Ergonomic Concerns With An Aging Workforce

There has been a lot of industry talk about the risk of an aging workforce and how this can affect your workers compensation program. A main risk is how ergonomics plays into injury prevention, not only for an aging worker but for all workers.

 

Here are several ergonomic issues, and ways to try to trim your exposure:

 

 

Why should employers be concerned about this issue?

 

I recently read in the paper where it is projected that 50% of workers expect to work into their 70s, some into their 80s, and some plan to never retire! The reasons for such a statement would vary per the individual needs of the person, so it is hard to say exactly why this phenomenon is occurring.

 

Truly there are a number of different factors all combined into why this is happening, I do not think it is solely due to financial needs, or solely due to people just liking to work and be out of the house, on so on. The reality is that it seems there are older workers out there who just are not removing themselves from the workforce. Whether or not this will change in the future is unknown, but the current trend is that workers are not in a hurry to retire.

 

 

 

What are the risk factors?

 

Ergonomics are intended to maximize worker productivity while minimizing fatigue and discomfort. When work stations are designed based on production demand and not on the human element, the result will be increased injury. Worker injury exposure should look at the overall ability of the worker performing the job. It could loosely be said that a 75 year old worker cannot perform as quick nor have the physical stamina of a 25 year old worker. But, you have to take into account worker experience, motivation to perform at a high capacity, overall occupational education, and so on. This would be the human factor of a particular job. Job station risks would include repetitive motion, awkward postures such as bending/stooping and overreaching for items are all ergonomic workstation factors.

 

When a worker is manually handling heavy objects, it forces the body to comply and this can cause injury. An aging workforce most likely cannot continue to meet strict production demands that stress the body at a high capacity without experiencing injury at some point.

 

 

 

How can I reduce the risk?

 

The best thing for employers to do is to contact ergonomists and/or risk control professionals for their expertise on how to control and reduce the risk of ergonomically related claims. Many insurance carriers have adequately trained risk professionals that can help, or they can refer you to an outside vendor for further expertise.

Employers can also start to look at work duties and tasks for all of their employees. They should bear in mind necessary accommodations for an aging worker in a high demand, fast-paced work station.

 

Employers can also use loss run data to look for injury trends in order to pinpoint a particular task that could be increasing injury risk. As well as accommodate the needs of older workers by providing increased breaks, job rotations, sitting options, etc.

 

 

Any other ideas that will help out?

 

Depending on the work demand, a key topic that is having proper footwear and using correct body mechanics when handling materials.

 

Workplace footwear should be slip-resistant and designed for standing on concrete or other hard surfaces for long periods of time within the work environment. Anti-fatigue mats used with the correct footwear reduces pain and fatigue to the back and lower extremities, thereby reducing some injury exposure.

 

Establishing proper body mechanics defined by job description help not only an aging workforce, but all employees, on how to properly handle materials with minimal impact to the vulnerable areas of the body.

 

 

Summary

 

The increased presence of an aging workforce presents new exposure to an employer that was not as prevalent in the past. It is important to be proactive, and to become involved in the injury exposure in order to reduce your risk. Talk with your vendors or your carrier about what options you have for reducing your exposure.

 

 

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.

Construction Sites Targeted That Put Workers At Risk

 

Focusing on the importance of workplace safety for construction companies, officials in New Zealand are making a concerted effort to see to it that 2013 is a safer year in this industry.
 
According to information from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, its inspectors passed out more than 1,000 notices and written warnings to construction companies performing work at height unsafely nationwide a year ago.
 
In an effort to protect workers, inspectors a year ago assessed more than 1,600 construction sites tied to the Preventing Falls from Height project, which seeks to lessen injuries and fatalities caused by falls in the construction sector. The project is continuing over the next 12 months, with construction workers being urged to make safety a priority in the New Year.
 
 
Sites Targeted That Put Workers at Risk
 
“The Ministry will continue to target sites that carry out work at height unsafely and those companies that put their workers at risk,” stated Francois Barton, the Ministry’s Southern Division general manager. We want to see enforcement figures improving in 2013 – safe work at height should be standard practice in the industry.
 
“Despite the high number of notices and warnings issued last year, it has been very positive to see some construction companies using innovative solutions to ensure their staff are safe while working at height. Companies are using adaptive scaffolding systems, mobile stair systems instead of ladders, and soft landing systems to stop workers getting hurt from falling off the top plate.”
 
Barton added that a sizable number of these solutions are also increasing productivity by bettering access for builders and the tradespeople that work alongside them.
 
 
Hundreds of Construction Workers Injured Every Year
 
Builders, roofers, electrical workers, painters and decorators are most apt to fall from height and get seriously hurt while they are working, according to officials.
 
“Tradespeople are going back to work after a few weeks off, so now is the time for a renewed focus on safety issues,” Barton remarked.
 
Hundreds of construction workers are injured on building sites every year – these accidents are preventable if precautions are in place. Workers must make safety a priority, especially during summer when there is an overall increase in workplace injury, according to Barton.
 
 
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.

The Best Tidbits of News From The Workers Comp Community

 

 
While there have been no formal updates to the CMS website, the WCRC recently provided an update to Gould & Lamb that it will have all remaining cases that were not part of the previous streamlined process resolved by February 28, 2013, or will provide the specific information that is necessary for the approval process to be completed. Read more…
 
 
 
From skiing injuries to sniffles, there’s no season like winter for thinking fond thoughts of the American health care system. And there’s no time like exactly one billing period later for screaming curses at the American health care system.
With the Affordable Care Act here to stay and its changes already in motion, we present this week’s Cavalcade of Risk: articles on health insurance and its impact on our lives and economy.  Read more…
 
 
Lexis Nexis News:
 
 
"Larson's May Help Interpret Law, But Can't Supplant Text of Statute, by Thomas A. Robinson. Larson's Workers' Compensation Law is often used by federal and state courts to explain and interpret a workers' compensation statute, particularly when that statute is ambiguous. In a recent decision, the Kansas Supreme Court indicated that although consulting the Larson treatise is in order when the statute is unclear, it may not serve to supplant or alter the actual text of a statute. Read more about this case and other cases on Credit for Pension Benefits, Intentional Tort, and Substantially Certain Rule."
 
 
 
"Strong Association Exists Between AMA Guides Impairment Ratings and Earnings Losses, But Losses Vary Significantly Across Body Regions, by  Robert G. Rassp, Esq. & Robin E. Kobayashi, J.D. A new major study funded by CHSWC focuses on the AMA Guides Fifth Edition in California but has implications for the AMA Guides Fourth and Sixth Editions used in other states. The study purports to quell the main criticism that the AMA Guides can only measure severity of impairmentand not disability. The study examines whether there is a strong association between AMA-based impairment ratings and earnings losses for workers' comp claimants with permanent disabilities, thereby indicating that impairment ratings accurately reflect the effect of impairments on the ability to work. The study also examines…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.

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Convicted 125 Employers for Fraud in 2012

 

Showing further evidence that crime does not pay, officials with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently reported 11 individuals were convicted of or pleaded guilty to charges related to defrauding the state’s compensation system in the month of December.

 

The court actions stem from investigations conducted by BWC’s special investigations department (SID). From illegally receiving workers comp payments to running a business without comp coverage or under reporting it, a number of individuals have been arrested and charged within the last year.

 

“Our investigators wrapped up 2012 with 125 convictions of employers, injured workers, providers, and others who committed fraud against the State Insurance Fund,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. “Their work helps keep employers from having to cover the cost of fraudulent claims, non-payment of premium, illegal billing, or any other illicit schemes designed to cheat the system.”

 

Among those who ran afoul of the law for a variety of offenses:

 

Eric Renzhofer, dba ARS Construction Inc., (Bowling Green, Wood County) was found guilty Dec. 3 of workers comp fraud for altering his coverage certificate. SID received an allegation from a premium auditor that Renzhofer may be altering a certificate of coverage. While conducting an audit on an unrelated case, the auditor noticed the policy number listed did not match ARS Construction, Inc. The Employer Fraud team investigation found that Renzhofer altered a certificate belonging to another business to make it appear that his business (ARS Construction) had active coverage. Renzhofer confessed to altering the certificate and cooperated by providing business records to determine the premiums he owed. Renzhofer was ordered to pay fines of $250 and restitution.

 

Eugene Vaughn (Spencer, Medina County) was found guilty Dec. 28 on five felony counts of deception to obtain a dangerous drug after he was discovered doctor shopping. A pharmacy contacted SID and advised that Vaughn was receiving prescriptions from multiple insurers, including BWC. SID worked with the Medina County Drug Task Force on the investigation, which found Vaughn obtained narcotics from different doctors during the same prescription cycle, including prescription drugs paid by BWC. Vaughn also used multiple pharmacies to fill these prescriptions. Vaughn was sentenced in the Medina County Common Pleas Court to three years general supervision by the Adult Parole Authority, drug screening, and continued drug treatment. Vaughn’s driver’s license was suspended for six months with work privileges upon request. He must have only one prescribing doctor with those prescriptions verified by Adult Parole Authority.

 

Victor Figueroa (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to one count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID’s Intelligence Unit detected that Figueroa was earning wages from multiple employers during periods he was collecting Temporary Total disability benefits from BWC. The investigation found Figueroa worked for Fairfield Insulation and Qualiteck, Inc. while collecting these benefits. Figueroa was ordered to pay restitution of $9,653.70 and he paid in full at the sentencing. He was also sentenced to one day in jail, suspended for time served.

 

Danny Albert (Columbus, Franklin County) pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to one misdemeanor count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation that Albert was working for Southeast Mental Health as a Resident Specialist while he was receiving benefits and was prohibited from working. The investigation found Albert was in fact employed with Southeast, Inc, and Stevens Building Services while receiving Living Maintenance and Temporary Total benefits. Evidence obtained during the investigation also showed that Albert intentionally misrepresented and withheld employment activity in order to continue collecting these benefits. Albert was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for 12 months of community control, and ordered to pay $7,051.75 in restitution.

 

Sheldon Greene (Middletown, Butler County) pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to one felony count of workers comp fraud for working while receiving benefits. SID received an allegation that Greene had returned to work at Michael’s Dining and Jazz restaurant in Dayton. The investigation found Greene was working at Michael’s Dining and Jazz restaurant as a chef and was operating his own catering company, Liberty City BBQ, in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas while receiving BWC disability benefits. Greene appeared in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas and the judge terminated the case after he repaid BWC $9,992.28.

 

Jerry Adams, dba Quaker Pool & Spa, (Calcutta, Columbiana) was found guilty Dec. 13 of one felony count of fraud for allowing his workers comp insurance coverage to lapse. BWC’s Employer Compliance Department attempted to work with Adams, owner of Quaker Pool & Spa, after he allowed his coverage to lapse. After multiple attempts, Adams still failed to submit outstanding payroll reports and the case was turned over to SID for a fraud investigation. Employer fraud team agents met with Adams and his accountant on multiple occasions and facilitated the receipt of all but one of the outstanding payroll reports. Adams was given instructions on how to request a payment plan in order to get the policy reinstated. However, Adams again failed to follow through. Adams paid $4,226.34 as a down payment and signed a Payment Plan with the Attorney General’s Special Counsel agreeing to pay the remaining balance of $11,495.50 over the course of the next year. His sentencing is scheduled for February 21, 2013.

 

Anil Nalluri, MD (Youngstown, Mahoning County) pleaded guilty Dec. 13 to one misdemeanor count of workers comp fraud for billing for services not rendered. SID began investigating Nalluri in 2003 after receiving a complaint from an injured worker that he was providing only 10 minutes of psychotherapy services during what was supposed to be a 45 minute session. The injured worker confronted Nalluri about the lack of care and Nalluri informed the patient that he would receive payment from BWC regardless of the treatment provided. Nalluri later removed the injured worker from treatment at the office and failed to provide the patient his medical records when requested. Agents conducted an undercover operation and observed several patients exiting the office very soon after arriving. An agent also posed as a patient, visiting Nalluri 12 times and capturing video supporting the allegation, including an appointment that lasted one minute. In another instance, BWC was billed for a 20 – 30 minute psychotherapy session that video showed lasted three and a half minutes and consisted primarily of discussions about the economy. After the undercover operation concluded, investigators conducted interviews with Nalluria’s employees and patients. A number of patients reported the services they received were less than adequate and often lasted just enough time for Nalluri to write a prescription. Nalluri was paid $71,669.62 in restitution and investigative costs. He was also voluntarily decertified as a BWC provider.

 

 

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 Designing and Implementing Transitional Duty Program Ensures Success

 

Big Mistake is Designing Program After Employee is Injured

 

The biggest mistake employers make with a transitional duty program is having a “sorta” light duty program.  The employer recognizes a transitional duty program is an important way to reduce workers’ compensation cost and realize the importance of providing modified duty/light duty work for an injured employee, but does nothing about it until an injury employee is placed on light-duty work restrictions by the medical provider.

 

For a transitional duty program to be effective, it needs to be properly established.  This does not mean identifying a light duty job for the employee once an employee has been injured.  It means having a written policy on light duty work that is known to everyone in the company.  When there is a written policy of providing transitional duty work, every employee will know that a light duty or modified duty job will be available and required of them, if they are ever injured on the job.  The supervisors and managers within the company should be educated on the details of the transitional duty program so they can properly explain it to any employee who is injured.

 

A transitional duty position should be designed for every current job within the company.  The transitional duty job does not have to be in the same department as the injured employee’s original job.  It can be anywhere in the company.  The placement of the employee in a transitional duty position outside of the employee’s regular department is beneficial to the employee by broadening the employee’s skill base and knowledge of the company.  Any training the employee needs to accomplish the transitional duty job should be provided during the first days on the temporary job assignment.

 

 

Transitional Program Should be Understood Throughout Company

 

All employees should understand that transitional duty jobs are temporary and are not a new permanent assignment for the employee.  If the transitional duty is going to last more than 30 days, the employee should be moved to a second transitional duty job that allows for increased physical assertion, but still within the work restrictions set by the medical provider.  The employee should be clearly told that as soon as the medical provider clears them to return to their regular duty job, they will be required to do so.

 

The business partners who are involved in the handling of the workers’ compensation claim need to understand that transitional duty is required of all injured employees who are able to work in some capacity. The nurse case manager and the designated adjuster or dedicated adjuster(s) assigned to your work comp claims should understand that your company will return all injured employees to work as soon as the medical provider states what work restrictions are necessary.

 

The medical provider, whether employer selected or employee selected, should be advised there is a transitional duty job available to the injured employee. The medical provider should be given both a copy of the physical requirements of the employee’s regular job and a copy of the physical requirements of the transitional duty job that will be available to the employee. If it is a non-emergency situation, the physical requirements or the regular job and of the transitional duty job should be given to the medical provider prior to the first medical visit.  When this is not possible due to the need for immediate medical care, the physical requirements of both the regular duty job and the transitional duty job should be provide to the medical provider prior to the employee’s second medical appointment.

 

The employer should never allow the transitional duty job to interfere with the employee’s medical appointments, physical therapy appointments or other medical treatment.  The supervisor in charge of the transitional duty job position should be provided the date of the next medical appointment immediately following the most recently completed medical appointment to minimize the interruption in productivity of the department where the injured employee is working.

 

 

Properly Designed & Implemented Program Ensures Success

 

The work comp coordinator within your company should coordinate the transitional duty position with the employee, with the supervisor of the transitional duty position and with the medical provider to be sure everyone is on board.  Any issue that arises with the employee working in the transitional duty position can be addressed timely by the work comp coordinator.  The work comp coordinator should also verify that the transitional duty job meets the work restrictions set by the medical provider.

 

The establishment and implementation of the transitional duty program before it is needed is the key to a successful program.  By designing your transitional duty program to accommodate the needs of the injured employees, you will ensure the success of your transitional duty program.

 

 

 

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.

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.

23 Percent of Survey Respondents Always, Often, or Occasionally Bullied At Work

 

Looking for zero tolerance on the job when it comes to bullying, a recent work-stress survey, conducted by UNISON City of Glasgow (Scotland) branch using the HSE Stress Management Standards, discovered some 23 percent of respondents were always, often or on occasion bullied.

 

The survey came to light once concerns were raised by UNISON members regarding the affect spending reductions were having on workloads and workplace stress.

 

Work-Stress Major Concern Requiring Urgent Action

 

According to the branch’s health and safety officer, Scott Donohoe, “We had a 96 percent response rate, which was excellent. Unfortunately, a lot of the members’ responses were in the red, meaning that work-stress was a major concern and that urgent action was required.

 

“After presenting our findings to the employer, we agreed that a couple of focus groups, consisting of employees, members and safety reps, would be setup to discuss the results of the survey and identify stressors.”

 

Donohoe added that “The work-stress campaign has been successful in recruiting new members and activists. Our next step is to review the risk assessment to ensure that the ‘prevent and control’ measures have been implemented and are still relevant, and widen the work-stress campaign to include other employees.”

 

Guide Recommended for All Employers Dealing with Stress

 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guide “Managing the Causes of Work Related Stress: a Step by Step Approach Using the Management Standards” is recommended for use by all employers when looking at how to deal with the problem of stress. The guide places risk assessment at the heart of any plan to lower the risk of work-related stress.

 

However, the HSE makes clear that prior to a risk assessment being undertaken, the employer is best served if they:

 

  • Talk to their staff about work-related stress and explain what they want to identify;
  • Set up a group to help (which includes trade union safety/employee representatives, the unit health and safety officer, one or more supervisors or line managers, an HR representative and, where possible, someone from the occupational health service);
  • Explain that the first step is to undertake a risk assessment;
  • Ask the group to assist in the assessment; and
  • Agree a date when the key findings of the risk assessment will be available.

 

In assessing the risks in your workplace, its is recommended that your employer review the five steps to risk assessment:

 

1     Identify the hazards;

2     Decide who might be harmed and how;

3     Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution;

4     Record your findings and implement them; and

5     Review your assessment and update if necessary.

 

 

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.

Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Award $153,000 in Safety Grants

 

Ohio BWC Awards Safety Intervention Grants to State Businesses
 
The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) recently awarded safety intervention grants to five Ohio businesses totaling more than $153,000.
 
BWC designed the Safety Intervention Grant Program to assist Ohio employers in reducing illnesses and injuries and to create a partnership with them to establish best practices for accident and injury prevention.
 
 
Safety Grants Available to Protect Wellbeing of Workers
 
"Safety grants are available to businesses in any industry looking to protect the health and wellbeing of their workers," said BWC Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer. "Many employers find their purchase allows for sometimes the simplest of adjustments that can make a tremendous difference in the number of injuries and corresponding costs associated with claims."
 
Ohio private and public employers are eligible for safety intervention grants, which include a 2-to-1 matching amount up to a maximum of $40,000 for a total of $60,000 – $20,000 from the employer and $40,000 from BWC. Quarterly data reports and follow-up case studies help BWC determine the effectiveness of employers" safety interventions and establish best practices.
 
 
The following are a list of businesses that received grants from BWC:.
 
City of Girard Fire Dept. (Trumbull County)
BWC awarded $38,570 to purchase an exhaust removal system to reduce carcinogens from diesel exhaust. The City of Girard Fire Department is a public employer that provides fire suppression and emergency medical services to the city's 10,000 residents and thousands of workers.
 
Bowlin Energy LLC (Hamilton County)
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase battery powered crimping tools and hydraulic tampers to reduce the risk of strains, sprains and carpal tunnel syndrome resulting from forceful exertions and awkward postures. Bowlin Energy is a private utility employer that repairs and replaces overhead power lines and supporting power poles.
 
Peerless Saw Company (Franklin County)
BWC awarded $40,000 to purchase a precision leveling machine to perform saw blade flattening. The purchase will reduce ergonomic risk factors associated with manual hammering, including injury to the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. Peerless Saw Company manufactures custom circular saws.
 
SMI Crankshaft LLC (Seneca County)
BWC awarded $22,078 to purchase a vibratory finishing machine to reduce the risk of injury from vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward postures. The machine will also reduce eye injuries resulting from metal particles. SMI Crankshaft is a finishing operation that produces precision crankshafts from raw forgings and castings.
 
Buckeye Power Sales (Franklin County)
BWC awarded $12, 754 to purchase 30 hoist systems to reduce the risk of sprains and strains resulting from manual material handling. Buckeye Power Sales sells, delivers and services power generation systems. This grant was awarded through a partnership between BWC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to research how to create safer work environments for employees working in the wholesale/retail trade, and other sectors that perform delivery, installation, receiving or material handling tasks.
 
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.

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