,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council. “Our concerns include delays in the classification of claims that would be subject to durational caps, and a substantial increase in the cost of schedule loss-of-use awards.”

 

Recommendations to Help Remedy System

 

After speaking with numerous workers comp professionals, PPI has formulated a list of recommendations to help remedy current inequities in the system.

 

Such measures include:

 

  • Modernizing the rating system through which schedule loss-of-use awards are determined by updating applicable medical treatment guidelines.
  • Eliminating or modifying the indexing of maximum weekly benefits to control growing program costs, allow for future necessary program reforms and reduce any unintended disincentive for claimants to return to work.
  • Limiting the duration of temporary disability benefits by assuming, with a rebuttable presumption, that maximum medical improvement is reached two years from the date of an accident to help incentivize quicker classification.
  • Mandating the use of employer provider panels of health care professionals for the first 90 days of treatment.
  • Eliminating the Aggregate Trust Fund deposit mandate for commercial carriers.

 

“New York employers and taxpayers face the fifth highest overall workers’ compensation costs in the nation and must pay five times the national average to fund the system,” added Paul Jahn, executive director of the Workers Compensation Policy Institute. “The Public Policy Institute’s comprehensive look at Workers Compensation in New York details the many problems confronting employers and taxpayers and lays out a sensible agenda for reform.”

 

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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