Canada Deploys National Standard for Workplace Psychological Health and Safety

 

In an effort to improve workplace psychological health and safety in Canada, several groups have gotten together to unveil the country’s initial national standard to assist organizations and those who work for them.

 

Those responsible for releasing the standard are the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Bureau de normalization du Québec (BNQ), and CSA Group.

 

 

Standard Centered on Betting Employee Psychological Health

 

The National Standard of Canada titled Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation is a voluntary standard centered on bettering employees’ psychological health and staving off psychological harm as a result of workplace factors.

 

According to MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley, “One in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or mental illness in any given year and many of the most at risk individuals are in their early working years. Canadians spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. It’s time to start thinking about mental well-being in the same way as we consider physical well-being, and the Standard offers the framework needed to help make this happen in the workplace.”

 

The Standard has in place a systematic approach to develop and sustain a psychologically healthy and safe workplace, including:

 

  • The identification of psychological hazards in the workplace;
  • The assessment and control of the risks in the workplace associated with hazards that cannot be eliminated (e.g. stressors due to organizational change or reasonable job demands);
  • The implementation of practices that support and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace;
  • The growth of a culture that promotes psychological health and safety in the workplace;
  • The implementation of measurement and review systems to ensure sustainability.

 

 

Businesses Will Differ in Use of Standard

 

As officials point out, the voluntary Standard is not intended to be adopted into federal, provincial, or territorial legislation.

 

It can be used in a variety of ways by businesses and organizations of all sizes depending upon their needs. In some cases, businesses may use the Standard as a starting point and center on forming policies and processes to promote mental health, while others may arrive at the conclusion that a number of aspects of the Standard are already in place and use the Standard to build upon their existing efforts.

 

The Standard has gotten the go-ahead from the Standards Council of Canada as a National Standard of Canada.

 

It will be free via CSA Group and BNQ websites.

 

 

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.

Searching For The Right TPA Critical Step in Self-Insurance

 

Finding Right TPA Toughest Part of Setting up Self-Insurance

 

The toughest part of setting up a self-insurance program is finding the right third party administrator (TPA) to administer the workers’ compensation claims.  The selection of the right TPA is essential to the success of the program.  The TPA should work with your company in a partnership arrangement where both your company and the TPA are striving for the best possible outcome on each and every claim.

 

Finding the right TPA partner is a challenge.  While there are mediocre TPAs, there are also some excellent TPAs that will anxiously await your selection of a TPA.  When you have received the responses to your Request for a Proposal, take time to interview three to five of the TPAs.  The following areas should be included in your interviews.

 

 

Geographical Fit

 

The TPA needs to be somewhat local to your location(s).  If the TPA is in another state, for example – New York, and you have two facilities in Texas, there are several problems that will arise.  First, the TPA adjusters will not know the law in your state, which can result in some serious financial (over-payment) mistakes.  Second, the adjusters will not be licensed to handle the claims in your state.  Third, the adjusters will not know who the better doctors are and which doctors should be avoided.  Fourth, the adjusters will not know who the better defense attorneys are.

 

Being located in the same state often is not enough.  In some states the adjusters are often called on to attend board hearings, mediations, settlement conferences, etc.  If the TPA is in the same state as your company, but 250 miles away, attendance at out of the office events becomes an issue.

 

Obtaining a proper geographical fit can is more difficult for the large company with numerous facilities or locations in several states.  The large employer will need either a TPA that has a national presence, or a regional TPA that matches up with the employer locations.

 

 

Claim Management Information Systems

 

The TPA must have a claims management information system (CMS) that is compatible with your computer system.  If not, the exchange of information between the TPA and your company will be very time consuming if not a nightmare.  If you do not have the expertise to know if your computer system and the TPA’s system can be integrated, have your IT person(s) talk in detail with the TPA’s IT person(s).

 

If it is determined that your computer system is compatible with the TPA’s CMS, you need to establish ahead of time who will be responsible for the interface between the two computer systems.

 

Assuming the TPA’s CMS is flexible enough to work with your computer system, you will need to know the amount of information that will be available to you via on-line access.  At a minimal, you should be able to read the adjuster’s file notes, review documents attached to the claim file and review the financial information on each claim.

 

To err is human, and humans input the information into the computer system, so expect errors in your data.  Wrong locations codes, wrong body part codes, wrong nature of injury codes, wrong social security numbers (999-99-9999 is a favorite), wrong employee age (99 again), etc. can seriously undermine the accuracy of your data and financial management.  The TPA’s CMS should provide you with the ability to correct mistakes of this nature.  If not, expect to either have seriously inaccurate information for your risk management program, or to spend a considerable amount of personnel time getting each data error corrected.

 

For many years self-insured employers had to rely on the TPA to produce their loss runs.  With the more modern CMS systems, the employer can now run their own loss runs and produce ad-hoc reports to address issues of particular concern.

 

 

Claims Handling

 

TPAs are notorious for saying “we have excellent adjusters” and hoping you will leave the discussion of claims handling at that point.  The self-insured employer needs to ask lots of questions of the prospective TPA about how the workers’ compensation claims will be handled.

 

To maintain high quality of claims handling on every claim, a set of Best Practices outlining what is expected on every claim should be agreed to.  The Best Practices should state the requirements for contacts, investigation, payments, reporting, etc., and give precise guidelines for timeliness.

 

The submission process for new claims should be established.  The TPA’s CMS should allow you to report new claims electronically.  The TPA should also provide you the flexibility of calling in the claims report in emergencies and emailing the First Report of Injury.

 

The number of workers’ compensation indemnity claims assigned to one adjuster should be discussed in detail.  If the TPA assigns too many claims to their adjusters, few of the claims will receive all the attention necessary, resulting in higher claim payments.  The maximum number of claims an experienced adjuster will be able to handle properly will vary by the jurisdiction, depending on the number of state forms to be filed, the complexity of the state laws, the selection of medical providers and the amount of involvement of the industrial commission/workers’ compensation board.  Generally speaking, 125 claims are a full load for an adjuster without an assigned administrative helper.  For the overall success of your self-insured program, the maximum number of claims assigned to the adjusters handling your self-insurance program should be clearly stated in your contract with the TPA.

 

Depending on the size of your self-insured claims program, you will need to have either a designated adjuster and/or a dedicated adjuster(s).  The designated adjuster is one adjuster who handles all the claims for a client, plus claims for other clients.  A designated adjuster is used when the claim volume is insufficient to keep one adjuster busy full time.  A dedicated adjuster handles the claims of only one client.  If you will have enough claims to keep one adjuster busy full time, the TPA should agree to assign a dedicated adjuster to your work comp claims.  Often for larger self-insured employers, the TPA will have a number of dedicated adjusters handling the claims along with one designated adjuster who handles variances in the claim load.

 

It is important for the self-insured employer to know the skill and experience of the designated/dedicated adjusters assigned to their claims program.  Not only is the number of years on the job important to know, the employer should know the level of training the adjusters have had including industry courses, completion of continuing education requirements and certifications or designations the adjusters have earned.

 

 

Interface

 

The level of communication and information exchange between the self-insured employer and the TPA should be established before a claims handling contract is signed.  The employer should establish what level of claim settlement authority the adjuster(s) will have and at what level the adjusters will need to consult with the employer prior to settling a claim.  As it is your company’s money that is being spent on the work comp claims, the level of claims direction, supervision and control needs to be clearly delineated prior to the TPA starting to handle your claims.

 

While the TPA is acting as your fiduciary, the claims are still the responsibility of your company.  There should be complete transparency in everything the TPA does on your behalf.  Whether you access information about your claims via computer or by talking with the adjuster(s) assigned to your claims, your company should never be in the dark about the status or progress on any claim.

 

Even though you have complete access to your claims information via the CMS, you should also include in your contract with the TPA the right to fully audit any aspect of your claims program.  A file quality review by an independent claims file auditor should be completed at least every other year (larger programs yearly) on all self-insured programs to be sure the TPA is complying with the Best Practices previously agreed to.

 

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.

 

©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.

Stopping Workplace Violence Can Prevent Severe Workers Comp Claims

 

Keeping Employees Safe is Necessary Part of Risk Management
 
Whether it is a former employee seeking revenge for being fired, an angry current employee, a lover’s quarrel or an intentional criminal act like a robbery, protecting employees from injury or death in the workplace is essential.  Keeping employees safe from violence is unfortunately a necessary part of any risk management program.  Stopping workplace violence also results in the prevention of severe (and expensive) workers’ compensation claims.
 
The first step in preventing workplace violence is the careful screening of all job applicants to eliminate new employees who might be prone to violence. The human resource personnel who have the responsibility of making employee hiring decisions should receive training in recognizing potentially dangerous employees.  This is more than not hiring convicted felons.  The human resource personnel should be trained to look for signs such as the job candidate being disgruntled in a former job, having mental health issues, being aggressive or angry toward anyone in their prior job(s).
 
 
Proper Hiring Procedures Can Stop Problems Before Start
 
The new employee candidate should provide proof that they are they claim to be.  A recent situation at a Savannah warehouse shows the importance of this.  The new hire employee attempted to rape the warehouse office clerk.  Another employee interrupted the attempted rape.  Before fleeing the building, the newly hired employee shot and killed the second employee who had interrupted the attempted rape. The police quickly located and arrested the newly hired employee.  It was discovered the new hire was not who he said he was.  The newly hired employee was a convicted felon who had recently been released from prison. The newly hired employee had stolen the identification of his cousin, and had used his cousin’s employment history to apply for the warehouse job.  Proper hiring procedure including verification that the job applicant in front of the personnel recruiter matched the applicant’s photo identification could have prevented this workplace tragedy.
 
In addition to careful hiring procedures, every employee (not just management) should know that any type of workplace behavior which threatens violence, implies violence or intimidates another employee is not acceptable. All employees should be taught to recognize anti-social behavior. 
 
Red-flags For Potential Violence:
 
·         Any verbal threat
·         Any physical threat like making a fist, intentionally invading a co-worker’s personal space, or physical movement that implies violence
·         Screaming or yelling
·         Expressing homicidal or suicidal thoughts
·         Being obsessed with weapons
·         Having a history of domestic abuse
·         Being a loner with no involvement with the rest of the work force
·         Pursuing an unwanted romantic interest in a co-worker
·         Having extreme family problems
·         Having extreme financial problems
·         Having a history of drug or alcohol abuse
·         Having a grudge against a supervisor or co-worker
·         Having a history of prior violent behavior
·         Having extreme and unexplained mood swings
·         Blaming co-workers, supervisor or management for all things that go wrong at work
·         Having paranoid behavior or making statements that reflect paranoid thoughts
 
All employees should know they can confidentially report to management any concerns they have about a fellow employee without fear of reprisal from either the fellow employee causing their concern or from management.  Management has the responsibility to investigate, assess and document both the objective and subjective behavior of the employee who is causing concern to their fellow employees.
 
Employees should understand that it is management’s job to deal with the potential violent co-worker.  The employees should never on their own attempt to address the potential violent co-worker’s threatening behavior.  Employees should expect their supervisor or management to immediately handle such situations, and if they don’t, the employees should move to the next higher level within the chain of command.
 
Safety Measures to Stop Workplace Violence:
 
·         Restricting access to the workplace to employees only, with vendors and/or customers being restricted to designated areas
·         Having established protocols on when and how to admit non-employees to the workplace
·         Having an installed alarm system that can be triggered by the employees in the event of an emergency
·         Using escorts for employees walking to their cars in uncontrolled parking areas
·         Arranging furniture, cubicles or machinery to keep employees from being trapped in an area.
·         Using cellphones to request immediate assistance when needed
 
All employees should know that any workplace violence or the threat of violence, no matter how trivial, is totally unacceptable.  Employees must be encouraged to report any sign that a fellow employee may become violent.  The prevention of violence should be a specific section within the workplace safety manual.  While the total elimination of all workplace violence may not be attained, by having a comprehensive approach to recognizing and preventing the potential for workplace violence, the employer can make a major stride toward stopping workplace violence.
 
 
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.

Former Florida Corrections Officer Could Face 30 Years For Alleged Comp Scam

 

Collected over $2.7 Million in Workers Comp Payments
 
Florida officials recently announced that a former state corrections officer was arrested, accused of faking an illness and collecting over $2.7 million in workers compensation payments.
 
According to authorities, 47-year-old David Brownell used to work as an officer at the Glades Correctional Institution in Belle Glade. In 1995, Brownell allegedly filed a workers comp claim, saying his work at the institution exposed him to rats and rat feces that led to respiratory problems and 24-hour-a-day dependency on oxygen.
 
 
Extensive Video Surveillance Proved Him Guilty
 
Authorities say extensive video surveillance shows that Brownell not only doesn't need oxygen tanks to breathe, but is able to play guitar in a band, attend a concert, drive and smoke.
 
Brownell, who now lives in Tampa, turned himself in recently, wearing an oxygen mask at the time of his arrest.
 
He was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail, and released on $50,000 bond.
 
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater says if convicted, Brownell could face up to 30 years in prison.
 
 
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.comContact: 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.

6 Workers Comp Mistakes Employers Make

 

Employers, especially small and medium size companies, often are focused on the product or service they provide and inadvertently overlook several areas where they could reduce the cost of workers’ compensation.  The following are six workers comp mistakes which cause employers to end up paying too much for workers compensation insurance.
 
1.  Lack of a Formal Safety Program.  The number one cause of workers’ compensation premium increases is the frequency of workers’ compensation claims. The more injury claims the employer has, the greater the payout by the insurance company which results in a higher insurance premium.  A safety program designed to eliminate the causes of accidents will decrease both the number of injuries and decrease the severity of the injuries that do occur.  By installing and following a formal safety program, an employer will reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims.  The cost of the safety program will be recovered several times over in the lower cost of workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
 
2.  Selecting the Insurance Company Based on Price.  A common mistake of employers is thinking that all insurance companies are the same, and selecting the insurer based on the initial price quote.  The quality of service, both from the underwriting department and from the claim department should be taken into consideration.  If the insurance company does a lousy job handling the workers’ compensation claims, the cost of the claims will rise, and the underwriting department of the insurer will pass that cost on to the employer in the form of higher premiums in the subsequent years.  The employer should investigate the prospective insurer to see what their track record is for handling claims and raising/lowering future premiums.
 
3.  Selecting the Wrong Insurance Broker.  The employer should look for a broker who will work with them in a partnership approach to controlling the cost of workers’ compensation.  If the broker is just a salesperson who will have no further contact with the employer after the policy is placed, the employer loses out on the services a good insurance broker can provide.  A broker should be able to provide resources to the employer including guidance on risk control, safety programs and claims, while acting as a liaison with the insurer when needed.
 
4.  The Attitude that Work Comp is a Cost of Doing Business.  Employers who have the attitude that workers’ compensation is a state mandated cost of doing business end up with significantly higher insurance premiums, then the employers who manage their workers’ compensation.  While work comp insurance is mandatory in every state, there are many cost saving approaches that can be taken in every state to minimize the cost.  The employer who searches for ways to reduce workers’ compensation cost will have lower work comp insurance cost.  [For many recommendations on controlling the cost of workers’ compensation, please visit the various articles on our website].
 
5.  Measuring Work Comp by Premiums Paid.  When employers think the cost of workers’ compensation is the amount of premium they pay to the insurance company, they overlook the indirect cost which can actually exceed the amount paid in work comp insurance premiums.  When an employee is injured there are several areas where indirect cost to the employer begin to increase.  This includes:
 
·         lost production or overtime cost to complete the work the injured employee would have completed,
·         supervisory time dealing with the injury and injured employee,
·         equipment or property damaged by the accident,
·         hiring and training cost to replace the employee if the employee does not return to work,
·         lower morale among the remaining employees as they see the dangers of the workplace,
·         unhappy customers if the injury results in a delay in service or products delivered
 
6.  Forgetting About the Injured Employee.  The employer who treats the injured employee like an employee who has quit the company makes an expensive mistake.  When an employee is injured, the employer should be in contact with the injured employee on a regular basis, expressing the need and desire for the employee to return to work while expressing empathy for the employee’s injury.  The employer should have a light duty job program available for the injured employee until they can return to work full duty.   When the employer does not communicate with the injured employee, the employee will find someone who will listen to their needs and concerns.  This is usually an attorney who will do whatever the attorney can do to increase the size of the workers’ compensation claim.  This is in an effort to increase the amount of money the employee will receive and of course, the amount of money the attorney will receive.
 
 
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.comContact: 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.

Improving Communication with Your Adjuster Can Save You Big Money

 

Communication Can Be Significant Problem
 
Self-insured employers unintentionally, but routinely, sabotage the results they get on their workers’ compensation claims from their third party administrator (TPA) adjusters.  Of course self-insured employers do not set out to get sub-par results from the adjusters.  And, it should be understood that most TPA adjusters want to provide quality claims handling.
 
The reasons for less than expected claim handling results vary greatly from one adjuster to another, but there are some common threads in the employer—TPA relationship that create poor claims handling. A significant portion of the claim handling problems lies in the communications between the self-insured employer and the TPA adjuster. Often an employer will assume the adjuster knows what to do (and the adjuster does), but then the employer will be dissatisfied with the claims handling results because the adjuster handled the workers’ compensation claim differently from what the employer expected. 
 
 
Improve Communications With These Recommendations:
 
·         Talk to your adjuster regularly to understand what is being done, and what needs to be done, on the larger work comp claims they are handling for you
 
·         Be ready to offer input, but don’t try to micromanage the claim handling
 
·         Provide all necessary supporting documentation as quickly as possible including Employer’s First Report of Injury, payroll records, pre-employment physicals and health questionnaires, personnel file, etc. 
 
·         Don’t surprise the adjuster with critical information that you have, or become aware of, by not providing it to the adjuster timely.
 
·         If you become aware of any new information on the claim, share it immediately with the adjuster.  If you do not, the adjuster will more than likely spend time acquiring the information you already have
 
·         Let the adjuster(s) know how you prefer to communicate – whether you prefer emails over phone calls, or phone calls rather than e-mails
 
·         Strive for timely response to all e-mails and to timely return all missed phone calls
 
·         Let your adjusters know you expect a team approach to the claims handling and show respect for the work the adjuster does to create mutual respect
 
·         Be consistent in your communications of your claims handling philosophy in regards to claims handling.  Don’t take a hard nose, defend at all cost approach to one claim and on the next nearly identical claim, overpay the claim to get rid of it.
 
·         Be consistent in your claims handling philosophy or the adjuster will quickly decide you ‘don’t know what you want’
 
·         Never let your personal like or dislike of a particular employee influence your guidance to the adjuster on a claim
 
·         Discuss with your adjuster how much a particular claim is worth and what you will be willing to pay to settle the claim.  If you withhold what you are really willing to pay on the claim, then at time of the mediation or hearing, up the ante significantly, the adjuster is going to wonder why you had both the defense attorney and him/herself spend needless hours working on the claim that could have been settled much earlier
 
·         Don’t change your evaluation of a claim unless new, pertinent information that was not previously known comes to light
 
·         With an eye toward improving your relationship with the adjuster(s) ask your adjuster(s) what can be done to improve the communications between your company and them.  Then, be willing to listen to constructive criticism and act on what is said. If you are not self-critical and not willing to acknowledge the adjuster’s input, then asking them how to improve communications will not benefit either of you
 
·         If you see an adjuster making the same mistake over and over, communicate with the adjuster about the problem, ask the adjuster how the problem can be corrected, agreed on how the issue will be handled in the future, and then follow up to be sure the adjuster makes the necessary correction(s)
 
 
Be aware that every adjuster works differently, and every adjuster is under organizational pressure to accomplish as much as possible on many other claims.  Show your willingness to work with and to assist the adjuster in getting the work comp claim resolved.  Treat the adjuster will respect and communicate your desires to get the best possible claims handling.
 
 
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.

EU-OSHA Toolkit Helps Employers, Workers Handle Dangerous Substances

 

Animated Films Introduce Safety & Health

 

A new toolkit highlighting the changes to the labeling of chemical substances was recently launched by EU-OSHA. The toolkit helps employers and their workers handle dangerous substances with care and keep themselves safe at work.

 

The new online toolkit includes the film ‘Danger: chemicals!‘, a poster and a leaflet. The central character is ‘Napo’, the hero in a series of animated films, aimed at introducing workplace safety and health in a funny and memorable way.

 

New hazard pictograms for chemical products are being gradually implemented in Member States as part of a globally harmonized system , but recent research by the European Chemicals Agency shows that many of these pictograms are not recognized or properly understood . The kit reminds employers and their workers of the new signage and helps them understand what they mean to keep themselves safe at work.

 

 

Single Exposure to Substances Can Harm Workers’ Health

 

About 15% of Europe’s workers report handling dangerous substances as part of their daily work. Just a single exposure to some of these substances can harm workers’ health, with effects ranging from mild eye and skin irritations to asthma, reproductive problems, birth defects and cancer. EU-OSHA wants to ensure that workers and their employers are familiar with the new chemical hazard pictograms, and handle dangerous substances with care.

 

EU-OSHA is supporting the European Commission in their efforts to raise awareness about the changes in labeling requirements and their relevance for workplaces.

 

A dedicated web section provides access to the toolkit and a variety of additional training materials and guidance documents, as well as ‘frequently asked questions’ on CLP (the European Union’s classification, labeling and packaging regulation) and REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) that provide more insight on the topic.

 

 

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.

Simple Safety Measures Could Have Avoided Fine, Saved Finger

 

 
Worker Attempting Repair Fish Skinning Machine
 
A company boss from north west London recently appeared in court after a worker had to have a finger amputated when his hand was caught in machinery and severely crushed, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
 
Ernest Henderson, 43, of Enfield, was working as a maintenance manager for Ian Goldstein, who runs a smoked salmon business at premises in Lowther Road, Stanmore, Harrow.
 
Westminster Magistrates' Court heard recently that Henderson was attempting to repair a fish skinning machine that was making a loud screeching noise when in use, when the incident occurred on 17 December 2010.
 
 
Removed Safety Guards & Switched on Machine
 
He removed the safety guards around the machine and then switched it on, but a rag he was holding for cleaning got caught and his right hand was dragged into the moving parts.His hand was severely crushed and his index finger was so badly damaged it had to be amputated at hospital. The injury means he still finds it difficult to do everyday tasks, although he has now returned to work.
 
An investigation by HSE found that Henderson had not been trained in how to repair machinery at the site, despite being the maintenance manager. His competence to repair machinery had never been adequately assessed and he was left unsupervised when completing maintenance work.
 
He had also not been given a safe system of work to follow to ensure he carried out the task safely, by not running the machine once the safety guards were removed. It was also found that the emergency stop buttons on the fish skinning machine were not operational.
 
 
Employer Pleaded Guilty & Fined $2,500
 
Ian Goldstein, 61, of Lowther Road, Stanmore, Harrow, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was given a two-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay $2,500 in fines.
 
 
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.comContact: 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

 

 
Deborah Pfeifle, CEO of Gould & Lamb, and Rafael Gonzalez, Director of Medicare Compliance and Post-Settlement Administration, are featured speakers at the upcoming PARMA conference next week in Rancho Mirage, California.  Ms. Pfeifle's presentation, "Taming the Prescription Drug Beast in Workers' Compensation", will focus on managing prescription drug programs, cost and mitigating the risk of prescription drug abuse. Mr. Gonzalez will present "An Update on Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance", which will focus on strategies for when and how to take Medicare's interests into account. Read more…
 
 
 
 
As policymakers and other system stakeholders wrestle with the rapid growth of health care costs, the debate about unnecessary medical care in the U.S. and in workers' compensation is taking on a new urgency.  Due to the importance of this topic, WCRI has dedicated a whole section of the conference on it.  Join Dr. Rebecca Yang, WCRI, and Professor Thomas Wickizer, Ohio State University, for a discussion about Unnecessary Care and the Impact of Treatment Guidelines.  Read more…
 
 
 
 
CID Review is pleased to see a report in the Wall Street Journal about the NFL and work-related injuries. After all of the media attention to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that appears to happen after concussions, the WSJ story features a picture ofRobert Griffin III (RG III). He suffered a knee injury during a game recently. Instead of sitting out the next game (a playoff), as he undoubtedly should have, he played with a knee brace. He had his knee re-injured towards the end of the game and had surgery the following week. Apparently, he had torn the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). He had also had an injury to the ACL during his college career.  Read more…
 
 
 
 
The percentage of older workers planning to hold off on retiring has increased 20 points within the past two years, according to a business research association analysis released Friday.
 
The Conference Board Inc. report titled “Trapped on the Worker Treadmill?” found that despite improvements in the U.S. economy over the past two years, 62% of workers were delaying their retirement plans due to financial considerations in 2012 vs. 42% in 2010.  Read more…
 
 
 
 
Effective today, the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) has commenced the annual Responsible Reporting Entity (RRE) re-certification process for 2013. This process requires that the Authorized Representative at the RRE send an email to the Coordination of Benefits Contractor (COBC) EDI Representative confirming the contents of the four page Profile Report.The ProfileReport is included as an attachment to the Re-certification Email Notice and summarizes the information on file at CMS for the RRE. The email will come from 'cobva@ghmedicare.com'. Read more..
 
 
 
News From Lexis Nexis
 
Workplace Wellness Programs Return on Investment and Implementation Tips by Rebecca A. Shafer, J.D., Michael Stack, Robin E. Kobayashi, J.D.
 
“Of the many workers' compensation cost reduction initiatives available to employers today, wellness programs are by far the one of greatest interest. Employers seek statistics on ROI (return on investment), as well as costs of implementation of such programs, they hunt for information on how to implement such programs and which vendors provide them. How much can we save? What is the ROI? How quickly will I see the savings? Those are the primary concerns of employers today. Of all the articles I have written in the last 25 years, those on wellness programs have by far been most widely read and most requested for reprints.” Read more
 
 
 
 
“The Supreme Court of Kansas recently affirmed an award of work disability benefits to an undocumented worker who was ineligible for gainful employment under the Federal immigration laws. The employer contended that under Federal law, it was illegal for McDonald's (or any other employer) to reemploy the worker and that any wage loss she suffered was unrelated to the work injury but rather to her legal inability to return to work. McDonald's further contended that the award of work disability contravened public policy. The high court indicated resolution of the issue was a matter of statutory construction…” 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.
 
©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.

Workplace Wellness Programs Return on Investment and Implementation Tips

 

By:
Rebecca A. Shafer, J.D., President, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.
Michael Stack, Editor and Director of Operations, Amaxx LLC.
Robin E. Kobayashi, J.D., LexisNexis Legal & Professional Operations, LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation Law Community
 
Of the many workers’ compensation cost reduction initiatives available to employers today, wellness programs are by far the one of greatest interest. Employers seek statistics on ROI (return on investment), as well as costs of implementation of such programs, they hunt for information on how to implement such programs and which vendors provide them.  How much can we save? What is the ROI? How quickly will I see the savings? Those are the primary concerns of employers today. Of all the articles I have written in the last 25 years, those on wellness programs have by far been most widely read and most requested for reprints.
 
Employers know intuitively they will reduce their workers’ compensation costs and medical insurance costs if their employees are healthier, but senior management always prefers to make decisions with concrete numbers.  Using intuition or general projections can often lead to unmet expectations.  They will find the numbers, as well as a case for action in the recent article in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,  “Medical Care Savings From Workplace Wellness Programs: What is a Realistic Savings Potential?”  
 
The study focused on seven risk factors, i.e., smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, and low fruit and vegetable intake, noting that the three most costly medical conditions for working-age adults were cardiovascular disease, cancers, and diabetes.
 
According to this study:
 
  • An effective workplace wellness program could reduce average annual costs per working-age adult by $649.09 or 18.4%
  • For older working adults (60-64 years old), the possible savings could be substantially higher at $1,947.10 or 27.9%
  • The maximum savings would not be achieved immediately; rather, medical care savings will increase with time if:
    • “More eligible wellness program members participate.” Presently, not all eligible employees choose to participate in workplace wellness programs.
    • “Effective control of heightened risk factors improves.” Some people who participate have not been successful in lowering their risk factors.
    • “Greater risk reversal can be achieved.” Some people who participate have difficulty maintaining their lowered risk factors over time.
 
Employee turnover could present challenges for employers seeking to realize cost savings with workplace wellness programs because:
 
  • Some people will leave an employer before savings are realized
  • Some new employees might enter the work population with heightened risk factors
 
When designing an effective workplace wellness program, employers should note that age is an important variable:
 
  • Chronic diseases of aging first appear in middle age (45-59 years), becoming more prevalent in time and peaking during retirement (65+ years)
  • With respect to young working adults, the greatest potential savings could be achieved by controlling risk factors related to alcohol-related conditions, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes
  • With respect to older working adults, the greatest potential savings could be achieved by controlling risk factors related to cardiovascular disease and cancers.
  • The potential annual savings is 9 times greater for older working adults than for young adults; thus, an effective workplace wellness program should expend greater resources on older working adults
 
The most common types of wellness programs are:
 
  1. Weight Control
  2. Smoking Cessation
  3. Depression Treatment
  4. Migraine Headache Management
  5. Substance Abuse (Alcohol / Drug Treatment)
 
Putting a wellness program into practice requires proactive planning. Dr. Thomas Glimp, Chief Medical Officer from Medcor, Inc. started a wellness program over one year ago. He states “support and participation from the top is key. Our entire executive team is participating in the program nearly every day. We try to keep the program interesting and the feedback from our employees has been incredible. They state they are feeling better and are more thoroughly enjoying life. The program has also been a tremendous asset to attracting and retaining top level talent.”
 
“Employees are the most valuable resource that most corporations have,” says Dr. James A. Tacci, the Global Corporate Medical Director and Manager of Medical Health & Wellness Services at Xerox Corporation, and the new Editor-in-Chief of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (LexisNexis). According to Tacci, “Intelligent investment in employee health, wellness and productivity not only improves employee health and well-being, it can enhance organizational effectiveness across multiple business functions, and it will ultimately improve the bottom line.”
 
Here are several suggestions from Workers Compensation Management Program, Reduce Costs 20% to 50% to get off to a good start:
 
  • Make all programs either free of charge to employees or at a much-reduced rate.
  • Encourage senior management participation to build program acceptance.
  • Formulate a written policy describing programs offered, employee access, goals, benefits, and expected outcomes. Be sure to include supervisor training.
  • Through surveys, identify any interest in or barriers to participation employees may have.
  • Identify at-risk employees through intervention programs. (should be done with help of corporate human resources and legal departments)
  • Offer guidance by doctors, nurses, and counselors, and invite organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers.
  • Use tools and resources such as the Body Mass Index Calculator or other diagnostic aids. A person suspected to being depressed might take a short Q&A “quiz” indicating current mod and feelings.
  • Provide community-based resources such as spa, yoga and gym memberships free or at reduced costs.   If located at the workplace, allow generous weekday and weekend hours.
  • Use behavior modification programs such as relaxation techniques to reduce the pain of migraine headache.
  • Provide access to less common modalities such as massage, acupuncture, hypnosis, and pain management that are usually not covered by health insurance. A good massage can be better for pain than a prescription of Vicodin – and safer.
  • Sponsor on-site health fairs, classes, seminars, and written/electronic materials.
  • Educate employees and encourage participation in the wellness programs. Help them set attainable goals and teach the steps to reach these goals.
  • Provide incentives to keep everyone motivated such as time off to attend classes, prizes, and rewards for reaching significant goals.
 
The amount of interest and buzz created by wellness programs is justified as employers who take an active interest in the health and wellness of their employees will benefit. The more an employer can plan and understand wellness program variables and success factors, the greater the benefit for all parties.
 
According to Jacob Lazarovic, MD, FAACP, Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer of Broadspire, “Corporate wellness programs, when properly designed and effectively implemented, have proven to be important tools for mitigating the impact of these risks. He noted, there is no doubt that the aging of the workforce and the increased  prevalence of lifestyle-related co-morbid illnesses are factors that predispose to longer return to work durations and higher medical costs in workers compensation."
 
© Copyright 2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. and LexisNexis. All rights reserved.


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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